Some of my anticipation was relived last week with a birth… baby birds, not a baby boy, but as an involved observer, I feel like I’ve got enough skin in the game (my door, my wreath), to make the proud announcement. I’m not sure of the exact hatch date as I was out of town for a few days, but I left with eggs in the nest and came home to tiny, fuzzy-headed, baby robins. My bigger anticipation is still actively working on me in my dreams, my thoughts and with every baby from newborn to toddler that I’ve seen for the past few months (always wondering is that what my grandson will look like???) I’m anxiously awaiting while my subconscious seems to be working hard at finding ways for me to satisfy my strong need right now to align with my maternal side. The baby belly I want to rest my hands on right now to feel any kind of movement or simply to connect, is 677 miles away, so a robin with hatching eggs has come to my defense as a needed standby.
I found my family of robins while in the process of taking down my Christmas wreaths, 3 months past due, but this time my procrastination paid off. I was half way to the basement with one of the grapevine wreaths, when I realized that there was a small nest with 5 blue eggs tucked into the back side of the wreath. It was so perfectly formed that for a few seconds I wondered why in the world I would have attached a craft store piece to the back of my Christmas wreath. I’ve had some crafts go wrong situations, but this one made no sense whatsoever. Then it dawned on me… holy cow, it was real and I was the terrible person who was in the process of taking this beautifully constructed home and it’s five blue eggs down to my basement to shove it on an already full shelf of Christmas decorations. The mom, who I’m sure flew away in fear when I whisked her home off the door, had no doubt been tending to the eggs beforehand. With extreme caution and much regret, I carefully paced the wreath back to my laundry room door and rehung it, then waited in hiding, for the mom’s return. Thankfully she did return and I spent more time than I care to admit that day keeping watch over her and her growing family. The way the nest was positioned on the wreath, I could only see her tail feathers but that was enough of a sign to me that all was well and she hadn’t rejected the nest or the eggs because of the human contact. Every time she’d catch sight of me sneaking into my laundry room, it would send her flying away in fear, so I held off on doing any laundry, placed a step stool in front of the inside of the door and watched for eggs to become tiny heads peeking out, while she was out fetching food. I have spent a lot of time simply standing on the stool and looking at the back of the nest while witnessing what little I could, of this incredible miracle of nature. I think it has done my soul good.
During those nesting days, I also saw who I believed to be the dad (seriously, I have no idea how I came to that conclusion except for the fact that he looked rather proud as I’m guessing any soon to be new dad of some baby robins would be!) preening himself on a nearby rock. After watching mom, tirelessly tending to those delicate eggs, I felt involved enough in the situation to give my opinion and actually stopped my car while pulling out of my drive way, looked him eye to eye (kind of), shook my head and said,
“Seriously? Shouldn’t you be doing something to help??? She’s been sitting on those eggs for 12 days!”
This small mother robin has won my heart, taken a lot of my time and has provided me with an interesting outlet for the maternal part of me that is in desperate need of resting my hands on the expanding belly of the last person I birthed but haven’t been able to because of the miles that separate us.
As a little girl who didn’t really like to be read to, there is only one book that I clearly remember enjoying sitting though and that was “Horton Hatches the Egg.” Even as a little girl I knew that there was something very wrong with that Mazy the lazy bird’s need to be in Miami rather than in her nest, seated on her eggs. Maybe it is my love for that story (seriously, that Horton…he still makes me sigh…) that has drawn me to similar scenarios, with the opportunities to watch the incredible process of birds hatching from carefully guarded eggs then beginning their slow process of taking flight and finding their independence. I’ve watched while crouched under a kitchen window and now while standing on a stool and have always felt like there was some manipulation from the universe to give me such an “insider’s view” and with such impeccable timing. My last egg hatch was enjoyed with my daughter during graduation week of high school. It was so timely that the tiny cardinals took their first flights to the nearest tree on graduation day, under the close guidance of the father. We felt sad to see them go that morning but happy to see their return, shortly after we returned home from the graduation. Yep, the parents, mom especially, thought they were ready to fly the nest, but she was also ready to welcome them back. I understood. As a mom I had also taught my children how to use their wings but hoped even more so that they wouldn’t forget their roots. Nature, still, is my best teacher.
This robin, who sat over her eggs for 12 days became what I needed to see, to watch, to feel while my 37 weeks pregnant, 677 miles away, daughter is about to enter a time in her life and her heart that will change her forever. It is a role in life that has me looking at that mother robin and sees the maternal instinct that ties us together. I’ve been overwhelmed by watching her dedication to those 5 blue eggs that have now become 5 tiny fuzzy headed birds, only leaving them for minutes at a time to find food. My view is pretty lousy but when she is away from the nest, I stand on the stool and can peer into the nest and see a few tiny beaks open and can hear their cries for food. It feels primal and familiar at the same time as I remember those cries and my responsibility to feed my own babies, thankfully one at a time though and not a nest full. The timing of all of this is so auspicious, presenting itself to me at a time when I’m watching my own baby enter into the process of mothering. I can’t help but think back to those early mothering roles with the deepest of love and also a bit of sadness that those days are over and so quickly it seems, especially now that I see my youngest on the same journey. The maternal instinct to care for your young is so strong and watching the process of seeing this mother robin, so dedicated and fiercely protective of her nest of 5 eggs, now tiny birds, brought it all home to me, once again. Mothering is mothering, whether a bird or a human.
All of this has put my maternal instincts into a tailspin, while giving way to some letting go at the same time. I’ll always be my daughter’s mom, but she will soon become a mom herself, and with that there will be a shifting in our roles. That patient robin, dedicated to her eggs, has become a timely metaphor of my own daughter and the way she’s cared for herself and the baby she is carrying. Thankfully, her baby’s father has not been off preening himself on a nearby rock, but rather has been with her every step of the journey. Thank you, Miles. You make the letting go for me a little bit easier. The best of everything is about to come for you both.
I could hear the squeeky cries from the tiny open beaks this morning while tiptoeing around in my laundry room. The mama was out searching for food so I spent some time on the stool looking down into the nest. The view is poor but I could see 3 beaks open and a pile of fuzzy little heads. Their journey out of the nest, starting with short trips to the nearby dogwood tree will be next (dad may step in for that one… kind of like the dad who takes the kid out for his first time behind the wheel, I’m guessing) followed by short flights around the yard and then they will be gone and eventually the wreath, nest free, will be stacked among the other Christmas decorations and I will regain complete access to my laundry room. I may miss their first flights as I’ll be with my own baby bird as she enters her journey into motherhood.
The circle of life. The handing over of the roles. The love. It just keeps growing.