Liz Benigno

a view from the porch

Empty Nests

liz benigno6 Comments

All over town the birdies are leaving the nests.  A first grade mom in tears, "I just really pray her teacher sees her. You know, really sees her." The mom of a freshmen boy off to college sits on his bed in his "old" room and smells his comforter. There's the burly Kinder dad who fought back tears as his daughter confidently dropped his hand and walked into her new Kindergarten room, all by herself. How about the mom whose son has lost 12 pounds at boot camp and the thought of not being able to feed him is killing her. Or finally the father who is weepy because this will be the first time in more years than he can count that he won't be with his son on opening day of dove season (a super big deal here in the great state of Texas).

We love our birdies and want them to fly, we really do. But gosh it's hard when they do. And most of the time it's harder on us than it is on them. I remember when Joanie first left for college I texted her ALL THE TIME. So much so that Steve made me delete her number from my phone. He said it would be good for both of us and he promised she would call me when she was ready to chat. When the call came (an endless five days later) it was such a delight to hear all her breathless, chatty news. We slowly grow accustomed to the nest being a bit more empty and rejoice in their new found flying abilities. 

But, the thing about birdies leaving the nest is that somewhere along their flight they will run into trouble. Tree limbs, head winds, low hanging telephone wires, all sorts of things will get in the way of our birdies in flight. I think that's why our instinct is to fly right alongside them for as long as we can. A crying college student rips at your heart the same way a crying first grader does. "I knew you weren't ready to leave the nest"  "Stay right there I am coming to FIX IT" you instinctively think or say. You know, "helping" them not to get bumped and bruised. But sometimes, lots of times, a bump and a bruise is the very best thing. Bumps and bruises teach you where you aren't supposed to be, bumps and bruises give you an opportunity to get it right the next time, and bumps and bruises aren't fatal ~ they just hurt for a while. The "mean" girl (insert any grade), the "wrong class/wrong teacher/ wrong coach", being put on the B team, not being invited to the party, college rejections.  The list of potential bumps and bruises is endless.

The trick isn't to keep them from being bumped and bruised, but helping them figure out what to do when they do get bumped and bruised. Successful nest leaving takes time, practice and some nudging from the mama bird (even when we want them to stay put in our safe warm nests). Aren't we glad (and deeply grateful) that the Lord loves our kids even more than we do?  Let's help them live the life He (not us) has planned for them.

Perhaps it takes courage to raise children. ~ John Steinbeck