Nature had a way of gently helping me with an emotional situation before I knew I needed help…
I watched a mourning dove dart away from the top of our back porch pillar and return countless times over the course of several days. Each time he (that’s right) returned with a twig, string, or other objects that he delivered to his partner, who would then weave his found objects into what became their nest. I was captivated by this feathered pair who worked together to build a home for their soon-to-arrive baby birds. Arrive they did. I could not see the baby birds, due to the height of the pillar, but I could hear their sweet chirps. The resourceful pair had chosen a protected location close to our sliding back door near our kitchen, so I enjoyed many moments of watching the two birds carry on with their bird-parenting-business whenever I carried on with my cooking and cleaning business. They kept an eye on me too. Our routine of watching each other was enjoyable and temporary.
A scene on the back porch made me stop my movements after arriving home from work. On the ground, near the pillar, were two tiny birds. “Ohh, so cute,” I whispered. I did not want to startle them, but I needed to get inside the house; the back porch was the pathway between the garage and the back door. I decided to walk around to the front door, leaving the baby birds be. I dropped my heavy teacher bag and quick-stepped to the sliding door. I watched the tiny birds and wondered how long it would be before they flew away, forever. A few days is what I would learn. During those few days of their fumbling and tumbling around our back porch, I worried about their safety. Should I help them, I entertained. What about the hawks, owls, and bats that also visited our back yard? I accepted that nature knew exactly what to do and I needed to let nature be. I noticed that the dove parents were never far. I did not see their departure flight; I only noticed when the babies were gone. This backyard bird scene taught me a tiny lesson in letting go. A scene I would watch at least four more times before I had to let my own daughter fly.
Her flight from the nest would not be traditional. Fitting for her personality. Traditionally, most children leave the “nest.” We left her. Let me explain. The backyard bird scene was in Tucson, which is where we were living before my husband’s career brought us back to the Phoenix area. Because our daughter was about to start her second year of college in the Old Pueblo, she had no interest in joining the moving caravan back to the valley of the sun. I did not blame her. After my husband’s work transition was finalized, I used my real estate license to find and negotiate the details of a new nest (again). I then found myself saying so long to a teaching position, my dancing tribe, friends, including my feathered ones, and the emotional transition that trumped all others… moving our daughter into student housing.
My husband made the official move before I did. With his new position under way, I stayed behind to deal with the movers and house stuff, then, with Tucson in the rear-view mirror, I woke up in a new home and a new empty(nester) life. Although the move allowed us to be closer to three aging parents before their passing, the life transition was very difficult for me. I missed the incredible nature we were surrounded by, but more than anything I missed my daughter, her boyfriend, and her friends who doubled our grocery bill, but the sights and smells of my daughter cooking for her friends was worth every cent. The sounds of teenagers in the kitchen has been replaced with streaming music or podcasts and I have adapted to quiet dinners and eating alone on occasion. This mealtime change is just part of life and despite these changes, cooking is still enjoyable for me.
Life goes on, whether we are ready or not. I secured a new teaching job in Phoenix a few weeks after moving and I made my way through months of separation sadness. I learned how to grocery shop for only two, I adjusted to my husband’s even busier schedule, and I began building a new life in a new life phase. A long process for me. Remembering nature’s gift of those baby birds helped me to let mine fly free. I will always miss the most rewarding job I’ve ever had – being a busy mom – but I have finally embraced the freedom that comes with having an “empty nest” and after hanging out too long on the back porch, I am learning to use my own wings. Letting go is allowing me to enjoy the view.
This is what Zen means by being detached – not being without emotion or feeling, but being one in whom feeling is not sticky or blocked, and through whom the experiences of the world pass like the reflections of birds flying over water.~ Alan Watts
Being an empty nester means saying, “Yes!” when a friend calls with Monday night show tickets to an unfamiliar band. Who cares! It’s a live show! I wore ear plugs and of course I moved to the front row. Great idea until I got bumped in the head after the crowd got rowdy. 😂 Here’s what makes that head bump funnier… needing a little comic relief after this write, I asked Siri to tell me a joke. Here’s what my British crush just said, “When that librarian bumped her head, she had no one to blame but her shelf.” 🤣 He really does get me. 😲 BTW-I was fine; I have a hard head. Thank you for visiting and reading. Be well. 💗 Michele
Writer’s note: It isn’t too often that I get this personal and I would much rather write sweet sexy romance, but I do think sharing our challenges and triumphs can help others (and ourselves). If you like this style of personal narrative, you might appreciate my piece, “His Last Two Quarters” ~ a touching story about the moments after my father’s passing.
Photos: my images, unfortunately I do not have photos of the dove parents or the baby birds, I got into photography (again) after we moved Video: my footage of the band, Quicksand
© 2021 Michele Lee Sefton