In her poem “To a Daughter Leaving Home,” Linda Pastan describes her experience of teaching her eight year old daughter how to ride a bike. As her daughter rides away up the street, the mother runs behind to catch up, anxious she might hear a crash. Her daughter laughs and “pumps for her life,” with her hair like a “handkerchief waving goodbye.”
This scene illustrates many of the feelings that parents have as they see their children growing up. On the one hand parents want to encourage independence, and work to teach children the skills they need to be self-sufficient. On the other hand, children’s independence can scare parents: will they be alright on their own? The child’s journey can also leave the parent feeling abandoned. As parents cheer their children on, they also feel the loss of their company.