The symbolism was not lost on me.
In May, a mama bird chose our front door (specifically the wreath) for her nest. One day the wreath went up and the next it had a nest in it. She didn’t waste any time!
Soon I noticed mama bird sat on that nest a lot. When I peeked in I saw 5 eggs. I’m not entirely sure where the phrase “busy little bee” comes from when apparently birds seem to be doing a lot of work!
It was the summer before our second son was preparing to depart for college so I was already feeling nostalgic for his boy hood days. For his graduation party we had unearthered photos of his soccer tournaments, homeschool papers and public school art projects. There were more photos than usual of him around so I was reminiscing about when he was little enough to snuggle with me and read and how he was a sweet kid, but also a stinker. Stories came surging at me raising boy, after boy, after boy (then a girl), and how I spent years exhausted and probably way too grumpy and hoping my children remembered that I was doing it out of love for mothering.
Did I smile and laugh enough?
Are the lines on my face from late night laughing on the deck with our family of 6 or from worry because of high fevers and a son who liked to lick the cart at Costco? And suck on his shoe. After being in a public bathroom.
This mama bird on our front door quickly dropped 5 eggs in the nest and tended them well. She gave us the evil-bird eye every time we’d open the door (“Ahem! It IS our house!) to let the dogs out (Whom she despised!)
I knew how she felt. With 20 years of mothering behind me I had given away dirty looks more than once. The librarian who shushed my child who was barely speaking, the drivers who recklessly cut me off in traffic when I had my babies in the car and the thoughtless comments from people who mentioned how I could parent better. All this falls on my mama bird and mama bear heart in a heavy, protective way. And I made sure to use caution when opening our front door so as not to disturb the nesting family.
One day I looked in and 5 pink, smooth bodies had become fluff with beady eyes and beaks. Overnight they had gone from creepy to cute. I feel a little badly saying it, but newly hatched birds are just not that adorable.
In record time they grew and chirped and tapped on the door with their becks. It was almost time to learn to fly.
In bird years they were at the adolescent stage and I burst out laughing when this little guy greeted me one day. He reminded me so much of our son. Peaking out at the world and taking it all in.
Looking a little awkward in the hair style department.
And all the while a mama stands close by hoping for a good outcome, watching out for predators and worrying a bit about her fledgling.
So many Scripture verses came to mind that brought me comfort and hope as we launched another one from our nest. God’s Word that reminded me of His hope, protection and plans for our children. I clung to God’s Word like that baby bird held onto the side of the nest.
“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings..” Psalm 17:8
Before we knew it, the birds were grown and they were perched on the edge of the nest. It was time to fly. My heart almost couldn’t take the reality of the analogy that was taking place before my eyes. It was time to let go and watch another one fly.
The interesting part was that once the birds were all gone I noticed that the nest looked a lot like our house. Here’s the photo:
When our children were younger they would blow through the house like a whirlwind and leave horrid messes. Toys, books, shoes, diapers, and snacks would be strewn all over and I’d be amazed that I’d have this mess to tend to. My human heart went out to the mama bird. But, then I realized that she flew away once the babies did. She just left!
What a great idea! Wait! I can’t just leave when the house gets messy, but I liked the option being on the table at least.
It’s been a few months since we dropped off our son at college and the transition is still happening. Some nights I’ll set the table for 4 and I’ll feel tremendously sad. Other times I’ll get accustomed to the 4 of us being at home, then the college boys will come home and I’ll have to reconfigure meal amounts, how much milk we need, and where all the cars need to be parked.
It’s not easy, all this mothering. The planning, prep work and nesting. And all your hard work tears a part of your heart a little when they fly off and make their own nests. The process is hard and good and so, so lovely and it makes us who we are as mothers and as people.
What a gift it is to mother and to watch my nest and to know through it all the Father holds it in His hands.