In three short weeks we will be taking our oldest son to Edmonton, Alberta to get him ready for his first class at Vanguard Bible College. I find it so hard to believe that we are already at this stage in our parenting experience, as it feels like only yesterday he was shovelling cheerios into his toothless gob via one very chubby slobbery finger.
I am so proud of the young man he has become and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for him in the days, months and years ahead. But I must say, letting go of his childhood and launching him in to the future has created such a wide range of deep emotions not yet experienced. How can so great an excitement for what is to come and such a nagging longing for the past dwell in a mother’s heart simultaneously? It truly boggles my mind!
For all who have had their children grow and move on, you understand this paradox full well. My husband and I are buckling up tight because things are about to get drastically different…but in a strangely good way.
The term empty nest conjures up for me images of baby birds flying from their parental lodgings into the great unknown. At first these babies rely on their parents for everything; food, shelter, protection around the clock. As they grow stronger, their wings begin to develop strength and agility as they practice flapping in the nest. Time progresses and they grow to mature birds ready to fly out on their own. They have been raised by their parents, have learned what they need to know and are ready to discover what lies beyond. Hence leaving behind an empty next.
I know as I pass by his empty bedroom each day and call out, “Get up,” there will be no response. I will miss hearing him ask his Dad on a Saturday morning, with anticipation, “Are you making pancakes today?” I am very aware that evening dinners will be much quieter in his absence. I will greatly miss his corny jokes and crooked grin, his intense excitement for all things sport related and his ability to talk your ear off when the mood to chat hits. But I know that we, with the help of the Holy Spirit, have raised a young man ready to be released into the world.
He is aware of the power of the Holy Spirit in his life. He knows how to pray and develop a passion for the things he believes in. He is respectful of others and shows compassion. He has cultivated Godly values and dreams that will carry him through the toughest of times. We did the best parenting we were capable of, leaning on the Lord every step of the way, and we are proud of the results.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We aren’t done parenting. It’s just going to change a bit. We will still get to see him on school breaks. He will still be just a text or call away. He will still seek advice and guidance from us because, well, he has realized that we do know things!
He will always be my baby bird and will always be welcome back to our nest. But I know and respect that he has a nest to build of his own…complete with cheerios for his one-day little birdies! He will do such a great job! Of that I am certain! We will be his biggest cheerleaders and encouragers; constantly praying for his life! The nest may be emptying, but this momma’s heart is so very full. Praise God!