Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Flying the Nest

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.

14 comments:

Jackie said...

Karen...I loved this post and it brought tears to my eyes. I have a quite a while before mine are out of the nest but I already think about it because it goes so fast. BUT...there are also those days when I crave quiet as well. Thanks for posting this.
Jackie

Paula {Salad in a Jar} said...

This made that familiar lump come to my throat. It was cheese instead of milk for me. Guess I didn't quite realize who was eating all the cheese.

Great post Karen. Love all the comparisons. I think it helps to write about it like this, don't you?

Rizzi said...

BRAVO, BRAVO, KAREN, LOVE YOUR POST, I READ IT WHILE I WATCHING THE WALTONS, AND I COULD FEEL THE LUMP IN MY THROAT. IT IS HARD WHEN THEY LEAVE THE NEST, BUT THEN YOU TURN AROUND AND THE TEEN ONES, AS YOU SAID WANTS THIS AND THAT, THAT LUMP IN YOUR THROAT GOES AWAY FAST. LIFE GOES ON, BELIEVE ME IT GETS BETTER. LOVE, AUNT RIZ

Becky said...

You have said it beautifully, and with tenderness, perhaps because you are experiencing it all right now. We, too, had the nest that emptied and then the mama came back ... several times in fact ... confused. And we emptied our own nest a year and a half ago. I still cook too much food for two. WE eat a lot of leftovers :)

Joanne said...

Times of change stir such emotion, don't they? I feel so fortunate that both my daughters chose to commute to college and live at home. We have a good time together still :)

Linda Hoye said...

You will grieve for a season, but I predict that you will come to embrace your empty nest one day. I did, eventually. (not to say I don't look back on the old days with sadnss sometimes)

Judy said...

What a lovely post Karen.

Dandy said...

Fantastic post Karen :)

Frog Hollow Farm Girl said...

Hi Karen, I loved reading this post and understand how you're feeling. If, as parents, we've done our job, our children should want to leave our nests and create ones of their own. For me, the bittersweet times came when I perhaps questioned how well I prepared them or how I could have been a little more patient and knowing what I know now, how I would have done some things differently. When Katie left for college I think Frank took it harder than me - although it was hard for me to leave her at her campus (who would take care of her - there was actually a moment of real panic in the parking lot!) I enjoyed the space and calm in the house for awhile and really needed to recharge on several levels. But of course I felt guilty feeling this way because good mothers should be missing their children, right?? I still buy too many groceries and cook too much food - and when they do come home now it's a mini-celebration and time to connect and enjoy. They are both on their own but love coming home, and I know that I did my best as a parent, even though it was not perfect on many levels. Oh, I'm going on and on - forgive me!! Glad you enjoyed following our trip to Italy on Facebook - and my recent posts about our cooking class. More recipes and photos to come! Take care! xxoo

Bee Jay said...

Thanks for your comments Karen. I loved reading about your family of owls. I never realised they were so visible in the daytime - we don't get too many here but mostly they are 'more-pork' birds who only seem to be around at night time. I too love to watch the birds at nesting times although ours are rather different 'down under' than your northern ones.
Blessings!

Life with Kaishon said...

Oh no. This made me cry and cry. My baby is 11 but I was just counting the years when he will leave for college. Only 7 more years. And we both know, they will fly by in the blink of an eye.

PS Congratulations on your cleat throwing ability. That is impressive.

Leslie said...

Such a pretty heart felt post. I am with you Karen.
Have a great weekend.

Anita said...

I like your owl family methaphor. We can learn much from animals.

You'll be fine. You'll adjust. (Speaking like the expert that I'm not!)

One day you'll wake up, and you'll have new daughters and a new son, and grandbabies!

Renna said...

Beautifully written post, Karen, so very poignant. I nearly cried over the part where you cried over the Mama Robin with dinner, and no chicks to feed.

I was tickled about your 14yo daughter being ready to move out. My daughter (27 now) literally began at the age of 12 declaring she was moving out on her 18th birthday (wish I had a nickel for everytime she said it). She did move out, too...just shy of her 21st birthday! ;-Þ