I sat on my porch swing taking in the day I hoped would never end. The sun was on its way down behind the trees. The flowers were bright and a breeze was on my cheek. Another Sunday was gone, another week came to an end. So predictable, yet so different.

Up until then things had been routine. Days were predictable like every other Sunday morning, every school week, every end of the school year. Except it wasn’t.

That particular Sunday morning, on Senior Sunday, my high school graduate spoke to his church family about things which influenced him……Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, the support he and his classmates received by being part of a faith community.

“Being in a small town, there’s accountability. Because if you mess up, everyone knows,” he said.  A doubled edged-sword in ways. There’s value in everyone knowing your name.

That Sunday wasn’t the same as I sat on my front porch. In the routine of life, my boy became a man. A man who surrounded himself with friends who held him accountable. A man who loved God not because we said so, but because he experienced His grace, faithfulness, and unconditional love. A man who began walking out of my life years ago as I needed to release him to be the man God called Him to be.

As a high school graduate, it was time to celebrate, say good-bye, and let go. It was time to fledge.

To fledge is to develop wing feathers large enough for flight or to provide feathers on an arrow. It’s what parents are called to do.

Yet, it’s hard.

In a few weeks, I’ll make the final fledge with this boy, handing him off to his bride where they’ll set up their new nest. And mine will be a little more empty. A parent’s role changes when it’s time to leave the nest. It needs to change.

We need to step aside so our sons and daughters can figure out who they are. They need strong feathers that will carry them through the storms of life. As parents of young adults, we have to be strong to nudge them into the storms so they figure out how to survive.

It’s not our job to rescue them, though we’re watching with a life raft ready at a moment’s notice.

Building strong wings doesn’t come from rescuing, but from saying, “I’m proud of you” when they make it through the storm.

In two years I’ll say good-bye to the last of four fledglings as our youngest graduates high school. I’m not going to rush these day. Each child shouldn’t be rushed off, but prepared for flight, ever so carefully. High school is full of storms, as is middle school, elementary, and even college.

As you experience big milestones for your fledglings at the end of another school year, you’ll cry. Embrace each tear of joy, sorrow, and sadness. Each one is helping you release your child to fly, lead, and grow.

But in the mundane, don’t dismiss the seemingly insignificant moments. While you’re living life, let the wind blow on your cheek as the sun slips beyond the horizon. Read a book with your kid. Let your boy dazzle you with his charm or your girl snuggle in your arms. Shed a tear, laugh out love, and kiss a cheek.

And give yourself grace as your fledgling grows, your heart aches, and your little babies fly.

This is a foreshadow of my upcoming book, Fledge: Launching Kids Without Losing Your Mind, releasing March, 2018. 

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