We have been preparing for this moment for years...we just didn't know it. Every time we dropped them off at a friend's house, a movie, or at the mall, we were setting the stage for the big one. Today, we watched our children pull their suitcases toward an airport's security clearance - together, but apart. Together as brother and sisters; but apart from us, their parents. This is a moment that will be etched in our memory just like the first day we brought our children home from the hospital. Sure, parents of all times have watched their children take flight, but until it's experienced it's a foreign concept.
As parents, we live in tension. We bemoan the fact that time goes so fast. "I can't believe how time flies" is the expression heard around the world, millions of times per day, as each birthday is celebrated. We look at old pictures and home videos and wish we could turn back the hands of time and recapture the days when our children crawled along the floor. But at the same time, we look forward to milestones in our children's lives such as graduations, weddings, and new births. Inwardly, we long for the hugs and kisses our children used to give us. Outwardly, we're training them for life on their own - knowing that their full independence is our goal.
It's an old and often used image of a mother bird pushing her young out of the nest, but it models our lives so closely. During the early days and weeks of new life, in all types of weather, the mother works night and day, evades predators, protects her nest, and scavenges for morsels of worm and weed to feed her young. And then the day comes - and only she knows - when the time is right for her fledglings to leave home. It must be a bird with a lion's heart that can push her baby out forcing it to fly. If it fails to fly, it will die. So, she has to be sure it's ready for the first flight.
We didn't push our kids out of the house this morning. They were eager to leave! As parents, we've tried to give them the tools for survival and life skills to flourish. Are they fully ready to live alone without us? Probably not. Hopefully, not yet! But they're close. Close enough that we didn't include special notes in their luggage the way we did when they went off to summer camp or a friend's cottage.
God has been good to us. He has graciously given us three beautiful children that are now testing their own wings and are flying solo. For a few days, we'll be empty-nesters. But by God's grace, they'll fly back to us...on a wing and a prayer.
Here's hoping time flies!