Dealing With An Empty Nest | WBEZ
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Eight Forty-Eight

Dealing With An Empty Nest

Our home has been an “empty nest” for nearly two years now.

After a brief indulgence wallowing in the sadness of missing my sons, I decided to take the advice I had often given them and look on the bright side. After all, since birth I'd hoped that my two boys would successfully navigate childhood, adolescence, school and go to colleges that they would be excited to leave home for.

And here are the benefits of an empty nest:

The car is always at my disposal.

There's a lot less laundry.

I can hang around in my skivvies! Leave the bathroom door open! Leave the bedroom door open!

My grocery bill plummets.

The house stays neater longer.

You have extra room, physically and mentally. I was in my older son's room recently, dumping winter clothes on his bed to prepare them for storage.

When I opened the window to let in the fresh spring air, I noticed a robin sitting on her nest, which was perched on a downspout under the eaves.

Every few days I would peek out that window to check on the mother-to-be. She sat, very alert and incessantly patient, through sunny days as well as a few stormy ones. Then one day I saw her standing astride the nest, tending to three tiny beaks. When I opened the window, mama robin flitted about anxiously, squawking, so I closed it. She flew away and back, feeding the always-eager beaks. Or she sat on the nest, occasionally patting down a too-boisterous chick during nap time. She was such a good mother.

So, I was a bit shocked a few days ago, when my husband and I walked outside, looked up, and found (saw?) two of the babies balancing -- what looked to me precariously -- on the pipe.

My husband chuckled at my overprotective-motherly warnings to the chicks. “Get back in the nest. Wait for your mother! It's too cold and windy to try your wings today.” When I checked later, I was relieved to see the three chubby chicks crammed together in the nest.

Then this morning, one lonely baby bird stood on the edge of the vacant nest, fanning his wings. From my side of the glass I urged him to take his time; I told him to resist feeling pressured to keep up with his feathered siblings; I suggested he stay to enjoy having the nest and mom and her meal deliveries all to himself for a while.

But time is not the only thing that flies. They grew up too fast. The mama was nowhere to be seen, no moping around or cleaning up after her babies. With the fledglings big and strong enough to fly off, her job was done.

I opened the window, smelled the lilacs below, and sent my goodbyes out to my feathered friends. Be safe, little robins, I said. Stay out of the street and away from the cats. Come back and visit sometime.

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