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Category: Feminine Nature

Building Nests

April 29, 2024

I recently spent a few minutes procrastinating – or resting maybe? – by watching a video of birds building a nest in a birdhouse someone had set up with a camera inside. The birds flitted in and out and filled the little wooden box with fluff and straw and twigs to provide a place of safety and warmth for their eggs. Then, there was a shot of the bird leaving, and all of a sudden there were eggs nestled into their cozy little abode! I was left contemplating this few minutes of video that had been compiled to show what surely had taken weeks. Someone had created the cute little birdhouse, and had even taken the time to make the inside cute with a framed picture and a miniature bookshelf then set up the camera to be able to share with the world a perspective that is usually completely hidden from human view. Those parent birds had come together to build and prepare and create a place of safety and comfort for themselves and for their offspring. And then, the miracle of creating new life, in all of its vulnerability, growing inside the tiny eggs with hard but fragile shells, resting in that nest, was, simple, yes, but also glorious! It made my heart so happy to see the eggs there! 

I was disappointed that the video ended before the eggs hatched. I was left wondering, did they all hatch and survive? How long do they stay with their parents? Do they all leave at once? What happens to nests like these when the baby birds have grown and flown and parents migrate because of cold weather?

Maybe I am at a point in life where eggs and chicks and nests are conjuring up in my mind all sorts of metaphors because my youngest is preparing to leave our nest. As my older children left, he was there with me, and we have had moments of just the two of us that I never really had with his siblings. What does a mother bird do when her nest is empty? 

This all came much faster than I had expected. Just yesterday there were diapers to change and hands to hold and things to teach. We went through our ABCs and 123s and now he wants to talk about existentialism and spends time learning and creating piano pieces that leave me holding my breath in the hallway so I don’t disturb him as I stand in awe. 

I like to think that some of what my children have grown to be was because of the time I spent with them trying to teach them social values as well as textbook math facts, love along with language arts, and responsibility with kitchen science. I know that the person I have grown to be has a lot to do with the lessons I learned from them.

I am left with the same feelings I have had all along in this adventure called motherhood: the grief and the joy, the hope and the sorrow, the peace, gratitude, and anger and all of the messy emotions that are all rolled into this life; living as a family, growing together, creating life and home, and working toward futures we dream of but may also shy away from. Motherhood is always messy, because there is no one right way to do everything and we figure it out as we go. It feels like as soon as I was confident in one part, that part was past, and we were moving into new territory only to learn and create and try again.

Still, mothers carry on in that most sacred work of building character, guiding lives, loving through the highs and lows, twists and turns, being perfectly imperfect and creating the place where our children can rest in safety and security. My nest may soon be empty, but my heart will remain full and my arms will always be open. I will have opportunities to continue to influence and help my children and others around me. I am a mother, and I always will be.


What is your favorite part of your current stage of motherhood?


What advice would you give to your younger self?


Could your mother be replaced by other “careworkers”?


Would getting paid to mother make you value your work more?

Lead photo credit: Gary Yost via Unsplash