As we watched the new family of downy headed blue jays in our front yard, I was reminded of the parallels between teaching our children self-sufficiency and a bird having the courage to push its babies from the nest. We strive to give our children wings so they can soar into adulthood and our feathered friends trust their instincts enough to know that when given a nudge, the babies’ wing power will kick-in.
So, what happens when that bond between mother and child, mama bird and baby is broken?
Yesterday we discoverd one of the sweet, newly independent birds on the wicker rocker on our front porch. Something was wrong — he definitely didn’t belong there. The rest of its nest-mates were happily perched on branches in our Magnolia bush about 30 feet from the porch. Wearing leather work gloves, Richard gently carried this marvel of nature back to its family. He encouraged this baby to latch onto a branch to rejoin the family. Unsuccessful, he placed the blue jay on the ground within eye sight of the others.
What was going on? Did the mother bird choose not to protect one of her lovelies? Did the baby do something to make her angry? Did he leave the nest too soon and cause Mama Jay to punish him?
We watched the baby for a few hours, concerned that he would not survive. Clearly, its mother was not going to rescue it and provide the nurture and care it needed. Early in the afternnoon, our baby stopped moving. He couldn’t survive without the support and care of its mom.
So many have said to me, “You are an incredible parent. Hunter is lucky to have you as his mother,” of course, referring to how we are dealing with his coming out as transgender over a year ago.
While I appreciate the feedback and positive reinforcement, to me there is no other way. Our job is to love and nurture and nourish and guide them so when the time comes, they can spread their wings and make their way in the world. If we “push them from the nest” too soon and abandon them when they need us most, how will they know that they are worthy, that they are loved? How will they survive if we turn our backs on our children?
Timing is everything. There truly is a fine line between preparing our children and gently guiding them towards their own path versus opening the door at 60 mph. I cannot ever understand a parent turning his or her back on the most precious gift they’ll ever know.
Make no mistake, what we are dealing with is not easy. However, no matter how hard it is for me, for Hunter’s dad, for his sister, it is even more difficult for him. Being transgender is no walk in the park. So, as a mother, it is my obligation to make this difficult journey alongside him and to help Hunter gain the confidence he needs to go out in the world and be who he was meant to be. And, until he is ready to take that path of independence, I will be right along side him every step of the way.
A friend said, “yes, Hunter is lucky to have you, but you are lucky to have each other.