Not two nights before, I had picked up her still-warm, lifeless hatchling off the concrete slab of our porch and slid it into a shoebox for my husband to dispose of away from the peering eyes of my two little boys. She stared at me as I took away her baby, and I watched her nuzzle in closer to the surviving sibling who had always been the larger of the two birds that had hatched.
At least two times a year for the last ten years, the corner of our patio cover has been the home of countless mother doves and babies.
This was the first time we were aware of losing one.
I know the mourning dove life cycle all too well after witnessing it time after time. The mother and father prepare a nest, gathering random twigs from the circumference of our backyard and slowly building something nurturing out of seemingly cold and hard pieces of nature.
The mother sits for what seems like forever.
She sits through dogs barking and cats stalking. She sits through hunger as she waits for the father dove to bring food to her. She sits through the loud noises of fireworks during Independence Day celebrations.
She patiently waits.
The eggs hatch, and she becomes a mother. She feeds and nurtures and provides the warmth that only she can give to ensure the survival of her babies.
I stood at my patio window and looked on with curiosity. The mother had lost one of her babies a couple of nights before, and I was watching as the life cycle continued on, unimpeded by tragedy.
It was time for the surviving hatchling to learn to fly. The fluffy grey bird, fragile yet round with downy feathers, stood at the edge of the nest, unsure of what to do next. Its mother sat on the concrete below, just out of sight and waiting, once again.
I watched silently as the mother sat motionless on the ground, never taking her eyes off her unsure offspring.
In that moment, I felt panic rise within me, and I noticed that I was projecting my own parenting habits onto a wild animal in my back yard.
If I were that mother bird who had just lost one of my babies, would I not be frantically flying back and forth around the surviving baby?
Wouldn’t I somehow try to guide him gently to the ground, reassuring him the entire way that he was strong and he was able (and if he weren’t, that I would catch him)?
The mother dove knew what deep in my heart I know as well . .
[Tweet “Our children have never been ours, and they are held by the very hands that created them. “]
Our frantic fluttering that tries to cover our children with a wingspan, which is never quite long enough, is a statement of our distrust in the very One who gave us our wings.
Eventually the baby bird fluttered awkwardly to the ground, and the mother guided him over to a safe place at the edge of the yard. I breathed a sigh of relief and walked away knowing that I had come face to face with my own tendency to try to take complete control of anything that involves my children, especially their safety.
God loves my children more than I do. My head knows this . . . but my heart?
My heart cannot fathom a love greater than my own for my children.
It is in this disconnect that I find myself constantly at war. I want to believe that I am able to completely protect my children at all times, yet I know this isn’t so.
[Tweet “As moms, God is asking us to trust. “]
He’s asking us not only to be the mother bird patiently waiting for her child, faithful and believing that He will guide our children safely; He is also asking us to be the baby hatchling, unable to see that our loving Father’s eyes are always upon us, but believing He is there in the shadows.
He is asking us to be brave enough to stretch our wings because He is strong enough within us.
He is able. He will catch us if (when) we fall.