When Our Babies Grow Up And Leave The Nest

When Our Babies Grow Up And Leave The Nest

Nature recently taught me a lesson about my own life and the process of raising my children.


We were privileged to have a Robin build her nest on our covered back porch and lay her eggs.


It wasn’t long before the baby birds hatched. They were weak, fragile and needed the protection of their Mom and Dad just like human infants are.


Before we knew it they were moving around a little bit, their eyes were open and they were very vocal… much like our children in their toddler years.


In a heartbeat they had grown feathers, were even more vocal and were starting to look more like a grown Robin… much like our children through their youth and preteen years.


Then one day I noticed that they had outgrown their nest. It seemed too soon, but they were nearly full size and when they didn’t know I was looking their were stretching and spreading their wings preparing to fly… much like our children through their teen years.


Then one day I looked outside and had to do a double take. Our baby Robins were fully grown, perched on the edge and ready to head out into the world. I watched them nearly all day and finally tried to go out on the porch for one final photo (this one was taken through the glass… all blurry). As I raised my phone to snap the picture the baby leapt from the nest and flew across the yard to the nearby tree. Human children are just as eager to take that leap and leave the nest.

What brought a tear to my eye was what happened next. The Daddy bird came back with a worm for the baby, but the nest was empty. He studied the nest, looked around, flew out and back to the nest again to double check… just in case. Across the yard the baby called to him and Daddy finally heard. He flew quickly to the baby bird’s side and promptly gave him the worms he had brought back for him. Just like in real life, our babies may be ready to leave the nest but as their Mom and Dad we will always be there for them when they need a friend, a little help, guidance, a shoulder or just a little extra love.


Although our nest is empty, our hearts are full bursting with love and pride for them.

This past weekend our beautiful, strong, smart, kind, talented daughter spread her wings just a little and left the nest for college. This has been one of the hardest moments of parenting… ever. I still remember vividly carrying her for nine long months and being rewarded with this amazing little being. Her total dependence on us for everything as an infant slowly waned as she grew into a curious toddler, a child that wanted to learn as much as we could give her, a teen that knew it all and did things her way and a young woman that made me proud enough to burst at the seams. Although her room is now empty, my heart will always be full of love for her… and my door will always be open.


This photo was taken just minutes before I left my baby girl to start her new life as an independent young woman. I will cherish it forever. The tears I cry are selfish but therapeutic. As much as I’d love to keep her with me (always) I know she’s ready to experience the world and hopefully some day have the love that I have with her Dad and a heart full of love and pride for her own little family.


I am so lucky to be your Mom, Kaytlin.




  1. Lyn says

    Oh my gosh, this brought tears to my eyes and memories of that day when ours left the nest (I’m ‘one degree’ ahead of you at this point with my child). You’ll find yourself cherishing the times you get to spend together even more now. You’ll gleam with pride at all of their accomplishments and smile knowing that you had a little part in that because of your presence in their lives.
    You’ll still worry if they got home safely from a date or a night out with their friends. You’ll wonder if she’ll remember all of the teachings, safety precautions, what not to do, when to be especially careful, etc., etc. that you taught her growing up. And you’ll silently breathe a sigh of relief to hear from her when she calls the next day to tell you how the date, etc. went. You’ll still want to talk to her a dozen times a day, but you’ll give her her space, because you know she needs to grow independent on her own. Then suddenly one day you will look at her and know that she truly has grown into a beautiful young woman! But she’ll always be your baby. :o)

    • Thanks Lyn. I am trying to resist calling her a million times a day (and texting). I’m already ready for her to come home and visit and she’s not even missing us yet (too much to do). She asked me if I’ve set up my office in her old room yet. I can’t even go in there without crying yet *sniff*.

  2. So sweet!!! Thanks for such lovely story and photos!

  3. Lyn says

    LOL I hear you! Oh, she’ll miss you, just as soon as there is the first crisis… she doesn’t like one of her professors, to complain about a roommate (if she has one), is hungry for some homemade cookies, or the inevitable needing extra money for something that comes up unexpectedly. Since I wasn’t that familiar with texting, we seemed to have settled into a phone call every other day (which I sure she equates with keeping Mom happy). The funny thing is that everyone always thought I’d be the basket case when she left (only child – spent all my time with her growing up) and it’s my husband who is the worst! He starts fretting when we haven’t heard from her every other day. LOL Just know that it does get easier…although I do still have her room the same as when she left (with new bed linens), for her visits back home and in case she ever needed to move back home, which I’m sure will never happen at this point. Now I just hope that she’ll come back to this state in the not-to-distant future so that we are within a reasonable driving distance from her. :o)

    • My daughter Skyped with us this morning. I loved seeing her. She had asked me recently if I had set my office up in her old room yet (she cleaned it out except a bed, her old computer desk and some drawers… which she set up nicely with my blogging business cards on it when she left) and I told her… nope, makes me cry to go down there. She laughed at me like I’m crazy. *sigh* It helps to have 3 at home to focus on… but down times let my mind wander and I worry. I hope she makes friends soon.

  4. Aunt Rosie says

    Great writing Heather. I remember the empty nest syndrome all too well, you are lucky you have “refills” to help with the void. I think Kaytlin will do well in anything she does, you have done a GREAT job mom!!! How is Emma doing with her big sissy gone?

  5. betty says

    I agree – kids seem to grow up so fast. You turn around and they are heading off to college and it just doesn’t seem possible. When I went off to school and then on to work, longdistance phonecalls were for emergency. I’m greatful that today we do have ongoing contact with cell phones and social media.

  6. Mimi says

    This post, while being such a good analogy has me in tears and my daughters have been gone from the next for 4 yrs. They’ll always be our babies. It’ll get easier, Brett. I promise.

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