Leaving The Nest…No Regrets

Hungry robin chicks © 2011 Beth Billstrom

Noisy, but irresistible, these robin chicks had their mom and dad racing around my yard, pulling up earthworms, and dashing back to the nest all day long.

© 2011 Beth Billstrom

Squawking and chirping, they were relentless in their demands for fat, juicy worms.

© 2011 Beth Billstrom

Fully feathered and bright-eyed, they seemed ready to fledge to me.

©: 2011 Beth Billstrom

By the end of the day, mom and dad robin also realized the chicks were ready to feed and fend for themselves.  The next day the nest was empty.  Sigh.  It happens so fast.

©: 2011 Beth Billstrom

When I discovered the robin’s nest a month earlier,  I knew I was looking at a fast-track analogy of my life.

Within the woven walls of grass, twigs and mud I could envision the rapid cycle of babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers, elementary school years, tweeners and then teenagers-morphing-into-young-adults eager to leave the nest.  You see, in a few short weeks my oldest son would graduate high school.  Somehow over the past 18 years he morphed from the baby chick I-couldn’t-keep-full to a fully grown young man eager to leave the nest.  He’s ready to see what he can do on his own, ready to feed and fend for himself.

Staring at those eggs brought the past 18 years into sharper focus.  As my son readied himself this past year to embrace college campus life, so did I.  Since Christmas I’ve wavered from being the proud parent of a soon-to-be-graduate, to questioning everything I’ve done since his birth and wondering if I could have done better.  It’s been an emotional year filled with weeping, laughs, concerns and prayers.  There have been many moments when I knew that life would not be the same, and a few moments when I was glad that life would not be the same.  (Teenagers do that to you.)  But mainly, I just haven’t wanted him to leave the nest. I wasn’t ready. But in the last few weeks, I’ve come full circle.  He’s ready and so am I.  He can go forward and I have no regrets.

Why the change?  It’s all about the love.  Whatever I did or didn’t do for my son, I did out of love.  Parenting is probably the first job that I threw myself into for no other reason than the love of it, even though at the time I really had no idea what love was really all about.  Love for him, love for parenting, love for love’s sake.  Children teach us to love.  It’s the gift I thought I was giving my son, but really, it’s the gift my son has given to me..

And what a gift it is.  Thankfully, I will never be done being a parent.  While our relationships will change, I will always be Mom to all three of my sons.   I’m glad about that.  Each one will leave the nest, and I hope that each time one leaves I will come to this same place.  A place filled with joy, peace, love, and no regrets.

I love you, Jake!  Go get’em!