When birds fly home
Last year at this time, I was a bit apprehensive about saying good-bye to my youngest, and beginning our new journey of empty-nesting...of living together in the quiet spaces of this big, hollow home. Turns out, with all of our flitting about (i.e. traveling) and feathering our nest (i.e. decluttering and a little redecorating), I'm amazed at how quickly the year has passed. And now one of my little birdies has flown back home! My quiet, empty nest is buzzing again with the sounds of humming, piano playing, guitar strumming, laughter, and face-timing conversations with the boyfriend. There are now three of us at the dinner table. And there's someone to sing soprano along with my alto in church. It's nice to have Leah home, even if it's only for a little while.
She will be leaving again in two weeks for a "field trip" for her May term history class, followed by two months at her camp counselor job. But the night before she leaves, another fledgeling will flutter on home...Chloe will be returning from her first year of college! I'm sure she'll bring with her lots of chatter and an endless stream of friends excited to reunite after a school year apart. The nest will get a little noisier.
The crescendo will grow, as three more young ones swoop in for a weekend before for the month is over! Jared, Seth and Maddie will be joining us for our church campout and Memorial Day picnics and pastimes at home. Our young birds will be flying in and out over the summer, much like the actual winged creatures on our backyard feeder.
Like clockwork, every year on May 1st, we see our first rose-breasted grosbeaks stopping by the feeder. Lately, the orioles have been showing up then too, and we quickly get out the oranges and grape jelly (their favorites!). They join the cardinals, bluejays, finches, chickadees, nuthatches and woodpeckers. The feeder action is a little slow all winter long, but when spring comes--boom! it's like Portillo's on opening night! All of our feathered friends return, filling our backyard with chirping, singing, and activity galore!
And so it is with my own, who are returning this spring as well. Like our backyard friends, they come for food...for Mom's taco nights, spaghetti dinners, burgers on the grill, tortilla soup, and everyone's favorite...tuna noodle casserole! (I'm a bit embarrassed to say this is true!)
But they come for another kind of nourishment as well...for the love and support they know we will provide. We listen while they share what's been going on since we last spoke. Filling us in on their jobs, their schooling, their boyfriends or girlfriends. Asking us questions and seeking our advice. Making plans and dreaming dreams.
They also come to reconnect with their siblings and friends. They flit around the nest, upstairs and down, playing games, watching movies, making music, and laughing...always laughing. Squabbles happen occasionally too, but much less than when our nest was full of hatchlings, when they all lived together, all of the time. They've learned to value their time together, as have I. These bonding times are now few and far between.
My older offspring have found other, more permanent nests, so we don't see them as often, and they can't stay as long. The younger ones will be in and out for their summer jobs over the next three months before they go back to school in the fall. And just like my backyard feeder, things will grow quiet in our nest once again.
I have to admit, I've loved the freedom and peacefulness of our empty nest this past year! But, I will never complain when it starts to fill up again. I will never tire of the sound of the birds chirping in my backyard trees, nor of the sound of my loved ones filling our empty rooms with their joyful noises.
So fly on home, my little ones. Fill my nest with laughter, love and joy.