Feather Your Own Nest

At 6 am it was much too early for a phone call. Only someone with bad news would be on the other end. I bolted upright and grabbed the receiver.

“I haven’t slept all night,” my friend Pammy whispered. “They’re tearing down the cabin any minute and I need you to help me save a bird’s nest that’s tucked in the rafters. It’s bad luck, you know, to knock something down that bears new life inside of it.”

“Huh?” I said, wondering why someone more practical than superstitious would be fussing over such a thing. Reluctantly, I hopped out of bed, pulled on my sweats, and headed over to the piece of property she and her newly retired husband bought which included a ramshackle cabin that would cost more to restore than save.

As I pulled into her driveway, so did the bull dozer. With little or no time to spare, we rushed inside the cabin, grabbed a chair to stand on, reached for the nest, and found three baby birds chirping away as their panicked mother flew the coop. Removing the nest from its perch, we placed it outside on a tree branch far from the impending chaos and then stood back, as the bulldozer lifted it’s enormous fork and plunged it into the roof. Two more stabs and the cottage crumbled.

“The builder told us that the foundation would never hold a new structure,” Pammy explained, a touch of melancholy in her voice. “Without a good foundation I suppose nothing works. Still, we managed to salvage a few things, you know, to keep the history of the place alive—like this enamel table, some stones from the fireplace, and that wonderful old sink that Ted wants installed at his outdoor cook center. Otherwise, the place has outlived its usefulness.”

The word outlived coupled with random thoughts of the bird’s nest got me thinking. In trying to save the situation, my friend and I– mothering mothers that we are—didn’t think twice before jumping in to “save a nest,” forgetting in our haste that merely touching it would keep the mother from returning forever. Our coming to the rescue was unsolicited as it has been so many times for me when I have meddled in my grown children’s lives only to make matters worse instead of better.

Once again, I’ve received another lesson about the “nature” of things. It’s best that I stick to feathering my own nest.

10 thoughts on “Feather Your Own Nest

  1. I can see that you are an someone in this topic. I am beginning a website soon, and your subject matter will be very functional for me.. Thanks for all your help and wish you all the prosperity in your business.

  2. This is my second time i visit here. I found a lot of fascinating stuff in your pages especially it’s discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I assume I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! Keep up the good work.

  3. All I ever did was feather our nest. And for that, I will always be able to look at myself and my boys with honor and truth when I wake every morning…

  4. If it’s any consolation, your relocation of that nest would not have prevented the mother bird from returning. Rather, your thoughtful placement of the nest away from the impending wreckage of the cabin would’ve placed that Momma’s babies in a safer location from which she would hear their cries and return to them with food. What I’ve learned is that “Mothering” is a process — who’s born knowing how to do this? I continue to revise my thoughts on when it might be better to simply stand by and “listen” and allow my young people to form their own plans independent of my thoughts, and when to “offer” anything further……that’s apparently a work always in progress, I guess. On the other hand, before we provided our young with the proper tools and guidance that has allowed them to arrive at adulthood, they needed our assistance more, just as those little birds in that nest you so kindly helped your friend to relocate. We certainly do have much work to do in feathering our own nests, but it takes a village to raise a child, and sometimes we make the choice to “pitch in and help a neighbor”…..even if it is a bird. Just wanted you to know your avian rescue efforts wouldn’t have been all for nothing. Thanks for blogging, Joan! It’s been nearly two years since I attended your Second Journey Retreat in Chatham, and I think of it every day as I look at the beachfinds from that Retreat on my office desk and recall that wonderful expansion of myself…..Thank you!

  5. Perfect timing for this great reminder and message of wisdom! Today I returned from leaving my 1st born at college. This process of allowing my son the space he needs to make his own numerous choices about creating a new home for himself, without meddling, is a doosey. Where to guide and when to shut up? And, arriving home to see his childhood room still in the shambles of the move, with all the remnants of years of his own memorabilia, fills me with so many emotions. Yes, including fear of becoming outlived. But, as you say, Joan, living in fear is no good; so, after a good cry, this mama bird will be ready to re-do the nest; freshen it up and have some fun!

  6. Oh Joan…I too am guilty of being a “mothering mother”. God made us that way…wanting to protect, fix things and make them right for our children. We spend so much of our life doing this for them when they are young and growing up. Then we are thrown into the position of being expected to just stop what we’ve learned to do and back off allowing them to just be themselves. It is harder for some than others. I’m struggling with all of this since my two daughters have recently married. Everything has changed. Too bad there isn’t an instruction manuael on all of this!

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