Leaving the Nest

By Alicia Massinople-Scott

In early spring 2017, my family noticed a little sparrow that had taken up residence in the far corner of a shelf in our garage. Among the cords and small tools was a cozy nest of twigs, straw, and some pink fluff (maybe insulation). Without getting too close, we noticed three tiny eggs nestled inside. Somewhere outside a mama bird was patiently waiting for the day her eggs would be replaced by fledglings, dependent solely upon her for survival. Often, she would be sitting patiently on her precious parcels.

One day, the silence of the nest was broken by the sound of harmonious peeping. The duties of motherhood were upon our sparrow. The demands were high, but our mama was blessed with energy and devotion to provide for her babies for the next several weeks.

One afternoon, my younger daughter and I were heading to her soccer practice when she noticed that the nest was empty. Just like that, the fledglings were gone! We could hear peeping coming from a nearby bush. We spotted two of them. At the same time, my daughter noticed a third baby bird underneath my vehicle, with mama trying to coax it out. My daughter shimmied underneath the car to try and shoo out the baby bird, but it jumped up and into the guts of our SUV. Mama began chirping more frantically. We had done more harm than good. I suggested that we go back into the house and give the two distressed birds a few minutes to work this out. Shortly after, we peeked outside and saw all four sparrows near the bush, happily chirping about their reunion. The wayward bird had found its way out! Mama was there, too, but now only as a spectator as her offspring were soon heading to new horizons. Her job was complete.

As spring 2017 traveled at mach speed into summer, I often thought about this scenario. The time between discovering the eggs and seeing the birds healthy and ready to take their rightful place in nature, gave me food for thought. In a few short months, my eldest child would be leaving for college. How could we be at this stage already? The memory of returning home solo on the first day of preschool was too vivid for 18 years to have passed! But pass they did, and now I began to feel the pangs of that day when she would start her daily routine in a dorm room and not her bedroom in our home.

One graduation party (and numerous visits to Bed, Bath and Beyond) later, we found ourselves in a chaotic university parking lot. The nervous excitement of our daughter and the formidable task of unloading a myriad of college essentials put my brain into overload. Were we really going to drive away without her? Were her father and I now going to stand by while she navigated through her “new normal” without us? On that sticky August morning, my mind drifted back to nearly 40 years earlier when I was standing in a parking lot with my parents after a four-hour trek from my beloved home. Nearly every detail of that day was transported to the present, as we prepared to leave our daughter to begin her next chapter. But today, I was watching the scenario play out from the eyes and hearts of my parents. Times have changed, but some life experiences simply don’t.

Naturally, we left the campus that day. I’m sure my husband was in a state of shock despite the knowledge that this day was written on the calendar since 1998. I thought of our mama bird. I thought of my parents. The passage of time can bend some memories into a different light, yet some are as crystal clear as the day they were formed. As graduation 2019 looms in the near future, many of us are beginning to feel the pangs of letting go, either for the first time or once again. We may not always be ready, but we can trust that it’s all in the Plan, and that is a good thing.

This story first appeared in UPPER ST. CLAIR TODAY's Summer 2019 issue on page 26.

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