Today, I am over at Arabah Joy for her link-up, Grace & Truth. Hop on over and check it out HERE!
Maybe it’s my season of life, but this year when the robin couple built their nest in our down spouting, I paid closer attention than I normally do. What hit me was how very quickly those baby birds went from pretty blue eggs to perched on the edge of the nest, ready to fly. There are so many lessons to learn from that.
However, what I also found interesting was how the baby birds had a period of time where they flew back and forth to the nest. They would fly to our porch railing or to the nearby tree, but they always returned to the nest -for shelter, for food, maybe for flying advice. I guess I always kind of thought baby birds learned to fly and they were gone – off on their own little avian adventures. However, these half grown birds, while they did fly away from the nest, came back regularly. In fact, that nest was looking a bit crowded and the Mama Bird was looking a bit harried as she tried to hang onto her perilous perch and feed her overgrown babies, now all squashed in the once roomy space.
And I realized there are a lot of lessons to be learned from half grown birds too.
See, it wasn’t a clear cut moment in time where the baby bird took flight and then was gone. Instead, those half grown birds tested their wings. They flew a little ways away, but then came back to the nest – for shelter, for sustenance, maybe for more flying lessons. There was still more to teach even though those birds could technically fly.
Right now, we are entering a new season with our oldest son. On May 27, I watched as my son marched with his classmates down to the front of our auditorium. I watched as he stood up and calmly gave his valedictorian speech without so much as a tremor. I watched at his grad party as my normally quiet and reserved son mingled and greeted guests with the aplomb of a seasoned diplomat.
It would seem like he doesn’t need me or his dad anymore, like he is ready to fly the nest. But, that isn’t really true. As I watched the saga of the birds, I realized that those birds are like my son – just because he can now fly doesn’t mean he is supposed to fly away from the nest for good just yet. There are still things he needs to learn before he is totally independent.
He still needs the shelter of the nest – not constantly like when he was young. Like those young birds, he can take longer and wider forays out into the world, knowing he has a safe place to land still.
He still needs the sustenance of the nest – not constantly like when he was young, but he has the ability to provide and find some of that sustenance himself. While that mama bird still brought worms to her young, she also allowed them to forage for themselves. Sometimes, they were successful and sometimes they were not, but failure was part of a learning process. The nest provided a bit of a safety net, but not completely anymore.
He still needs a bit of flying advice – not the constant, daily instruction like when he was young, but he now has the freedom to try his wings and fly, too. One of the little birds liked to fly and hang out on our porch railing. Amateur photographer that I am, I kept trying to get pictures of the birds and the nest, but I couldn’t get close to the mama bird at all. The least little movement sent her winging away, scolding me as she went (and sometimes dive bombing my head). The little guy though – I could get very close to him on the railing. He wasn’t nearly as cautious as the mama bird which was both a good thing (for my photography purposes) and a bad thing (lots of stray cats around here). He was more willing to take chances, but he still had a lot to learn about the dangers of this world.
I’ve heard it said that parenting a college-age student is one of the most challenging seasons because your child is no longer a child, but they also aren’t a full-fledged, independent adult either. It’s a time when they fly to and from the nest – sometimes leaving you to wonder if they are coming back at all and at other times making the nest feel a bit overcrowded.
What I noticed is that the little birds flew further and further away, coming less and less frequently to the nest. The mama bird provided less and less food, until one day, I noticed the nest was standing empty. Everyone had moved on, including the parents.
I suppose that is what will happen with Brock too – eventually, he’ll spread his wings on the side of our nest for the last time, and when he returns, it won’t be for shelter or sustenance or guidance but for the relationship built during all the years spent in the nest.
I just hope we can navigate this in-between season as gracefully as the robins did.