Not all eaglets are eager to leave the warmth and safety of the nest. For those reluctant babies, the parent eagles tempt the young by flying with choice bits of food just out of reach. The parents engage the eaglets' curiosity - and hunger - encouraging them to spread their wings and fly.
I doubt the mama eagle gets all emotional and sappy about this process. I don't know much about reading the facial expressions and body cues of raptors, but somehow this look does not convey, "Oh, I can't believe my baby's all grown up and flying. Sniff, sniff, cry, cry."
Rather, I'm interpreting this as, "Girl, get your tail feathers out the house! Seriously! Thinkin' I'm the maid and the cook and the chauffeur all the time. Nuh unh!"
Today, in one small sense, my baby girl left the nest. Her flight feathers are in. She's been watching and practicing. We've been eagerly preparing for this day - tempting her curiosity (and hunger). "Once you get your license you can go to your friend's…the movies…the store…drive yourself home from practice… whenever you like, but right now I'm busy so you need to wait."
I have been EXCITED about this rite of passage because in many ways life just got easier. The 70 minute round trip plus one hour wait time I endured on Monday evening so she could catch pitching lessons for a friend? No more. The text on Tuesday at 4:50 that the practice that was meant to end at 5:30 is over so could you pick me up NOW (when we live 20 minutes away)? Done. The how to get your brother to Rock Creek and you to English Station at the same time? Not a problem!
So, yes, we've been encouraging this. But there was still a clutch in my heart when, after successfully passing her driver's test, she dropped me off at home and drove away, alone, to school.
I hope we've been good teachers - that what she's learned from observing us will carry her through the challenges of navigating tight merges and road construction and crazy drivers.
I hope home will always be a safe place to land, but not so safe that it stifles her curiosity or desire to explore what's around the next bend. (And I hope she takes that bend at a slow, steady speed on dry pavement, easing into the turn.)
I hope she soars.
But it's still hard to watch her drive away.
This Subaru commercial nailed it. "Daddy, okay!"