the not-so-empty nest

Ah, the nest.

Over the course of this past year, I have amassed a small collection of discarded bird’s nests. My husband found them here and there while working in the yard, and as he would bring them in, I would collect them, just as a rustic reminder that to some, home is a very simple place.

A place to raise your young until they can set out on their own. To spread their wings and fly, so to speak. The mother bird just gives her young a good nudge and it’s so long Tweety! You are officially on your own!

If only it was really that easy.

Admittedly, I don’t know if those baby birds, pushed from their nest for that first awkward flight, ever make it home again. I have no idea (and I probably knew once upon a time, but I’ve long since forgotten) whether or not the baby bird has a period of adjustment where he gets to come and go as he pleases. Does he still dine on the worms his mother brings him? Does he continue to seek shelter in the family nest? Or is he really and truly on his own, from his first flight, forward?

Even if that baby bird is hereafter an adult, how do I translate that lesson to my very own hatchlings?

I remember being pregnant (oh so many years ago) and as the last trimester was coming to an end, complete exhaustion washed over me in wave after wave. I was as big as a house, carrying a strange invader who kicked and squirmed until my ribs were sure to break. The only thing for certain was my need for sleep…as much as I could get.

Imagine my surprise as I suddenly felt a surge of renewed energy and the desire to prepare my nest. They say it’s instinctual for a mother to know when it’s time for the final preparations for baby.

Somehow we just know.

So why is it we don’t seem to have that same instinct to nudge our birdies from the nest when the time has come? Oh, sure…I know a few who do. And admittedly, I found them a bit harsh when they said they were booting their kids out the day they turned 18. Does every baby bird reach maturity at the same pace? Are mother birds everywhere pushing unprepared young from the safety of the tree to the cold harsh world below? Am I the only mother who worries over owls, and snakes, and other assorted prey lying in wait for an unprotected baby bird?

Probably not.

And who knows…maybe instinct is an individual thing. Perhaps it’s more than being tired of their collection of dirty dishes or wishing for a little peace and quiet in our Nest Sweet Nest. Maybe it’s a mystical combination of understanding and serenity.

Right…it’s about wet towels and the last Pop Tart.

Or just maybe, it’s the little birds who understand it’s time to go and we momma birds simply can’t bear to watch them leave.

But in due time, they all do.

Until the next time…I’ll be preparing for an empty nest.

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Posted on January 17, 2012 .