Are You My Mother?

The invasion of the teen years brings out the complexity of parenthood.

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Photo credit: Amanda Ambrose Photography

The birds flew the nest today.

I’ve watched them for weeks. First a pair of small gray doves, then joined by impossibly tiny shell-colored nestlings, making their home in our chimneya Discovery Channel show just for me, right outside my kitchen window. These days where everything feels so virtual and automated, I’ve taken to appreciate the most simple of unchanging things– to remind me that nature still exists and will always keep its course. You still need to watch for the tides. The birds will always return.

The call of a mourning dove will forever take me back to when my son was young. His curiosity engaged; he knew all the sounds. Doves, robins, hawks, and finches. ‘Are You My Mother’ was his favorite book to have me read. He’d laugh and laugh considering the baby bird confused by a tractor, or a cow. He’d hang on to my words, my actions, my being.

Now, he’s turning thirteen. The invasion of teen years makes the ease of laughter feel distant, and curiosity and simplicity of things are temporarily out of order. My words and my being, a story no longer wanting to be heard.

Each year the birds return. They seem to nest where we can watch and be reminded of both the ease and complexity of parenthood. A reminder of how a mother knowingly provides for her unborn and then live and active children. The love and care as the parents work together to make all things safe for their offspring.

I watch each day as they nest, and wait, and protect.

They wake, they feed, they love, they teach.

Every year I’m surprised, anew, at how suddenly they have grown, and gone.

This, the beginning of my son’s teen years, is the first time I can feel the emptying nest. It is confusing, unsettling, and scary.

We still wake, and feed, and love, and teach– but he’s also ready to fly.

Photo credit: Amanda Ambrose Photography

In my mind, I know that that this is what we were born to do. This is how you steer the course. This is nature’s way.

In my heart, I want to build a bigger nestand keep him here forever.

I know it won’t be this year, or likely the next, but it is my sincerest hope that some day soon, my baby bird will return. That he’ll laugh, and laugh with me again, that he’ll hear my words, and appreciate my being, and that he’ll have his own great stories to tell.

And through it all, I hope he’ll always carry in his heart, that I am and always will be…His Mother.

Photo Credit: Amanda Ambrose Photography

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