Mother’s day has rolled around again and for me, it’s my first as an empty-nester. As it turned out 25 strapping young Harvard men, the Ultimate Frisbee team my son plays on, have been at the house since Friday. I have never prepared so many beds, made so many meals, tended to so many little injuries or flitted around in this nest so happy to create a home away from home for this appreciative brood. They “delivered,” winning the tournament and earning a berth at Ultimate College Nationals in Boulder this month, (where all three of my kids will be playing!)
As I sat on the deck after the team rolled away, I got pulled into the cycle of life that beats all around me. An industrious robin had built her nest, with long grasses draping, on the top shelf of our potting shed a few weeks back. I was delighted by her serene blue eggs that appeared, holding at once so much responsibility and so much promise, in her open-aired, grassy veranda last week. And now, three little ones sit, mouths agape as they yearn for food, relying on mom for sustenance. It’s true that the fat worms she pulls from our vegetable garden have been gorging on a luscious stew from last year’s compost spread out across the rows in autumn. The worms come wriggling out of the earth reluctantly and struggle in the claw of that mama’s beak. But the babies wait, with seemingly disarticulated jaws stretched wide as the letter Y, for minutes on end, trusting mom will return with exactly what they need.
She does not disappoint, roundtrip after roundtrip, garden to nest, nest to garden, rifling though leaf compost and disintegrating cardboard that covers the plot, she flies back laden with gifts. And what does she get in return? The barely audible peep, the precious tufts of gray feathers, the bottomless gullets staring up at her, the assurance that soon they would be raised.
A bit quicker than us human mothers her annual endeavor, but I take heart from her dedication and persistence, on her following her instincts and protecting her brood. I take inspiration in the hard-working hours she toils away and just like I used to do sometimes at the end of a busy day watching and caring for kids, I relish when she falls back on her couch, cuddled up right next to her kids and collapses.
May we all feel good about what we’re doing these days, with or without kids around and may the cycle of life continue to wrap us up in it with delightful images and moments of serenity for a long, long time.
Dr. Amy Rothenberg
Naturopathic Health Care