Empty Nest

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A couple weeks ago, we discovered a little nest in the crook of our carport roof between the beams.  The girls had pointed it out, and we didn't pay it much mind until we saw a mama robin flying in and out of it.  Sure enough, when we climbed up to look inside, we discovered five beautiful blue eggs just waiting to hatch.

They were so lovely, so fragile, and it was hard to imagine such a tiny thing could hold a living creature inside.  Instantly, we embraced the ritual of checking on these bitty eggs every time we left the house, seeing the mama robin swoop in and out as we annoyed her quiet home.

Last week, the babies hatched!  They were so sweet and ugly and featherless and weird looking, we couldn't help but "oooh" and "awww" as they stretched their tiny necks and poked their yellow beaks up and down in hopes that their mother would feed them.  My girls watched in amazement as the mama dug up worms and gently landed on the crowded nest ready to feed her babies.  They seemed so helpless and fragile, and I was strangely transported to remembering my own children as infants, completely unaware of their own needs.

Yesterday, the babies flew the coop.  But, not before my girls and I got to witness it for ourselves.

I was bringing out the trash, when I nearly stumbled upon a baby bird (now, fully feathered but still quite small) just sitting on the concrete.  He didn't move when I approached, and suddenly when I was only an inch away he took off, completely startled, and flew right into the side of the fence!  I ran inside to retrieve my girls for the drama.

We carefully scared the little bird to safer ground, and after a few more bumps into the fence he had made his way into the side of our front yard where he clearly had more room to practice his wings.  The mama swooped in, chirping and talking loudly overhead, clearly directing her babies to get up and try again.  We saw another baby perched on a fence post, and he too, clumsily floated to the ground in a single, brave move.

We watched for many minutes - the mama screaming, the babies flailing, and then suddenly, they had moved on.  Yesterday evening was quiet.  The nest is empty.  The babies have learned to fly.

Today is my girls first last day of school.  (Did that make sense?)  Today, they finish up their semester of going once-a-week to a Mother's Day Out program at a local church.  And, I'm reminded how (gulp) it will seem like minutes between now and their high school graduation day.  I well up with tears at the thought of how I already can't remember exactly how they were last year, let alone when they were featherless babies needing me 100%.

This time between Spring and Summer is magical moment in time - full of transitions and beauty and growth.  And I'm living in the midst of the long, stretched out season that feels never ending in the moment, but will surely come to pass all too quickly.

I'll keep the nest warm as long as I can.  I'll land gently next to you, make you a home from my heart.  And I'll feed you as best I can, to help you be strong.  Don't fly too far.  Don't fly too high.  But fly, little birds, fly.  Your nest will always be warm.

Empty nest.  Full heart.

(okay, someone hand me the kleenex!)

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