Author Archives: Sharon Ward

The table of life

Our family resolution this year is “to become a better version of yourself… by doing the next right thing”.  Thanks to the influence of a recent book I read by Matthew Kelly called “Perfectly Yourself”.  I placed this resolution on our refrigerator so that each time we pass by, we are reminded that we are all individuals created uniquely for our own purpose in this life.  I believe it is our job to become the best version of ourselves so that we can ultimately find out what that unique purpose is.  Who did God create us to be?  How can our purpose serve the world?

You may ask?  How do we find out what our purpose is ?  Why are we here and what could I possibly bring to the table… the table called life?

You will know the answer to this when you look deep inside.  Find out what sets your heart on fire, what you are good at, what is your passion and what special talents do you have? Everyone has something to bring to the table.  I often hear women say, that they have no talents, or no special gifts.  This is so far from the truth.  Everyone has a gift or something they are good at.   This is not an overnight answer, this takes time and growth and a lot of inward examination.  Sometimes it may even be a process of elimination, where you can say you tried something but it just wasn’t fulfilling or wasn’t coming together.  If  that is the case, then maybe it is not what you were truly meant to do.  Maybe it was not meant to be a part of your path and purpose. Keep looking, keep searching, it is there and usually right in front of you.

During your search for your purpose, do not get caught up in the cultural trap of perfectionism.  Doing what you are good at doesn’t mean it has to be perfect. There is always room for growing and learning your gifts as long as you just begin to take that step forward.  Don’t get sucked in to thinking that I am only going to be successful if I am making six figures or if my Facebook or Instagram feed has two hundred, two thousand or two hundred thousand followers. Do not fall into the trap of believing that you are not a good or successful student unless you rank in the top of your class, or get into your first choice of colleges or maintain straight A’s through your high school or college careers.  Success is not perfectionism.  It is not climbing the corporate ladder competing to make more money than your peers.  It is the accomplishment of your purpose in this life, doing what you are meant to do, to help make this world a better place and ultimately being content in that place.

My Story

Let me share my story with you. It took me many years to figure this all out and I am still a work in progress, still learning every day and things are far from perfect.

I knew my purpose first and foremost was to raise and be there for my family and to be active in my faith. But then there was a gap, a missing piece where I could express my creativity, share my talents, and bring something to the table that I was good at.

Realizing now, at 52 years old, that this was not an immediate discovery, nor was my passion for photography.  For those who did not know me in the first half of my life. I studied biology and landed a job in pharmaceutical and clinical research. At the time, it was, where I guess I was supposed to be. I do not regret my path as I also have a passion for science. (I believe I am a right brain/left brain combination:)

Little did I know that at 40 years old my life would change dramatically from corporate world to launching a photography business.  It was a lot of hard work and late nights as I built my business from the bottom up.  My hobby of photography was what sparked my passion for starting a business.  And now I consistently get to enjoy the purpose of my work by witnessing the tender smiles of parents viewing their child’s portraits for the first time, by bringing families together to create lasting memories for the walls of their homes, and by helping people to see themselves as the beautiful, perfect individuals that they are, through my lens.  For this, I am ever grateful and this is what keeps me fueled for the road ahead.

H3O Women’s Ministry (Offering a Hand, Heart, Hope and Outreach)

I was able to fill another gap in my spiritual and volunteer life through a women’s outreach ministry that a team of women and I created called H3O.  I have been leading this group through my church for almost 10 years and it has brought me much joy and many fruitful experiences and connections.  There were times in those years when I was very close to breaking the cord and stepping down as leader.  But the presence of this work in my life felt so much greater than the absence of it.  Although it can be very time consuming as I manage my own business, while keeping my family life afloat, it has been very fulfilling spiritually and socially for me.  Through this role, I was able to discover that one of my gifts, not only being photography, is connecting people and helping to inspire and lift up women and girls so they can see their own gifts and talents and use them for a greater purpose.  This group has been a place for me to meet women of various backgrounds, exactly where they are in their faith and in their lives.  A place where they can openly share, make connections and grow in faith, all for a greater purpose of giving back to the community.

What is your story?

I have met some amazing women through both my business and volunteer life who have overcome some of life’s most difficult obstacles.  They each are at a different stage or transition in their lives searching or building upon their unique purpose and sharing their gifts and talents with the world.  I am inspired by the stories and journeys that many of my clients are on.

What is your story?  Everyone has a story to share that would inspire someone.

(below is a collection of black and white images from a few women and girls I photographed who are working to pursue their talents and gifts in some form or fashion, from teenage years to empty nester.)

For anyone who is reading this and is looking for that void in their lives, ask yourself the question…What am I good at? Perhaps you are already doing it and just not realizing how many people’s lives you are influencing already.

Ask yourself, what can I bring to the table of life?

The answer is there.

Listen to your heart.





He used to tell me that whenever adversity comes your way you need to “rise to the occasion”.  I will never forget this phrase, it has helped me through many twists and turns in my life.  As a kid I used to roll my eyes when he would try to preach and teach, but as a 52 year old woman, I now know he was right all along.

My Dad “Burnsy” always talked about how great coach Hubie Brown was when we were kids, Hubie was one of many people he admired. Hubie knew how to coach a team, and talent and work ethics were tops on the list of qualities he would look for.   Burnsy also believed, like Hubie, that one of the most common problems in our society is seeing people who have great potential and great talents but are not using them to their fullest. His message I have taken into my own life’s journey as I worked hard to create the business that I wanted for myself, and for that, I truly am thankful.

Burnsy’s gifts and talents are clearly connecting to other people through his genuine personality and gift of gab.  Everyone who meets him loves him and learns immediately about his unique character, which has directly resulted in much success in his line of work. Earning awards over and over for top 5 in sales for his company (which provides oil to farmers throughout the county).

Burnsy has always been a farmer at heart.  He was raised on a farm, and then bought his own dairy farm shortly out of high school, after he married my mom. They raised us four kids on the family farm until they could no longer keep up with the demands of the hard work and the low prices they received for milk. He sold the farm around the time after we all went off to college. They eventually moved into his childhood family farm and continued to work the land.

Burnsy turns 80 years old this year, he still works a rigorous job on the road while also growing and maintaining crops to sell while providing for our mom.  It is still his livelihood and it is what keeps him going.  He is a preacher, a teacher, and a lover of all things related to the weather and preserving farm land.  When someone passes him by, you can bet his hand is always up in the air waving to them. He can grow the sweetest ear of sweet corn better than anyone I know.  If you drop in for a visit, you will leave convinced that cayenne pepper, a tablespoon of manuka honey and apple cider vinegar will heal all of your ailments.  There isn’t a meal where one of these staples are not included on his plate. Over the years, he has hired dozens of young boys teaching them the value of a hard days work, while preaching wise life lessons to them on the side. If you ask any one of them, including my husband, they will tell you the same stories over and over.

Burnsy is a faith filled man, attends church every Sunday morning, is strong in his beliefs and values and isn’t afraid to talk politics, religion or the status of this great Earth God has given us.  Even though he is criticized at times by various people who will attack his beliefs, he continues to educate himself, learn and stands strong in what he believes in.  He can be stubborn in those beliefs but for this I am grateful, because it is indifference that harms us and causes us to fall for just about anything. The words “I love you” have always been a struggle for my dad to say.  I recall when my then 2 year old daughter said “I love you papa”, and he preceded to say, “thank you” in return. We laugh about that now, but I know that his love is real and present, even though hard to deliver from the tongue.

Growing up on a farm has been one of my life’s greatest blessings.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world. We did not get the chance to travel or go on vacation as kids, but we had so much more available to us than most people did, right in our own back yard.  With over 100 acres as our playground, I knew every bit of that land like the back of my hand by the time I was in high school.  My sister and I recently started to compile all of our childhood farm stories as part of a book we would like to pass down for generations to come.  I have a story at each and every nook of that property stashed away in my mind, and remembering this now as we sit down to put those memories into words has brought us much joy and laughter.

On this father’s day, which happens to be my birthday, I write this tribute to my dad, Burnsy, so that his story will be passed down for generations to come. I am blessed to have been born into this farm family and it’s a perfect day to reflect upon all that God has blessed me with.   I hope that one day my children’s children will remember these stories of “Burnsy”,  their great grandpa and will also “rise to the occasion”.

I love you Burnsy.


A mother’s heart

A mother’s heart is a bottomless pit. It always has her child’s best interest in mind.  It is an unconditional pocket of love and at the same time a bruised punching bag, that no matter what, refuses to be deflated.

A mother’s heart will take on the world when it comes to protecting her babies, it doesn’t settle to sleep until it knows that all of her ‘people’ are safe where they are supposed to be at night.

A mother’s heart knows when her child is hurting or struggling.  It has an internal radar that goes off when she feels something is wrong. It will stand in the line of fire to protect her children from the evils of the world.  It knows when the friend is a good influence or a bad influence.

A mother’s heart doesn’t judge, it yearns for happiness.  It doesn’t always know the answer to life’s most difficult questions, but it listens and loves just the same. It gives and gives without expecting anything in return.  It sacrifices the best ‘piece’ for the little stomachs at the other end of the table waiting to eat. It knows which gifts her children have been blessed with better then they do. It prays that one day they will learn that for themselves.  It rejoices when it learns her children are happy.

A mother’s heart is compassionate and understanding even when her mind wants to scream back during the volatile moments.  It is forgiving and unconditional.  It has equal parts of love in each pocket for each of her children in the same way God loves all of his children the same.

A mother’s heart connection to her children is all at once lovely, messy, beautiful, volatile and real. It knows that when her babies are grown they will one day realize how precious, wonderful, vulnerable and human their mothers truly are and always were.

A mother’s heart never stops beating for their child even when their minds, bodies and souls are a distance away.

“My greatest gifts”

Send love to your mother’s heart today….whether she is up in heaven looking down, or miles away yearning for more or right in front of you each and every day.


For Every Girl

It pains me to hear about young girls who are developing self image issues. One of my clients was recently telling me about how her young tween was struggling with her self image, and she was only 11 years old and was hoping that if she saw herself in the images from a photo session it will help her self esteem.  I love helping women and girls see themselves in a new light through my lens. However, nothing gets my blood boiling more than the fact that our society and media today makes a beautiful young girl feel self conscious about her body and self conscious about who she is.  Who are we to compare her to a red carpet actress or to the covers of all the glamour magazines on the store shelves. Not to mention that these models spend much of their days and thousands of dollars primping and prepping for what they are told is a ‘perfect’ body image to be seen in front of the cameras or on magazine covers.

I want to scream from the rooftops to all these young ladies and tell them over and over again…. you are beautiful, you are worthy, you are enough and you are made for a beautiful purpose in this life.

I can personally relate to feeling less than, someone else, when I was a young girl.  I felt I was too tall, I was so much taller than all the boys.  I felt like a wall flower watching all the other girls dance with the boys because I towered over them.  I used to think that my legs were too fat, I used to compare them to all the other tiny petite girls in my gym classes.  I thought my hair was too curly, so when I went to bed at night, I would wear a wool hat (I kid you not) so that my hair wouldn’t be too frizzy and curly the next morning for school. I thought I was too ‘fat’, thought I had a big forehead, thought I had a double chin, thought I wasn’t tan enough, thought I wasn’t popular enough, and the list goes on. Until one day you wake up much wiser and much more self accepting.

Our lives are a journey of personal growth, of self-acceptance and self-love. Maybe it just takes us 50 years to realize we are perfect just the way we are.  Maybe some of us never learn this and it becomes a lifetime struggle.  Why do girls and women waste their time feeling this way, when there is so much in this world that they are capable of doing and accomplishing just the way they are, and so many people who love them just the way they are.  If only they could realize this now, at this moment, how important and perfect they are in God’s eyes as opposed to the eyes scrolling through social media.

For every girl who is teased in school because she feels ‘different’ and feels like she doesn’t fit in.  For every girl who feels she isn’t pretty enough. For every girl who feels she isn’t thin enough. For every girl who feels her hair isn’t nice enough, or straight enough or curly enough. For every girl who feels she isn’t pretty enough to go out on a date.  For every girl who feels that she needs to have a boyfriend to feel complete. For every girl who feels she isn’t the right height. For every girl who feels she isn’t the right size.  For every girl who believes she is not smart enough.  For every girl who feels she isn’t fast enough at sports.   For every girl who thinks she is not worthy enough of anyone’s love.

For every girl who believes she is not good enough for anything….this is for you.

You are, yes YOU are, perfectly imperfect.  God made you just the way you for a reason.  Accept yourself, let go of any false truths that you have heard over the years.  Maybe it was the classmate on the playground who called you Big Bird because you are tall, or the boy in class who called you fat. Or a parent who said something out of anger or spite, or just joking around calling you lazy or useless.  Let it go, this is not your truth.  People who say things to criticize others have their own issues. Putting someone else down makes them feel better about themselves.  Know that they are really the ones with the issues.  Perhaps they are not feeling loved in their own family, perhaps they are bullies because they are being abused at home or in an abusive relationship.   Forgive them, let it go, move on to accomplish all the great things you are capable of doing.  Don’t waste your time on the people who do not make you feel good about yourself.  You are beautiful, you are loved.  You are good enough,  You can accomplish anything that you put your mind to.

You are loved just the way you are.


I would be happy to photograph your child to show them just how lovely they are through my lens.

Contact me at (603) 493-8692 or to check on available dates.






A usual day

I make my morning cup of tea, let the dog outside, give a holler to my teenage daughter to wake up, start breakfast, help pack her a good healthy lunch (being new to ‘wheat free’ isn’t so easy), send my goodbyes as she heads out to school (hopefully on time), wait for the text saying she got to school safely (new driver). Then I take a deep breath.  I let the dog outside, start my breakfast again(mine usually comes later), let the dog back inside, feed the dog, let him back outside, feed the cat, let the dog back inside, make sure the cat and the dog do not end up in the same room or a fight begins, eat my breakfast, take a shower, make another cup of tea and spend some quiet time praying and meditating on my day before I head up to my office to work.

There are these days when I don’t know where to begin. The days when it seems like you are walking in circles never really accomplishing anything.  My intentions seem good, but I’ve been a huge morning procrastinator lately.  This whole morning process seems to take me a good couple of hours from start to finish.  I go over in my head what I need to accomplish on this day personally, for my family and for my business.   I used to write it all down in a large list, but then I realized if I didn’t finish that hard copy list, I would be working til late in the evening until it was complete.  Now if I forget something on my mental list, it doesn’t matter so much, because no one sees it and I can’t remember it, so it doesn’t really matter until I remember the next day.:) It eventually all comes together.

On any given day for my business list, I might have photos to edit, prints to deliver, invoices to create, prints to order, emails to send out, clients to contact, appointments to make, advertisements to create, writing to do, photo shoots to prepare for, accounting work, marketing projects to work on, and the next day, usually the same type of list.

On my personal mental list I may have the following:  tea time,  quiet prayer time, grocery shopping, errands to run, appointments to make, laundry to take care of, feed the dog, if I am lucky- walk the dog, feed the cat,  lunch with a friend, volunteer work for the H3O Women’s Ministry, tea time again, call my parents, call my college daughter (or text), go for a walk,  prepare dinner, appointments to schedule, dishes to do, cleaning up the house (well that is one of my biggest procrastinations), being present for my daughter when she returns from school and being present for my husband when he returns from work, and hoping to all sit down to dinner together before the evening kicks in, not to mention whatever else comes up on any given day.

This might seem like just an ordinary day to many people, but I have grown quite used to enjoying the routine of what seems pretty uneventful and monotonous, yet somehow peaceful and serene in my own little busy world. Because I am aware of how situations and health can change in a heart beat, and I know what it is like to have a bad health day vs a good health day.

This morning during my prayer/meditation time, an overwhelming feeling of gratitude came over me, when I realized how grateful I am to have such a full life with all these little things that make up my day.  Yes I do complain sometimes, about the monotonous things, like the constant influx of dishes in the sink, the dog that needs to go out 20 times a day (yes, he is bored, high energy and sometimes manipulative:) and that the cold winter seems to go on and on here in New England, and how I really look forward to my warm spring walks with my dog and my girlfriends, sometime soon. And I really look forward to my outdoor photo sessions when its a little bit warmer.

However, when I think of those people who are lonely, or without a home or a friend, or a purpose or passion, it makes me feel like all my little ‘to do’s’ each day, are more than significant, they are real blessings from God.  So many people are suffering in so many ways around me each day, whether they are battling an illness or grieving the loss of a loved one, or trying to makes ends meet to put food on the table for their family. Everyone has a cross to carry, at some point in their lives.  With my parents aging, and my mom who is currently hospitalized, I realize how fragile, yet blessed, at the same time, life can be. And I am learning that there are real challenges that come along with taking care of my own family, managing my business and overseeing my women’s ministry, while trying to be there for those other moments that come up unexpectedly. This is when all those other things become less of a priority, and in just a blink of an eye.

So on this day, this ordinary chilly Spring day in New England, that seems the same as yesterday and most likely tomorrow, I give thanks to God for all that He has done for me and the people I love, even during the difficult times.

Today was a low key day, so I had the urge to pick up my camera and photograph some of those things that are a part of my ordinary days just as they are most likely a part of your day. I share this not to bore you, but to express my deep gratitude through the daily tasks we do each day, and to bring them to light, as a way of giving thanks for all that I am blessed with and able to accomplish for my family, for my friends, for God and even for my pets, each day.

My morning ritual of making tea, I can’t start the day without it, problem is it is my go to excuse for procrastinating.

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This is probably about the 5th time today that our dog Bodie rings ‘his door bells’ to go outside.  I am not sure at which point he is playing around with me or when he really needs to go. 10 minutes later he is looking for a playmate.  (Sorry bud, I have things I am trying to accomplish and can’t play ball with you, again.)march 2017 blog -9-2march 2017 blog -19

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The never ending pile of dishes in my sink. I think that the St Patty’s day leprechaun is still around adding new dishes to the pile. Along with the never ending baskets of laundry that sit on our dining room table unfolded. Thank you to my awesome husband, this is one task that he took away from me, and I will not fight to get it back.

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Several times a day, our elderly cat who was recently diagnosed with 60% kidney failure, meows to get into the bathroom, then meows to drink water from the faucet of the tub. We proceed to turn on the faucet and he hangs out in the bathroom for a good hour drinking and napping until he is ready to head back down to his bed to sleep away a good part of the day.  I take this as a good sign that he is trying to stay hydrated to help extend his life. But we know to be careful if we need to shower because he will come running when he hears the water. (no he really is not trying to use the tub as a litter box although it appears this way in the photo:)!

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The cold March wind and winter like temps are playing with my brain, I cannot get warm enough, and so here I go to make another cup of hot tea.

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When this cozy fire is blazing, how can I possibly head back to work

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Back to the office to regroup. This is where I spend a lot of my time when I am not on location shooting.

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My corner of the world where a lot of editing and communicating with my clients takes place.

Blog March 2017-40-2Before I know it my daughter is home from school and headed off again to dance.  I look forward to seeing her when she comes home. And I treasure every moment when she is home because I know how quickly time goes by when they are in high school. A quick good-bye and she is on her way.march 2017 blog -6march 2017 blog -7-2march 2017 blog -8B

This is just a snapshot of my day and I thank you for taking a moment to read about it.  Think about picking up your camera and taking some pics of your usual day to keep for generations to come. You may be surprised at how grateful it makes you feel for all the little things that you take for granted.

Wishing you many ordinary days.


I want you to know…on your 16th Birthday

Dear Daughter,

It is no doubt to me that you have grown into such an amazing beautiful young woman. From the moment you were born I knew you would have a sweet kind soul.sarah-newborn-2000-2

As an infant, you decided to do things your way, you scooted around the house instead of crawling, because it got you to your destinations much quicker. You knew your ABC’s and could count to 10 before your 1st Birthday.   You learned to ride your bike faster than your big sister. As a toddler you always finished your dinner, most times first one done. One cold winter day at around 2 years of age, you chose to climb up the shelves of the linen cabinet and open the purple liquid Tylenol. Worried that you drank too much, I rushed you to the ER, while there you gladly drank down that whole bottle of activated charcoal, when the Dr offered you a grape popsicle in return. You have always been a good patient and braved so many things at a young age.



As you grew up, elementary school proved to be just another example of your talents and ambitions.  You wanted to be first to accomplish things, holding out for the A in school every semester, striving to do better and better in class, in dance and in swim you were always trying to beat your personal best. You have a witty sense of humor and a brilliant mind.


Fast forward to sweet 16, and you still light up a room with your big heart and wise mind.






Over the years, I learned some other things about you.  You always demonstrated a great compassion for others, you worried about the other kids who felt left out at recess or lunch.  You expressed an interest in volunteering in our community early on.  You are learning that life is just not all about what we accomplish, but it is more about, how we treat others. You are kind, and a good friend to many, you “get things” that usually don’t come for many until they are much older and wiser.



You have a heart for God, and it is obvious as we can see that spirit flow out onto those you come in contact with each day.

You are strong and brave and overcame some health challenges that have made you even stronger.

As you turn 16 and grow closer to becoming an adult there are some things that I want you to know. I may have said them to you before, but as a mom, we can’t help but repeat ourselves.

I want you to know that I realize this is your journey and NOT mine.

I want you to know that right now I have to be your mother first and then your friend.

I want you to know I am learning how to be a parent at every stage you go through,  just as you learned how to become a teenager and before long an adult.  And through this we continue to learn and trust each other.sarah-november-2016-46


sarah-november-2016-5sarah-november-2016-68I want you to know the rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until he or she is 25 years old or so. In fact, recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the pre-frontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. Therefore it is highly likely you will make irrational choices at some point, and because this is a scientific fact, that’s when my mature brain will have to step in. You will understand one day.

I want you to know that you can come to me with anything, I will listen and we will work through it together. You will make mistakes, I will make mistakes and we will learn to forgive one another.

I want you to know that there is no such thing as perfection.  We are all imperfect souls walking this great Earth.  Focus your eyes on God’s perfect love and He will direct you down the right path.

I want you to know that regardless of how things work out in our country, you always have the BEST Leader to look up to, He will guide you when all else fails.

I want you to know you are enough, you do not have to prove anything to anyone.  Ever. You be you.


I want you to know you are braver than you believe.

I want you to know you may fall, but you always can get back up and start over each day is a new day to do so.

I want you to know that fear and anxiety are just the opposite of love and peace.  Focus on the love and the peace will soon follow.

I want you to know that there is a lot of evil that presides out in our big world. But also know that for each and every evil deed that exists, there is still the ability to see good, to see love and kindness, and if you do not see it, then you be the light, you show them the way.  Where there is good, there is God. Always look for the good and you will steer away from the evil. Love always wins out.

I want you to know that it is always more important what’s on the inside of than what’s on the outside.

I want you to know that I will always be your biggest fan, I will celebrate your joys and hold you through your hurts.

I want you to know, when and if you are a mom one day, I promise you will feel the same for your child.

I want you to know there is no place like home, we are always here with open arms.

I want you to know, God loves you always and unconditionally and when I mess up as your parent, you can always rely on Him.

I want you to know you are loved, always and unconditionally.

Happy “Sweet 16” my sweet daughter.

Love, Momma


half the nest

I watched her for nearly an hour as she flew back and forth to her home with a morsel of food in her beak. Each time she left the birdhouse, the little chicks chirped and chirped in desperation for their mama to return again. She landed each time on the ridge of the roof of the house, looking out for danger before she leaned into the small peep hole to pass along a tiny piece of nourishment that would sustain her baby chicks.

1 and 2 half the nest

I was interested in how the mama bird lets her babies fly away after sustaining their lives for that short period of time in their life.  So I did a little research on the subject.(

It is known that most all baby birds are naked and blind when they come out of the egg. The parents work hard to keep them warm and full by feeding them every 15 minutes during the day. Most young birds ask for food by opening their beaks and peeping. The mother and father put food into their babies mouths, and they know exactly what foods are best for them.  In a very short time their eyes open and their feathers start to grow, they are then referred to as “nestlings”.   They grow so fast and in only two weeks when they have feathers and a tail they are called “fledglings”. They are curious and want to explore the world. They leave the nest even though they cannot fully fly yet or eat on their own.  They hop on the ground and call to the parents to be fed.  It will take the fledglings a few days to be able to fly up to low branches and two weeks for them to learn to feed themselves. The parents show the young birds how to find food and what to eat. The adult birds make loud noises to warn the fledglings when danger is near.

After two more weeks, the babies are as big as adults and can fly as well. They are now called “juveniles”.  Some will still beg to their parents for food even though they can eat on their own. Soon the mom and dad start preparing for their next group of babies as the last group heads off and spreads their wings to fly away on their own.  Wild birds can have 2-3 nests of young in the spring and summer.

5 and 6 half the nest

With two to three nests per year, it makes me wonder if the mama bird misses each set of young when they leave the nest. I wonder if she meets up with them somewhere secretly in the wildlife community of birds just to touch base and make sure they are okay on their own.  I wonder if they even know each other a year down the road and pass by with a little chirp to say hello.

7 and 8 half the nestAs I prepare for my own young adult i.e., half the nest, to leave and fly off on their own, I wonder if, like the mama bird, she will find the right foods to sustain her health; she will call out to me when she is scared or worried; she will still look to me for answers to some things, even though she can probably figure them out on her own.  I wonder if it’s still okay for me to chirp loudly from far away when if I think she may be in danger? Does the mama bird get upset when her young fly away and leave the nest?  If the mother child bond is so strong that she calls out to protect them from danger, how could it be that this instinct just disappears after they leave her nest?

baby fingers

As a mom, and knowing many other moms who have children leaving the nest, this is no easy task for us.  It is expected of us to nuture for 18 years, stand strong and then in the blink of an eye, let it all go. I do realize that they need to be independent and strong and live their own lives, and that God placed them in our hands to then give them wings to fly and be who they are supposed to be on this earth.

From what I have learned, college freshmen are given many opportunities for support and activities as they begin this new journey into their college.  They have all sorts of bonding activities and groups to join and counselors if needed.  But what about us parents who one day wake up and their family dynamics are not what we have known for so long.  How do we do this without falling apart, without feeling so lost from what we once knew.  Family dinners around the table.  Checking in with each other each morning and night and knowing each others schedules for the day.  As many of you have experienced, it is not easy to be on the other end of this institutional higher education thing.

baby sleeping

My heart skips a beat as I recall the days of jumping out of my bed without a thought hearing their cry from the bedroom and waking up in the middle of the night to nurse my children as they made their own unique chirp sounds for food.  We have been their only source of nourishment and the only way to provide for them since infancy. Then they start to wobble around as toddlers and want to explore the world.   We have called out to protect them every second of every day, we watched for cars passing by as they held our hand and crossed the street, we reminded them of when to bathe and sleep and eat at all the right times.  They want to do things their own way for quite some time then they enter into the juvenile and middle school ages and this goes on for years into high school, and sometimes even longer than we would like to have to remind them of these things.

Then in a blink of an eye, they must do it all on their own. They must figure out their own schedules and nourish their own bodies.   Mama bird is no longer in their midst to call out to protect them if she sees imminent danger, to cook the best nutritious food for them, to remind them that sleep is important and staying up all night long will make you feel crumby the next day.

Isle of Shoals 7-29-12 -47

As the mama bird does, we too must let them fly away.  It is our duty and their right in this life.  We have to let go in order for them to grow and learn and mature and make wise choices and meet other people who may be very different from what they are used to. To carve out their own path in this life.

I hear the same story over and over during my senior portrait sessions, when chatting with the moms, and what seems to be a common ground between us moms is the fact that there will be a gap that will be hard to fill, a gap in our hearts and souls and a gap in the family dynamics that was once all we knew.  No one is on this other end telling us what to do next, coaching us when we suddenly look around and realize that there will only be three plates on the table and not four. Or in the case of empty nesters, just one or two plates.

What I have realized in these months leading up to the time my daughter will leave for college is that, it is okay to cry.  I am a crier, and when I think about it, tears come rolling down my cheeks.  But it is okay to feel sad during this transition in life.  God gave us these feelings for a reason.  Some people cry and some don’t. And that is okay. It is a process and a transition that must happen in order to grow.

When my parents dropped me off at college as a freshmen, it was the first time I saw my Dad cry when he turned around and walked away.  It meant a lot to me then and still does to this day when I think back.  If I threw a party celebrating the fact that she is now out of the house what message would that relay?  I want her to know the depth of my love and the bond that we have and will always have.  Crying and showing our true feelings is okay, we are all human and it shows how strong that parent child bond really is.  (Just maybe have a lot of tissues and take it outside away from their new roommates. 🙂

teenager back beach

So what will I do next?

I will pray and know that God will protect her. That He will give her good friends and great opportunities.  That He will guard her heart and soul and give her wisdom to know what is right from wrong.  That He will keep her healthy and happy.

And on this other end, I will keep “chirping” and providing nourishing food and looking out for danger until the rest of the nest is empty.

One day at a time.

-Mama Bird

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