Last summer a bird built a nest on my best friend, Krista’s, balcony patio. Soon after the nest was finished, she noticed there were little eggs in it. Every day the momma bird would fly away and return later to check on the eggs, warm them, and wait for them to hatch. Finally they did and five baby birds were born.

Krista watched as the momma bird carefully tended to her chicks. The mom would fly away, only to quickly return to her new family with their delectable treasures of sustenance. For the span of about two weeks, the chicks grew and got stronger. And then it came time to learn to fly.

The chicks began hopping around on her patio as the mom patiently taught each one of her offspring the proper techniques to take flight. Krista would video the tender moments and text them to me. I felt like I was right there with her cheering on the chicks and encouraging them—that if they could just keep flapping their little wings then they could do it. It wasn’t long before, one by one, the chicks got strong enough to leave the nest. The momma bird had successfully done her job. Her chicks were now soaring with the clouds, strong and independent. The mom, too, flew away and left the nest in her absence. Life moved on.

My 22 year old son, Landon, called me yesterday from his apartment in Austin to tell me that he had been offered a job in Madison, Wisconsin and that he would be taking it. As situation would have it, I was not in a position to talk very long, but the enormity of the message hit me like a weight in my heart. He would be moving in less than a month.

Landon and I grew up together—I was 19 and single when I had him. He was my firstborn child, my roommate in college, my closest friend, my study buddy, my companion when I was starting my adult journey. I cringe now thinking of how much of my parenting was done out of sheer ignorance (like allowing him to basically live on fast food double cheeseburgers); but all in all, he survived.

learning-to-fly-2-cortney-bakerActually, I take that back. He didn’t just survive. He turned out to be completely amazing; and was accepted into the University of Texas as an incoming freshman, graduated with a neurobiology degree in four years’ time with a great GPA, and then proceeded to get his certificate in healthcare IT. This kid is incredible. And someone in Madison, Wisconsin agrees with me and has offered him a job.

So, as I reflect on him leaving and how it correlates to the story of the birds, I do so now with a different perspective. I have never thought of Landon taking off and forever leaving the nest; but that is the reality I must now consider. Even though I am to the core sad, I am happy for him, and know that he will always have home (and family) as a soft place to land. I’m sad that he will not be just a short car ride away; but happy he will be a plane ride home. I’m sad that he will be so far away; but happy that he is not living in my basement playing video games and living on fast food double cheeseburgers. For now, I will thank God for getting Landon safely to this point as I help him prepare for flight.

He is ready to go into the big, big world… please help take care of him. And Landon, times will get tough, but you just keep flapping—as hard and as fast as your little wings can take you.

You can do this, son. Now, it’s time for you to soar. I love you.