I visited the owls again this morning. I must have been there during the morning nap because the three chicks, who aren't so little anymore, were snuggled down in the nest and Mama Owl had found a branch to perch on nearby. There just isn't enough room for her and her growing brood, each of them measuring about a foot in length. In fact, yesterday, one of the babies stepped out on a branch to perch for a bit. I could imagine him saying, "Everybody's pushing me! I want my own room!"
Reminds me of my own 'brood' of three. We are fast approaching the time when our nest will feel noticeably emptier. Our oldest is making plans to find his own place this summer and the Middle Child will be going away to college in the fall. The Girl Child wishes she could move out, but at 14 she'll have to tolerate her hopelessly old-fashioned parents for just a few more years.
I wonder if Mama Owl has any idea what lies ahead. Her instincts tell her that 'enough is enough, I've got to start teaching these kids to be independent.' But does she remember what it was like to fend for only herself, eating when she happened to see a tasty field mouse running by, spending lazy afternoons snoozing on a tree branch, nights out on the town? I wonder if she's yearning for those days.
Will she be a little confused when the day comes and the nest is empty and her job is done? A couple summers ago, a family of robins took up residence on our back porch. For weeks, we watched them, waiting for the eggs to hatch, then listening to the cheeping and then the ruckus as the mama bird worked all day to keep them fed. I remember the day they flew the nest, the three of them lined up on the rafter. I never got to see any of them actually leave, but I remember watching the last one who hung back for hours as he tried to make up his mind if he should go for it or not. I was surprised that the mama bird was nowhere to be seen that day, although I imagined she must be in a nearby tree, coaxing him. And then, there were no little chicks left. And the mama bird came back with a big fat worm in her mouth. She looked a bit confused, as though she forgot that this was the day her babies were moving out. Maybe her instinct for feeding her babies was so strong that she couldn't let it go. She eventually dropped the worm and flew away. I cried for her.
Will that be me someday, coming home from King Soopers to an empty house lugging two gallons of milk?
Most days, I take it in stride. I haul gallons of milk into the house, buy laundry detergent by the case, and fling shoes up the stairs when I'm tired of tripping over them. (Those size 14 cleats do require a bit of a windup and a straight aim, and I'm getting pretty good at it). But, admittedly, there are days when I feel like that Mama Owl and I long for a branch to sit upon, away from the chaos. I just have to remind myself that it will come soon enough.