The empty nest

I’m a frequent visitor at my daughter’s house. Mary has her hands full taking care of three little people under the age of five and I enjoy helping out even though I’m now sorely outnumbered!

Several weeks ago I became aware of a “whoosh” whenever I’d step out the front door and onto their small porch. I soon realized I was being strafed by a mamma bird who’d built her nest in an eave of the portico. She picked a perfect place. Not only were she and her carefully constructed home sheltered from the elements and out of reach of any predators that might happen by, but we could observe from inside the house without disturbing her. My son-in-law peaked into the nest when mamma bird was away and found five tiny eggs. We watched as she faithfully warmed and protected the eggs. And one day we saw five little heads, with open mouths clamoring to be fed. Mamma bird diligently cared for her brood. The little ones grew quickly . . . and then one day I went over . . . and the porch was quiet . . . and they were gone.

Even though we human mothers are given years to nurture our children, time passes so quickly it sometimes seems it’s only days, like the time it took the mother bird to raise her young. Over the years I’ve shared this bittersweet sentiment with other mothers: “If we do our job well, the end result is an independent adult.” Mothering requires a balance of holding on and letting go and the wisdom to know which is needed at any particular time in our children’s lives. It’s a difficult but necessary process.

Yet my own dear mother has often said, “Once a mother, always a mother”, a statement every bit as true as the one I wrote above. I’m convinced the mama bear syndrome knows no age limits. IMG_1073After all, of the many people who were upset when my 30-year career ended via termination, my mom was the most incensed by the treatment I’d received. Even now, at age 84, I have no doubt she’d be my staunchest defender – all 98 pounds of her. And don’t even think about messing with my kids and grandkids!

It’s that time of year – the time of graduations and weddings. So for you mothers reading this and contemplating the emptying of your nests, I offer this: one day you may realize the independent adult you worked so long and hard to raise has become one of your very best friends. Someone who brings joy to your life in new ways as you continue to cheer them on and are blessed by the fruits of your labors, and theirs.

I can still remember driving home after Mary and Justin’s wedding. I thought, “That’s it. I gave her away. It’s all over.” I was so wrong. I gained a son that night and now seven years later, there are those three little people I mentioned at the onset of this post. Mary and Justin’s nest is full and I am welcome there. Welcome to help nurture a new generation and introduce them to plants and mamma birds and to their Savior – the One who loves them even more than I do.

 

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