Ranger Kathryn's Arches

May 15, 2012

Raise them to be bold!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 7:27 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

My mother-heart beats with conflicting emotions these days. Youngest daughter is just arriving in rural Uganda for a summer of projects and college internship, and I vacillate between thick apprehension and silent wonder. She is living at the equator in a tent on another continent, part of a small group of engineering students who will build a rainwater harvesting system for a primary school. Far, far, very far away.

I guess I had a hand in this.

My children were raised to try new things — whether that was exotic foods, foreign languages, jobs, musical instruments, or far-off destinations. The oldest had a passport by his first birthday. Is it any surprise that his sister is now halfway around the world doing what her heart tells her to do? Isn’t that precisely what parents hope to see happen?

Fledgling young adults MUST discover their wings. This isn’t easy for them or for their mothers. Perhaps I’m secretly envious, as Africa is a favored place of mine. Perhaps I just want to be at her side, erroneously thinking I can offer protection from danger and discouragement. The struggle, however, is this: at the same moment I’m applauding my daughter’s willingness to be bold and confront her own fears, I’m chastising the choking glut of What Ifs that threaten to rob me of peace and joy.

But wait. A pattern emerges. Was not *I* the recipient of similar “be bold” messages, a generation earlier? Didn’t my parents teach us six kids the value of exploration and adventure and confronting fears? Didn’t my own mother deal with a smothering load of What Ifs, and survive? Ahhh. Yes. Indeed.

Someday, if I have grandchildren, I’ll watch the cycle repeat. Intangible gifts from past generations to future generations shape every one of our lives; choose well what you model.

Mothers, leave a comment: in what circumstances has it been hard for you to let go? What have you and your child gained as a result? (Fathers, you’re free to comment too.)


  1. First give them roots, then wings.
    Both are crucial.
    Butterflies do not function well on leashes of any kind.

    Comment by leroque — May 15, 2012 @ 7:50 am | Reply

  2. Kathryn, this is beautiful.

    Comment by Lindsey K. Atkins — May 15, 2012 @ 8:26 am | Reply

  3. What your father said. And this…

    “Anyone who never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein said that.

    I used to be concerned for the mistakes my three children would make. But I quickly learned that doing things differently than I would have done them didn’t mean they were mistakes; it just meant they were different. I’ve since said, many times, that my children have taught me more than I could have possibly taught them. And I’ve learned even more from my grandchildren. Children are such wonderful teachers; we need only be open to the lessons.

    Comment by Ron Carroll — May 15, 2012 @ 9:09 am | Reply

  4. I am proud of the women my two daughters are. Both wanted to move away in their 20’s. I encouraged them. It was part of the process of defining themselves. One has moved back happily(Andrea)with her husband and my grandson. The other is still in Tacoma, Wa. Very happy with her life on the west coast. We miss Lisa’s presence many times during the year. As a mother I am happy as long as my family is healthy, happy and productive members of society. My daughters and I are each others cheerleaders. I am blessed.
    When I was given the opportunity to be a teacher ranger at ISKY for two summers, it meant not going to Tacoma and seeing LIsa for two year. Both my daughters said “Mom you gotta do it, it’s what you’ve always wanted.”
    I will think of your daughter in Africa. You have given her the adventurous spirit. It makes me smile.

    Comment by Deb — May 17, 2012 @ 7:16 am | Reply

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