I'm not who I was.
Meet Hawk (daddy bird), Cactus (mama bird), Flappy Bird, Song Bird, & Chicken Wing, as named by my 8 year-old.
Break out of your shell.
You can’t finish what you don’t start. You might “crack” along the way, but press on. Some things need to be broken for strength to shine. Fear of vulnerability will leave you paralyzed and “blue”.
Kids look up to those who care for them to see what they could become.
Work together at investing in your children.
I’ve often observed both parent birds taking turns feeding the babies. Sometimes they did so together. This was difficult to capture because, although the birds got somewhat used to my presence from the other side of the kitchen window, it made them far more nervous to come around while I was outside, which is the preferable location for taking pictures. One morning I was exceptionally close (still inside) with Cheeks, who is much more wiggly than I am. Daddy Bird stopped in his tracks, mouth full of wriggly worms, eyes wide. Mama Bird sat firmly on her nest. Eventually, Daddy Bird gained enough confidence to go over to the nest, but instead of feeding the babies directly, the birds first worked together at pulling the worm into smaller bits in order to minimize the exposure of the little ones to the possible threat. There are “things” that our children need now, or will inevitably experience. These may be physical needs, knowledge, or circumstance. It is our job as parents to be the gatekeepers of our home… to filter what goes in so that what is received can be easily digested and put to nourishing use. We want our children to be functional, contributing members to society. But we have to be careful about what content we let in when and how much, otherwise the wrong timing or exposure could cause our littles to choke, or worse: be eaten alive in their moment of vulnerability.
Be a shelter in the storm.
We experienced what many around here refer to as “Dogwood Winter”. After the dogwood trees bloom, there is often at least one cold snap. This cold snap had us from the low 80’s to the low 30’s in a day, and we even woke up to unseasonable fat flury flakes. But before the flurry flakes, there was strong wind and pounding rain. Mama Bird’s job was to sit.
Still, those babies had to eat. Daddy Bird helped. But occasionally mama bird still had to leave the nest… actually go out IN the storm and fight her way for provision.
Sometimes protecting those we love requires obedience in stillness. Sometimes it means being active in the storm and being our child’s best advocate. It’s important to know the difference, and this is sometimes the most difficult discernment as a parent.
Your kids may not always depend on you, but your investment is vital to their development. The nest is a significant part of development. But there comes a time when parenting skills need to be shifted in order to allow our children to flourish amidst their new-found responsibility.
Then you’re left with this:
In the words of my 8yo, “Even after they fly off, they still need their daddy & mommy’s help for awhile.”
And that’s all I’ll say about that. Because I don’t want to think about it. The days are long, but the years are short.
Last but not least, I’ll leave you with this little gem: I may be frustrated about constantly cleaning up after my kids, but at least I don’t have to physically eat their poop. Hallelujah.