Momma Bird

Houston Tribune October 2004
Bridgette Mongeon © 2004

For the longest time I didn’t understand the entire concept. A mama bird in my back yard, day after day, after day, would fly to and fro gathering little worms for her precious baby birds. It’s a wonder for anyone to see. The feeding of these baby birds I understood, it is the next step in the growth cycle of the bird that had me puzzled. Finally mama gives the baby bird a gentle nudge. “Fly my little darling”.

I sure didn’t understand that concept, until of course I had a teenager in my own home that was about to go to college. My vision of the mama bird has changed a bit. I now envision the mama bird talons firmly placed on the rump of the baby bird pushing the baby bird to fly, who by the way has learned to moan and whine quite loudly, and pay little attention to what mama bird says. In fact the baby, quite irritated that the mama’s beautiful songs now sound like squawking, was ready to fly.

Any parent who has experienced the push and pull of the teenager about to become an “adult” knows what I am saying. I don’t want to sound bitter. I’m just being realistic.

I know from experience. My daughter, the writer of the story “The Rest of my Life” in this month’s Tribune, is the baby bird. I love her to death, but it is definitely time to see her fly. Through the last few months she has worked diligently making money as she wrote about in “A Real Job” July Tribune. The mound of “things I’m taking to college” grew daily. I didn’t understand half of the purchases, but now that I think about it, it was probably more about buying the first things for her own place. We have all been there, in fact, I can remember getting excited over the first can of Comet that I purchased. Sounds funny now, but that was My Comet and was going to be used to clean My toilet. Ahh to be that excited over cleaning supplies.

You should have seen the look on her face, second day in the dorm as she opened her cupboard, to reveal the fresh shelf paper and toiletries. It was priceless! In another cupboard she had all of her plates, and snacks placed perfectly and her coffeepot perched on top of her shelf. The new can opener she tried to use to open the coffee did not work, it must have been one of those dollar items. So that will be one of those things in the next care package.

College life is indeed the beginning of the rest of her life. I can’t wait to see how the experience molds and shapes her. Though she did whine a bit through the summer and we also played a small game of emotional tug of war before she left, she is an incredible young lady with many talents. I know she will do fine. That is the reason I can let go of some of my fear for her spreading her wings. Besides I am most excited about her experiences and the feeling she will get from flying.

As the mama bird sits in the nest watching the first flight I can’t help but ask myself a ton of questions. “Will she remember to study? Will she put her studies above socialization, will she be accountable for the money that she earns, and know that it needs to go to tuition?” The thoughts are endless.

There was little activity after the baby birds flew away, just the mama bird busy cleaning out the nest. I did the same thing, in fact I just finished putting my treadmill in my daughter’s bedroom.

It is a new phase in the life of my husband and I as well. Our focus is more on each other and what we would like to do for our future, maybe we can even travel! Come to think of it, it’s probably the same for that momma bird. That nest in the backyard, that once held those baby birds, is empty. Momma and papa birds have taken a vacation. I said goodbye to them as they headed south.

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