At the beginning of April, I noticed birds flying into our entryway more often. One day, I heard loud chirping through the closed door. I went to investigate.
When I opened the door and looked up, I discovered a small nest perfectly built in the bottom of the light fixture hanging from the eves.
Part of me was pleased that the busy birds had built a home to lay their eggs. The other part of me knew there would soon be a big mess from the birds and their babies. While I was less than thrilled with idea of a mess to clean, I was also delighted by the excitement of new life.
One Day the Nest was There
It all happened so quickly. One day the nest was there. A few weeks later I saw a baby bird sitting on the window ledge, confused about how to get outside. Then, a few days later, the nest was silent. Just like that.
I never saw how the mama bird tended to her eggs or how they hatched. She built her nest, brought her babies into the world, fed them and taught them to fly.
The same cycle happens for humans. The difference is that it happens over a very long period of time. Human mamas get at least 20 years to build the nest, prepare the nest, fill the nest, and teach their children how to fly.
The Nest is Where We Love and Teach
Once the babies arrive, the nest becomes a place of love and safety. It becomes a safe place not just for the babies, but for the mamas and dads, too. The nest is where we learn how to love unconditionally. It is the place where we teach our babies how to crawl, how to talk, how to walk, how to feed themselves, dress themselves, and bathe themselves. We become role models, teaching our babies how to be self-expressed and kind at the same time. In the early years, we teach them how to read, how to write, and how to focus. As they grow, we encourage them to think independently and respect different points of view.
The Nest Begins to Stretch
Our babies become toddlers, then pre-schoolers. The first day of kindergarten is the first giant leap away from the nest. A Mama can feel the nest stretching; she no longer has control of her babies’ world.
From kindergarten, our babies move on to grade school, and the nest stretches even more. It becomes flexible and pliable with the comings and goings of our babies. Our babies grow into thinking, active, engaged human beings.
From grade school to middle school, the nest stretches even more. Our babies become unique human beings with ideas of their own. Their bodies start changing, and they become more independent. A Mama can feel the tug on her heartstrings as friendships become stronger and family time changes.
When middle school turns into high school, the countdown begins. From freshmen year to senior year, our babies experience the greatest transformation of their lives. The nest gets stretched, rocked, and shaken. Through it all, the nest never breaks.
The Nest is Built to Last
The human nest is built to last. It withstands every triumph and disappointment. It supports each milestone and setback. Whether it is full or temporarily vacant, at any given moment, the nest stands strong, ready to receive and welcome all who come to settle within the comfort of its’ folds. The nest allows us to show our children that no matter how far they fly, how far they soar, there will always be a safe place for them to land.
Teaching our children how to fly is an experience like no other. Joy and grief show up at the very same time. There isn’t another parenting moment that prepares you for it.
When It’s Time to Fly
For all of the mamas who have children who are ready to take flight, give yourself grace. Let your heart break into a thousand pieces. Feel the grief AND feel the joy. Let yourself ride the waves of sorrow and delight. Make room, unapologetically, for every emotion that floods your soul.
This is your child’s time AND it is your time. Feel your feelings AND celebrate theirs. There is room for both joy and grief. Remember, the nest stretches far and wide. It has withstood the test of time. While it may get quiet from time to time, the hearts that have built it will never leave it empty.