Thursday, July 8, 2010

What Birds Have Taught Me....



As the time approaches for my son to leave and go to Pre-Kindergarten, I must admit that I am excited, but that there is a huge cloud of dread hanging over my head as well. I can't help but to think back to that magical moment when I realized that I was a mommy for the first time. I still can remember the sound of his first cry, his first step, the first time he said "mama", and just about every first that I could name. He is and will always be my baby, but time is forcing me to let him venture out little bit by little bit on his own. How will I manage the "letting him go" part? Well, as I sit here and all of these anxious thoughts enter my head. I just happened to think about a bird. Then I remembered how they teach their little ones to fly and I thought I would do some research just to see how they do this (yes, I am a nerd).

What I found out is so fascinating. The mother bird protects her eggs and keep them warm until they hatch. Once they hatch, she gathers their food and feeds them, but what I did not know is that each time she feeds them, she moves further away from them. This forces them to step out of the nest and hop and flap a little further each time. Sometimes this causes them to fall from the nest, but she does eventually rescue them. The nest becomes their entire world. However, each time they fall she leaves them a little longer each time (forcing them to be away from the nest a little longer each time). As they fall, instinct tells them flap their wings and practice the flight motion...building the necessary muscles for flying. The mother bird must be anxiously wanting to just swoop down and pick up her little chick, all the time watching for danger or predators. However, she knows that she must do this to insure his survival after he leaves the nest. So, despite all of her protective, motherly instincts, she lets him stay down there, moving away from his comfort zone... the nest. Eventually, the baby bird is mature and strong enough to fly and leave the nest...who will in turn, teach their own chicks this same lesson some day.

Wow! What a lesson a little bird has taught me. Although, my son starting school is the first step in leaving the nest...I realized that it is a necessary one. There will be many lessons that follow, all in preparation for him leaving the nest. I have heard the phrase "empty nest" for years, but I never really stopped to think about what it really means. Now, that I am a mother, I clearly understand. All of the lessons we teach our children...letting them get a job to learn work ethic and money management, dating to prepare for marriage, teaching them about God and taking them to church, and even showing "tough love" at times. All of these lessons help equip them to be all that God has created them to be. Yes, sometimes we want to swoop down and rescue them, just like that mother bird, but we don't because we love them, and we want them be able to function on their own.

There are so many similarities in a mother bird and a human one. However, one huge difference is that my "baby birds" can come back to the nest any time they need to.