Every stage of motherhood is filled with great joy, and also, sorrow. It is the greatest gift God has blessed me with and also has required the greatest sacrifices I could have ever imagined. What I know is I am forever changed through the stages of being Mama, Mommy and Mom. From holding newborns, toddling through the toddler years, volunteering through the elementary years, holding my breath through the volatile middle school years and racing through high school experience, I’ve been so humbled by the experience of motherhood. Recently, I’ve entered a new stage of motherhood that in many ways I’ve dreaded; the season of letting go.
This spring, we had the joy of watching a small bird family from the first twig being placed for the nest, to the last baby taking flight. We marveled at how quickly the babies grew. From tiny helpless hatchlings, they matured into fully, feathered fledglings who regularly stretched their wings and flapped them wildly as if they were practicing flying. Then, one day, all five babies stood at the edge of the nest, and flew away. I, personally, marveled at how the mama bird tended to her babies. From the moment she laid her eggs she, she diligently cared for them. With earnest care, she kept them warm and regularly turned them. When they hatched, she covered them with her wings and protected them from the cold. She brought them food, and chirped loudly when our dogs ran out on the deck signaling to them they better not get too close to her little ones. She was on guard; ready to defend her young at all costs.
Once her babies grew stronger though, I noticed a change in the mama bird’s behavior. She began to venture away from the nest for longer periods of time. Though the babies often cried out in what seemed like desperate cries, she tarried and made them wait. She waited so long once, we worried the babies had been abandoned. Yet, the next morning she returned to the nest and fed her young. Relieved, we wondered why she had stayed away so long. A few days later, when she again stayed away and the baby birds stood on the edge on the nest, flapped their wings and flew away the answer came. Her pulling away beckoned to her babies it was time to fly away.
She is Meant to Fly Away
For the past few days, I’ve been pretty quiet with my thoughts and emotions. I haven’t blogged and haven’t posted a lot on my Facebook page for A Little Dash of Love. I’ve needed the quiet and some time for introspection as I’ve realized that one of my own little birdies is beginning to flap her wings at the edge of the nest I’ve worked so hard to create. Faith, my eldest, is turning 18 this year and is a rising senior. We’re in the process of looking at different colleges both near and far. Right now, she’s in Europe touring with a small group of like-minded students before she attends a human rights conference at The Hague. As I watch her world expand, my heart soars with excitement and joy over her. I see God’s design maturing and developing in her and I am oh so humbled by the potential I see. I can’t help but wonder where she will go, and what she will do. At the same time, I feel a tug deep within my Mama’s heart that I wrestle with almost constantly. There is a selfish side of me that isn’t yet ready to release her. A side of me that says things are going too quickly; a side that says I’m not ready for her to leave. And, that is the side of me that I must temper because if I want to be a wise mom, I must step back. This is the season of letting go. She is meant to fly away.
I can learn a lot from that tiny little mama bird who built her nest by my kitchen window can’t I?
My job as Faith’s mom is certainly not over. I know I have many years of mothering left. I do however understand my role is changing. Where my role was once as protector, rescuer, guide, leader and “mommy”, it is changing more into to being her biggest cheerleader. My role is to bless her, help her and to encourage her to soar. Where I once tried to prevent all the bumps and bruises of life from happening, I now need to let them happen so she can grow her own strength, maturity and character. When those painful moments do happen, of course I’ll be there to hold her, but like that mama bird, I need to stand back and let her stretch her wings to fly again.
Moving forward, I know this stage of life will continue to push me to greater dependence on the Lord. I’m not strong enough to let my precious Faith go like she deserves without Him holding both of us tight. So, I walk towards the future, sometimes with a tear-stained face and always by His grace, filled with His hope knowing His plans are good… so, very good.