Leaving the Nest

A mother, looking for a safe place to birth and raise her young ones, chose my front porch. She chose well, it was out of the rain, and as a fellow mom, I was careful to not soak her nest when I watered this plant, which suddenly also served as a home.

Then one day, and for four days, the mother laid an egg; four beautiful, small, vulnerable lives, contained in precious, fragile shells. The day the babies were making their way out of their eggs, our family did our best to come and go through the garage, ensuring that the mother could just sit on the nest to keep her little ones warm (moms look out for each other like that).

We adored watching them, they were so ugly that they were cute. There came a day when we began to hear their teeny-tiny tweets, clamoring for their food each time their mother returned to the nest. It made me think of our little ones when we have been gone for awhile. My little ones would come running to the door ready to see if I had something for them, or to tell me of some adventure (or some perceived injustice) while I was away!

Quickly the little uglies were trading their wrinkly, downy skin for real feathers. They filled out and seemed more crowded in the nest. Before we knew it, they began perching on the edge of their home. I’ll never forget watching that first one leave the nest…

Courtney was all packed up and we were loading the car to make the return trip to college for her junior year when it happened. We had just walked outside and I was locking the door when we saw one of the baby birds perched on the edge of the nest. We stopped and watched as it just sat there, and then suddenly ~ it flew away!

“Ohhhhh wait! Are you ready? Don’t fall! Where are you going?!” All things that went through my mind and even were uttered from my lips as my daughter, ready to go herself, and I, watched this bird leave the nest. We looked at each other taking in what we just saw – the obvious significance of the moment not lost on either of us.

We watched the little one fly higher and higher and eventually find a tree. We saw and heard the mom calling to it from the roof next door. I imagine the mom was tweeting “Good job! Look how strong and beautiful you are! I’m so proud of you!”

It’s funny…several years ago, when my friend Barb’s oldest daughter, Alexandria, left the nest, I sent Barb a little bird and enclosed a letter. In the letter I told my friend what a great mom she was and how she (and her husband) had provided such a strong and stable nest for her little ones, that she could be confident as Alexandria left. I was indeed confident that Alexandria would be secure and strong and ready to enter the world, taking with her all the tools, values, lessons and love that had been given her while in the nest. When Courtney left for college two years ago, I received a similar letter from Barb with a different little bird in a nest.

Now on the sidewalk, Courtney and I stood and watched together, with awe and a little anxiousness, as a real bird, left a real nest to make its own way in the real world. Then ~ I drove her to her new apartment at college. As my own little one has left the nest for another year of school, I will be confident (as I told Barb to be) that we have taught her what she needs to know to fly and find her way – and I say to her even now ~ “Good job, Courtney! Look how strong and beautiful you are! I’m so proud of you!”

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