Empty Nest

Empty Nest Syndrome can be a tough row to hoe for parents adjusting to children moving away from home

For the past week or so, I’ve noticed an increase in “nature babies” that have taken up residence in our yard. Just last week as I was practicing my asanas in the living room, I noticed a baby robin on our canopy who chirped as though his life depended on it. Mama Robin was directly nearby in our dogwood tree, her corresponding chirps sure and strong. Before too long, her little one took three hops and flew several feet to meet her in the branches.
That same morning, I was about to head outside when my husband stopped me with an unusually soft voice. He alerted me to the baby that fed silently on the clover patch by the driveway as her soft brown fur moved slightly on the warm summer breeze. After I managed to grab a few photos on my cell phone, the baby bunny hopped off as though drunk on clover and scurried under my neighbor’s front deck.

I continued to marvel over the sights of new life the following day, when Hubby and I ventured out to my car. We were headed to Starbucks drive-through at Broadway Commons for a refreshing Iced Caffé Americano coffee. Just as I was about to enter the vehicle, I noticed a small shadow by the front passenger tire. Sure enough, there was a tiny sparrow, mouth wide open, apparently awaiting a meal from Mama Bird, who was chirping in alarm nearby. I tried to move the baby sparrow away from the car, but he insisted on hopping directly underneath the vehicle. It took 10 minutes and a piece of driftwood, but Hubby and I managed to get the little guy off the cement and into the flower bed for safety.

When we returned from our trip to Starbucks, we noticed that the tiny bird had hopped into our front window well. We glanced at each other nervously, fearful that the mama wouldn’t be able to get to her offspring. We also have a few feral cats in the area, and we didn’t want to see the poor thing become the next best thing to Purina Cat Chow. I ventured closer to the window well, where the baby had moved closer to a bed of dried leaves. His plumage was a perfect camouflage. The next day, we saw him fly off to meet his mom on the roof of a neighbor’s home.

I mention babies in today’s column because it seems that whenever we need a bit of a pick-me-up in Life, the universe grants us a bit of a gift to get us through. You see, several weeks ago, my daughter decided that it was time for her to set out on her own to learn some excellent life lessons about finances, independence, cooking and shopping for something other than clothing. It was a bittersweet moment, because as she stood on the front lawn, bags packed, she looked like both a child and a woman at once. Truth be told, saying goodbye was the hardest thing I think I have ever done in my life. It was like ripping my heart out, stomping on it and then sticking it back in my chest.

Visits are both wonderful and awkward. Because of Coronavirus, we cannot hug as we normally did when she was living here. We’ve had a few chats in the yard, and we had a wonderful Father’s Day for my husband. We’ve gone mulberry picking in the neighborhood, which is a tradition we’ve carried on since she was a toddler in the stroller. My husband and I often refer to the odd feeling we experience as she drives off as sad and empty, but also hopeful with a little bit of relief. It’s tough to explain that strange feeling.

One of my friends offered a bit of sound advice when our girl first took her steps towards independence. She likened the experience to the baby bird who flies from the nest, free and happy. She also mentioned that it was important to stay focused in the present, because it was the only way to accept that our girl was an adult who needed to grow up.

Weeks later, I am continuing to grow in this situation. Sometimes, things need to happen for people to grow. It’s important for the baby bird, bunny, or child to leave the safety and security of the nest to test their own proverbial wings and begin to experience life on their own terms. It’s not easy to deal with an empty nest, but it’s doable. Hubby and I have found a bit more freedom and have shifted the focus from child to married couple. It’s like something was missing and we seem to have found it. We’re growing as well and it’s a good thing. “Family Time” may be different in the future, but it’s exciting to think about the changes on the horizon. Fly, baby bird, and may the wind always be beneath your beautiful wings. I love you, breeze. I’m always in the branches nearby, if ever you need me.

Patty Servidio is an Anton Media Group columnist.

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