Life as a mom who has her hands full
For the past few weeks, my children and I have had the pleasure of watching a Robin’s nest outside our back window. At first, the mother bird sat tentatively on her nest while we waited in anticipation for the eggs to hatch. Sure enough, early one morning, we saw the first little beak peak over the edge of then nest. Then we saw another one and another one—-3 baby birds in all ( just like our family). For weeks we watched as both the mommy and daddy bird brought an assortment of juicy worms to the hungry little mouths. Two of the birds were obviously more aggressive and growing by the minute. The littlest one, still remained half their size. But even though the others fought harder for their share of worms, the mommy and daddy bird always remembered to feed the little one, pushing the other two away if they had to. It was a fun sight to witness and one I will never forget!
Then it happened. The little birds grew strong enough to test their wings and fly and we woke up yesterday morning to find the nest empty. A little sadness crept over me. I had enjoyed watching them grow and I really wasn’t ready for their departure ( projecting a bit I’m sure). Then we noticed the smaller baby bird lying on the ground below the nest. He had broken his leg and his wing and was unable to fly. His parents hovered around him in nearby trees calling him to take flight, but he just sat their motionless, unable to move. The kids and I gathered around him and tried to give him water from a small medicine dropper, but it was no use. He was dying and I knew it. I sat there frozen, unable to figure out how to explain his dying to a 3 and 4 year old. What were the words to say? How would they respond? Would they understand? Aidan (my 4 year old) finally broke the silence.
” Mom, What’s wrong with him?” he wispered
“Well, Aidan, he tried to fly out of his nest and couldn’t…he hurt his leg and his wing and now he is dying” I said softly.
“Oh!” said Madeline. ” He’s not going to make it?”
“No”, I said and braced myself for the tears I was sure would follow.
“It’s okay mommy…. it happens,” she said surprisingly, ” but don’t be said because the other ones made it.”
I was amazed. At 3 years old, she understood what takes most adults a lifetime and years of therapy. Maybe we understand more than we think when we are young. Maybe we are all born with the ability to understand complicated concepts like life and death. Or maybe, the keys to the universe are simpler than we think and we only complicate things as we grow older. My children were not sad because the little bird died; instead, they chose to focus on something entirely different. They were happy…..because the other 2 flew.
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