Speaking of birds—outside our kitchen window is a big old apple tree. In that tree hangs a large bird house. It was a father and son project years ago. It’s been mended many times by the father part of the team. Last year it blew apart in the wind. This year my husband cleaned out past nesting materials, nailed the bottom back on, repainted it with a fresh coat of bright red paint and secured it to the tree. He wanted to make sure that our yearly bird visitors would have a better experience this season. Over the years it’s been the starter home for several batches of starlings. Through the nesting season we have a good time observing mom and dad starling wear themselves to a frazzle. We watch them feather the nest, keep those eggs warm, search out and bring home worm after worn after worm, and conduct flying lessons, all the while keeping the neighbor’s cat at bay. By the time they all abandon the nest for the season the babies look pretty perky, but the parents look incredibly haggard. They’ve given it their all—that’s what starlings do.
One evening recently my daughter pointed out a nest that has been built this spring in the flowering pear tree next to her front porch. The very next day there were three blue eggs in the nest with a mother robin perched on top. During the night there was a tremendous wind that not only blew away the blossoms on all the trees but took down shingles and pieces of siding from homes in the neighborhood. That mother robin was not going anywhere though. No amount of opposition was going to cause her to leave her post. My grandkids were concerned and checked on her through the night. She was immovable!
I’ve been thinking about these bird parents lately and their diligence and wholehearted dedication to provide for and nurture their children. It’s an inspiring thing to observe. It’s a part of who they are. It’s a part of their very nature. They came that way. I’ve also been thinking about my own experience as a parent and how excruciatingly hard it is to let go when the providing and nurturing days are over. I’ve been thinking about my friends who have young adult children who are struggling for their lives. The advice they receive over and over again is that they have to let go—they have to cut the strings! We all know that further growth can come to our grown children only as we stop bringing home the “worms” and hold a “graduation from flight school,” no matter how great or small their altitude.
Knowing that, my heart still returns to the mother robin and her windy night vigil. In my office hangs a wonderful drawing of a woman holding her baby in protective arms. The look in her eyes says, “Don’t you even think of harming my child.” I love that picture. It’s the way I feel to this day—five married kids and fourteen grandchildren down the road.
Today is Mother’s Day. In my life and in my work I am surrounded by mothers and fathers struggling to let go of adult children. Letting go is not easy. That’s the understatement of the year. It may be what we’re called to do now, but it seems completely counter to the devotion we were called to then. If it seems hard it’s because it is. We come by the struggle rightfully. We are the mother robin who would risk life and limb for her babies. We are that haggard father bird at the end of a very long season. It’s who we are. It’s the way we came.
I want you to know that I honor each of you and your struggle. I believe our Heavenly Parents have the greatest compassion for those of us who are at the “letting go” part of life. They’re grateful for every windy night you stayed perched on that nest and for every worm you brought home to hungry mouths. They know! What the Lord is asking us to do today is not simply to let go but to go and let Him take over where we left off.
As one who could never imagine giving my chicks the boot and leaving the perch, and who is doing so kicking and screaming, I will share that peace comes to me only when I imagine that in letting go I am placing each of my children in the hands of the Lord, in His nest, and under His very capable wing.
By Nannette W.
Posted Sunday, May 13, 2012
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