Baby Bird, the orthodontist said it was time to remove your wisdom teeth. If you don’t, when those teeth come in, they’ll mess up all the work your beautiful braces have accomplished.
But wait, hold on, slow down … you just lost your front teeth.
Yes, this is how I still view you, some days. This growing-up thing and leaving-home thing is not easy on this mama’s heart. Sometimes hard choices have to be made. You start college August 29th. Let’s get those teeth pulled now.
I’ve been watching you test-fly, Baby Bird. Pushing you out of this nest, even to the edge, has been the hardest thing this Mama Bird will ever do, because I’m a home-schooling, hovering, helicoptering mama. Unashamedly. Why should I be ashamed? I love you. I need you. God has used you incredibly in my life—to give me reason to wake up each morning, to seek His face, to fall on my face.
And I’m not sure whoever said to push your baby bird from the nest would be my friend. That could cause injury. I don’t think I like that person very much.
Because I tend to love the taxi method. Can we just keep taxiing down the runway for a very long time? Taxi down, skipping, wings touching. So I can stay beside you. But I’m not as young as I used to be, and honestly I can’t keep up with you. And I’m also completely out of breath. But eventually, you have to hit the end and soar on your own.
On your own, you walk back in the oral surgeon’s office to have your wisdom teeth pulled. I’m pretty hurt and disappointed that they won’t even let me go back with you, that I can’t hold your hand. They won’t let me be there for your first IV. The hovering, helicoptering thing has to be stifled. And I have to act Christian-like.
When I sit down, panting, I notice a text and bird-call from Grandma Bird, wondering if I’m okay. Because a mama still needs her mama. I’m going to make it, Grandma Bird.
I know baby birds have to soar on their own. Find what their own is, find their own home. I don’t need any reminders. And thank goodness I still have your little baby sister. But you’re a beautiful flyer. I love your wings, watching you test your wings, and the way you soar. I love the strength I see in you, and I’m sure you’ll soar higher than I ever could, than I ever dreamed I could.
Daydreaming, I sit there waiting and reviewing the previous days of watching you drive off in your car on a test-run with your sister and your friends to go see a movie. It’s strange being left behind. But it’s okay. I didn’t want to see that movie anyway.
And you’re a strong, independent woman.
But as I’ve been cleaning out feathers from this nest that you still inhabit, that isn’t quite empty, I wonder—do you still need me?
No, Grandma Bird, I haven’t heard anything yet.
The oral surgeon tells me you’re all finished. When I sprint back, heart-fluttering, and step into the room, you’ve been crying. Your red-rimmed eyes give it all away.
The air swooshes from my lungs. What have they done to you? That pivotal moment when Mama Bird morphs into Mama Bear.
The doctor touches my back. “It’s okay. She was scared when she woke up. That’s normal. It happens. Especially if they’re afraid when they go to sleep.” I barely remember anything he said after that. And get your hand off me.
I rub up and down your legs, loving on you. And when you’re finally able to walk, we start taxiing down the exit runway. I get you into the car, into the backseat. You were so brave, brave little test-flyer. But I can tell something isn’t right inside. Looking through the rear-view mirror, I see tears bubbling up in your eyes.
“Mama,” you say, “I had an awful feeling when I woke up from the anesthesia.” A look of horror comes over your face. “It was awful, Mama. I was so scared.”
You need me. I put the car in park, jump out of the front seat, and climb in beside you in the back. Jet speed. I hold you as minutes tick by, until all the tears dry. I’ll always hold you till the tears dry. Till you’re ready to soar again. Till you don’t need me anymore.
Grandma Bird, one thing about it, this event was traumatic.
One thing I’ve learned is that we can’t soar forever. Sometimes we hit the ground. We land. Sometimes a rough landing requires a time to rest. A time to recharge. A time to heal. And when you hit the ground, I’ll always do my best to be here for you.
For as long as I have breath.
So before school starts, before you soar, and while you’re grounded with chipmunk cheeks, an ice pack, and two shiners, I’ll take the few moments to keep you under my wing, basking in the softness, warmth, and love of you, of it all—
Like cuddling on the couch with you.
Like playing Princess Uno.
Like making homemade chocolate milkshakes, that great-grandma bird taught me how to make, and hearing, “You make the best, Mama.”
Like walking outside on a dark night and hearing, “Mama, take a selfie with me.”
Like watching you struggling to swallow pills, rooting for you, and knowing …
Baby Bird, I’ll remember these moments forever.