The Swing

I used to always say, “Mother feels best when everyone’s in the nest.”  Well, nowadays the nest has been mostly empty which is mostly good, but there are still lots of times when I am restless and worry about all of my “birdies”.

My youngest used to sit on the backyard swing for hours at a time.  She helped her dad rebuild the swing section of the outdoor play set because she has loved to swing and rock since Day One, plus these days she likes to build things and use power tools. When she was little, she had a green plastic rocking horse we had to take everywhere she went for the first few years of her life until she no longer fit on it.  Now, swinging is still her comfort but also her thinking and alone time (and even sing-on-the-swing time).

It would often aggravate me how much time she would spend out on that swing, even in the cold and rain, even during her college summers.  But recently when I looked at that swing from my kitchen window, I was sad to see it sitting idle and I thought of the song, “Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul and Mary and it melted me to tears.  How I wished she was still sitting out there.  Memories of days gone by flooded over me.

Jackie Paper, the boy in the song, visits Puff the Magic Dragon by the sea and they have imaginary adventures together until one day, “Jackie Paper came no more”.  He grew up.  The dragon was sad, just like this mama.  But alas, as necessary, I did my job. 

Mama may feel best when everyone is in the nest, but they can’t stay there. There is an entire world to explore. They fly away as they should. 

By the looks of that empty swing, it appears my youngest birdie has successfully flown out of the nest, soon to graduate from college.  It’s a bittersweet time that moves me to tears and emotion as I write this.  But all mamas have been there, in the land of Honah Lee, just like Puff. 


St. Patrick’s Day, 2009

Today I learned that people are fragile, just like kites. Easily torn and broken.

It was an unseasonably warm, almost spring kind of day. The wind was fairly strong, as is typical in March. My youngest daughter, who seemed to have a flair for physics, had been constructing homemade kites out of tissue paper, popsicle sticks and tin foil. Her artistic side added beautiful ribbons and bows for tails, but the kites didn’t really fly all too well, even when she stood on the picnic table to help them along. So alas, I journeyed to the store in search of kites.

I found some colorful kites of varying shapes and sizes in the toy department at the store, and my four kids were excited to try them out right away. Unfortunately, we were so impatient we made the mistake of trying to fly them in front of the house where there were lots of trees.

My youngest had the grand idea of flying her kite while riding her bike. That turned into a big tangled mess in the bike spokes, chain and handlebars resulting in her crying and running into the house.

Meanwhile, one of her older sisters and my son were doing a pretty good job navigating their kites around the trees, when my other daughter got hers stuck so badly in the tree that it took a ladder and a pole saw to chop off the entire branch the kite was stuck in! And so another child ran into the house crying!

What a nightmare it was! I was left feeling like the worst ogre mother in the universe because needless to say, I was not taking all of this very well. Who knew kites could provoke so much emotion!

Just like kites, life can become a tangled mess. We can easily become torn and broken. We can get stuck, waiting for someone to rescue us like a kite out of a tree. We must hold the kite tightly to anchor it or it will blow off into the wind like a loose balloon with no destiny.

So the question becomes, what is our anchor when life gets all tangled up and messy? Is it in Christ who holds us tightly if we let Him? Or do we run to something else that is not lasting or another flawed human who cannot possibly fill all our needs?

With a lot of patience and no obstructions, a kite will soar and fly beautifully, but that can only happen if it is anchored in someone’s skilled hand.

To this day, many years later, I still feel sad about how badly I handled that March day. It didn’t turn out all happy and delightful like the song, “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” in the movie Mary Poppins, but it is important to learn from our mistakes and move on and fly high, just like kites are supposed to do.

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