Parenthood, Fledglings, Marge Fenelon, Empty Nesters

It’s ridiculous, you know. All this pish-posh about fledglings growing up and leaving the nest.

Friends tell me I should be happy, that this is the way it’s supposed to be, that a parent’s responsibility is to raise children who become strong, capable, and independent adults.

Well, the children I’ve raised have become strong, capable, and independent adults and now one of them is moving to another state. Not as in “we can drive to visit them in a few hours.” No, that would be too easy. No, this one is moving away as in, “we have to board the dog and take a plane to get there.”

As if that weren’t enough, the one moving so far away is my one and only daughter, my Baby Girl. I love my sons, deeply. But, there’s something about a mother’s relationship with her daughter that is different – deeper and more knowing in many ways. There’s a different kind of connection between mother and daughter than mother and son.

A friend recently tried to cheer me up by reminding me that there’s texting, and Skype, What’s App and other such means to keep in touch. Nice, but I can’t use any of them to hug my daughter.

I have peers who are delighted with their new-found freedom after having the last fledgling leave the nest. They assure me that, once #4 is out of the house, my husband and I will embark on an whole new, wonderful adventure.

What was wrong with the old adventure?

No, #4 can take his time moving out, and the other three can move right back in, as far as I’m concerned.  I do not like the thought of being an empty-nester and I do not like the thought of any of my kids living farther away than I can drive in a few hours (even that’s too much, in my opinion).

That’s what my heart says.

My mind tells me something completely different.

My children never belonged to me in the first place. They were given to me – I like to say, loaned to me – by God.  He created them in my womb for a specific purpose, and that purpose, in many respects, has absolutely nothing to do with me. I was merely the instrument through which they came into this world, and through which they grew to know and love their Creator. My job was to raise them well, lead them to the Faith and then let them go so that they can fulfill what it is that God has in store for them.

Along the way, I’ve had the privilege of caring for them, getting to know them, teaching them, spending time with them, marveling at their abilities and gifts, and of having a connection to them that can never be broken.

You see, no matter how far away my children may be – a car ride, plane flight, or ship’s voyage – I will always be their mom, will always be connected to them in my heart and will always have both the gift and responsibility to pray for them.

The Psalms come to mind.

Certainly sons [and daughters] are a gift from the LORD,

the fruit of the womb, a reward.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior

are the sons [and daughters] born in one’s youth. (Ps 127:3-4)

What happens to an arrow?

You place it in the bow, pull back on the bowstring, and then…release it. The bow follows the course designed for it and lands on the target. Did you ever notice what happens right before the arrow is released? There’s great tension in the archer’s hands and arms and in the bow and bowstring.

But once the archer lets go, the tension launches the arrow forward and then releases.

If I try to hold onto my kids, it will be nothing but tension because we’ll be defying God’s plans for all of us.

It’s similar when a fledgling leaves its nest.

Initially, there’s some tension between Mama Bird and Fledgling. Then, out goes the Fledgling, who quickly learns – perhaps eagerly – to fend for itself. Fledgling starts to build her own life, yet Mama Bird watches from a closeby just to be sure everything’s okay. Once she’s positive all is well, Mama Bird goes her merry way.

I’m okay with the first part of that, but I definitely won’t be going my merry way.

My fledglings will never be totally gone from the nest, and I’ll never be far away from them spiritually. For all of them, I’ll remain close by in my heart, perpetually covering them with the wings of my prayers.

The whole idea of fledglings leaving the nest and being gone completely is, well, for the birds.


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