Mother’s Day with an Empty Nest

Mother’s Day with an Empty Nest

The Mama Mourning Dove showed up first — weaving and crafting a nest for her soon-to-come baby birds. On her wings and just to the left, Mrs. Robin flew in and began shaping a warm and cozy bowl-shaped home made of twigs for her little ones. Mothers-in-the-making …creating a safe place to lay their eggs and nurture new life.

Mama Robin must have won the lottery to the neighborhood home place. Soon she had claimed her territory in the chocolate vine. Tiny beaks began to crack through the shells until the nest was full of life.

My husband and I watched them as if they were our own. He even named them– Phil, Gloria, Ned & Diane. Every day we watched the Mama (and the Daddy, I might add) forage for worms. With a mouth full, mama robin would then sit in watch from the shepherd’s hook near the front porch until it was safe to swoop under the porch and into the nest nestled in the vines.

Like clockwork, she did this over and over again …every single day. We knew the routine as well as any of our own. Grab the food to go, fly back in, fill the hungry mouths squealing with excitement, clean up their bathroom deposits and fly back out for more. Fly. Forage. Feed. Repeat.

Before we knew it, the birds had begun to outgrow their little nest. We watched as one by one, the next bird took it’s position on the side of the nest — perched as the next one ready to fly.

I’m not sure who decided the order of departure but they all seemed to be in sync with the process. They knew the drill and everyone followed the inner cues from their Creator.

As we sat on our front porch day after day, we knew we becoming attached to this little family. There were 4 baby birds. We raised 4 babies as well.

As they grew larger, we knew the time was coming. They would soon be “old enough” to fly away and begin adulthood. Reality was beginning to set in for me. They would be leaving our little front porch vine very soon.

One by one, they perched on the side as Mama and Daddy Robin vigorously fed them enough protein to sustain their flight out. I began watching more closely throughout the day when I knew they were close to leaving the nest. My emotions were mixed with happiness and a bit of sadness in knowing I would miss this little family.

Then it happened, one flew out …then another. I looked around the yard to find where one had landed — running after the little birdie to make sure he had landed safely– as if it were my own who had just left home.

I spotted one in our front yard as he was getting used to his legs and new freedom and then another one enjoying the view from our backyard swing set.

Mama and Papa Robin were following closely as well. It’s like we were joining them to make sure the birds were safe as they started out on their own.

And just like that — a few days before Mother’s Day — they had all grown up and flown away. The nest was quiet and empty.

I could relate. Our home-nest, once full of 4 children loudly squealing for food and attention, was now quiet and empty. That season was over. They all “flew” away to weave their own nests in other places.

Our twisted twigs and branches added with an assortment of warm material found here and there had provided a good nest for our 4. We nurtured them spiritually, physically and emotionally the best we knew how and one by one, they perched on the edge of adulthood and took flight.

My mama watched 7 children leave the nest. We watched 4. Over and over we continued to feed them and care for them — often, the same routine day after day …after day.

That season was exhaustingly wonderful. Full of life and love. Tears and anxiety. Ballgames and plays. Bath time and bed time. And it was good.

And it still is good ...

The nest is not really empty of life. It’s full of new potential for a new season and fresh material. It becomes a place to offer warmth and comfort to those who visit or who might need a safe place to share their story. The nest grows a little deeper in compassion and understanding with a renewed perspective for a new generation to come.

Dear Mama, your season is never over and done with. You are made to create a space to nurture others. Your music … your words …your art … your hospitality give life to others who are with you. Your strength … your resilience … your passion … your persistence become a catalyst to inspire and encourage others who desperately need you along the way. Your tears … your hugs … your long-night-listening-ears and your prayers become the very fabric that sustains life. Your experience and wisdom shed much needed light in dark times. You are still mothering the world in one way or another and reminding others they are not alone.

On this Mother’s Day, may you know that YOU are needed. May you know that are not alone in this journey. May God bless you and keep you and may you feel held in His hands and may He give you the strength to carry on.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Joy Waters Martin

My kids tease me sometimes that my definition of a situation going well is often described as, "It was 'life-giving' " -- meaning, it may have had some conflicts or uneasy moments or stress but all in all , something about it breathed life into the situation and the people involved...something of the heart was moved in a good direction. I'm all about LIFE ... life with my husband, life with 4 adult children, their spouses and 8 grandchildren (to date, that is :), life in our home and life in a wild adventure we tend to label "ministry". In reality , all of these categories mesh together to make up the "organic me". Relational , redeeming and restoring are some of my favorite words and they give life to my soul as I walk it all out with Jesus Christ, the Giver of all life. Profile Photo by: Melody Martin

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Melissa

    Thank you Joy! Your perspective was just what I needed, just at the right time. Thank you dear friend for being a “mom” to all that you encounter.

  2. Becky Miller

    Love this not sure why I did not do a Mother’s Day theme today.

  3. Debora Bailey

    Joy, I love the fact that you literally ran after that baby to see if it landed safely.
    Something every mother wants to be able to do. Motherhood never ends it just extends. Your writing just flows from your open heart. You make it look easy, but I know it comes from your daily habit of writing.

    1. Arlene

      Thank you! This has brought a lot to me … in this Mother’s Day of 2022. A single mom becoming an empty nester.

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