Baby Daddy

Beep, beep, beep.

My phone chirped the arrival of a new text.

The sender had big news to share.

He’d just learned he was going to be a daddy.

Stunned. Scared. Excited. Dumbstruck. Unbelieving. Lost. Determined.

All of these (and more) described the young man who shared his news with us.

With all the uncertainty swirling within his head, he had the clarity to know the type of daddy he did not want to be.

And, he had the good sense to know that he needed to start now to make the changes necessary that would put him on the right path to being the Daddy this little baby will need the next 18…28…38…58 years of his/her life.

You know…when you find out you’re going to be a Daddy, it changes everything. You see that it’s not about you anymore, it’s about someone else. And, it’s about doing whatever it takes to make sure that someone else has what they need – and to make sure you’re there for them. I’ve gotta get a job – I’ve got a lot to do to have things ready when our baby is born.  And, you know something else I’ve learned? Pregnant women are ALWAYS right.  I don’t care what she wants or what she says – I get it or I do it.  It’s just a lot easier that way.

Wise young man. He’s already figured out some very important things.

Bless this young man, Father, and grow him in the direction he needs to grow for this baby, this new life that is facing him.  Enable him to mature quickly. Strengthen him to do the right thing even when it’s the hard thing. Give him love and patience. Help him to be the best Baby Daddy he can be.  And, bless the young mother-to-be with health and an easy pregnancy. Protect the baby and weave her/his body together perfectly and completely. Thank you, Lord, for children, for grandchildren, for nephews and nieces and for great nieces and nephews.

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Freaked Out Fledglings

For several days we watched the two fledglings fidget in their nest.

The last brood, hatched in the nest on our front porch, consisted of 4 Robins.  This one? Only 2.

The mother Robin was easy to pick out when she was off the nest – she had what appeared to be a feather crest on the top of her head…or a Mohawk, and stood out from the others that hunted bugs and worms in our front yard.

I remember the day I first noticed her on the nest – and the day she settled onto the nest to incubate her eggs. It’s hard to believe that was a month ago.  She had rebuilt a nest used late this Spring.

Her eggs hatched a few days later than I anticipated and assumed it had something to do with the hot dry weather we’d had. They hatched with the first rains.

Mother and Father birds fed the babies.  With only two hungry mouths in the nest, the babies ate twice as much as the brood before and grew quickly – surprisingly fast.

I noticed the father stopped dropping by the nest late last week.  And, the mother’s visits became more sporadic – sometimes with food for them…sometimes not.  Sometimes she dropped by as if to see if the baby birds were still there, or to inquire as to why they had not yet taken wing.

Last Friday night, the baby birds spent the night in the nest alone.  That probably wasn’t their first night alone, but it was the first I noted.  Saturday, I did not see Momma bird at the nest at all.

The fledgling birds grew restless as the sun climbed higher and the day grew warmer.  Easily startled, they jumped at the slightest noise.

Hubby had been cutting grass in the front yard and paused to rest on the step of the porch, just below the nest.  When he rose to stand, the little birds freaked and with great squawking and flapping of wings they fluttered from the nest into the center of the front yard.

I was not here to witness it, but he shared his surprise and felt sorry that he had frightened the little birds out of the safety of their nest.

In truth, the nest was no longer a safe place for them.  They were exposed to the eyes of hawks and Blue Jays…Mom was no longer there to protect them.  And, she had stopped bringing them food.  Her job was done.  It was time for the nest to be abandoned.  The baby birds were ready to fly away from the nest she had prepared for them.

They were on their own.

As realization set in, the little birds became jumpy, unsure, afraid.  And, it was that flightiness that prompted them to allow instinct to drive them from the nest and take flight on the air their wings were created to beat.

It’s been 6 days since we last saw the baby birds. The last one to set eyes on them was Hubby – and that was as they touched down in the grass.

I can’t help but wonder – if the momma bird continued to feed and protect her babies, would they ever leave the nest apart from being pushed out by siblings or tumbling from the edge?  The nest, built with twigs, is intended for temporary use only.

I also can’t help but wonder if we do our own children a disservice by encouraging them to become safe and secure in the home we’ve made for them.  Children are born to grow up, to move out, to embrace their own lives.  Like baby birds, they should take flight.  We humans should look to our bird friends for instruction in raising our young.  The secure nest is temporarily built, the care and provision lasts only as long as they are unable to secure it for themselves. As the young grown, the nest becomes smaller, more uncomfortable…less a fit for them and less fit as well.

Now, I’m sure that when the little birds (that weren’t so little any more) fluttered from the nest Momma Robin was nearby watching.  And, I’m sure she answered their calls and guided them to safety.  She didn’t fly off and leave them without hope or direction.  Birds have better sense than that.  Her goal was independence for her babies.

I wonder…what is our goal for our babies?  And, what steps are we taking from the moment they are born to prepare them and ourselves for the fulfillment of that goal?

Drowning Before Your Eyes

Last night, while scrolling through my Facebook page, I came across a shared link from Slate.com: Rescuing drowning children: How to know when someone is in trouble – Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning.

The shared link backtracked to Mario Vittone’s 2010 post Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning.  I checked Mario’s About page and selected one descriptive line from among the 20 or so available.

Mario is a leading expert on immersion hypothermia, drowning, sea survival, and safety at sea.

Yeah…he’s qualified to write a piece on drowning.

Clicking on Facebook links is not something I practice on a regular basis, but the title interested me.

You see, I have a new granddaughter.  Her Mommy and Daddy have a pool in their backyard and that means Sophia will play in it.

And, that means there is a possibility that Sophia could drown. (I know – kids can drown in the bathtub, in a bucket of water, at the beach….)

I’ve seen and experienced how quickly children can get into trouble while in the water.  It only takes a few seconds.  And, it can happen before your eyes…as you watch…without you realizing what’s happening.

Mario’s piece on drowning begins with the story of a captain who sees a little girl who is drowning. Her parents, in the water also, are only 10 feet away from her but have no idea the girl is moments away from slipping beneath the water. (After reading his About page, I wonder if he is the captain.)

As I read his words, I wondered how her parents could be so close and yet not realize what was happening.  In his next paragraph, Mario shared why her parents didn’t know…didn’t recognize she was drowning.

I’ll admit.  It sent a chill through me.

It’s important information – I don’t want you to miss it because you don’t have time to click to his link.  Here it is:

The Instinctive Drowning Response – so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. And it does not look like most people expect. There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening (source: CDC). Drowning does not look like drowning – Dr. Pia, in an article in the Coast Guard’s On Scene Magazine, described the instinctive drowning response like this:[Source for what follows: On Scene Magazine: Fall 2006 (page 14)]

  1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.
  2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
  4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.

A drowning person cannot tell us they are in trouble.

Believe me – I know.  My own dad pulled me up and out of the water when I was young.  And, I grabbed my own son by the only thing sticking above the water’s surface…the hair of his head…and pulled him out.

Mario goes on to say that people who are able to yell for help and are thrashing around are experiencing aquatic distress. And, unlike true drowning victims, those experiencing aquatic distress can still assist in their own rescue by grabbing lifelines, throw rings, etc. (This is what we see most often depicted on TV and in movies.) But, we need to understand that aquatic distress doesn’t last long.  And, we need to know that this is not always present before the instinctive drowning response kicks in.

Mario offers other signs of drowning to look for when children, teens and adults are in the water:

  • Head bobbing low in the water, with mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes – no attempt to remove it
  • Not using legs – Vertical in the water
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder.

So, what’s important to remember?  If everything looks OK, don’t be too sure. They may be drowning and not look like it. To make sure, ask them “Are you okay?” If they can answer, they probably are. If they can’t, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them.

Never leave children alone in the water.

Parents/Caregivers – Children + water = NOISE. When they get quiet you need to find out why.

Robin Account

April 22 – Sunday – Warm – Eggs are in the nest, how many remains to be seen.  Momma bird sits and flies off to eat, returning to sit again.  She repeats this throughout daylight hours.

April 23 – Monday – Warm – Momma bird off and on nest.

April 24 – Tuesday – Warm upper 70’s – Momma bird off and on the nest, never leaving it more than a few minutes.

April 24 – Wednesday – Rain – Momma bird does not leave the nest from what I could tell.

April 25 – Thursday morning – Momma bird on the nest – cold early.  Temp warmed to mid 60’s late afternoon and I noted both birds foraging for food and eating all they found.  momma bird was on the nest fat and satisfied before dark.

April 26 – Friday a.m. – cool. 6:30 a.m. Momma bird on the nest.  11 a.m. Momma bird off the nest foraging for food.  Papa bird in the tree watching me and the nest. 4 pm both birds searching for food. dark – momma bird on the nest

April 27 – Saturday a.m. – cool rain.  6:30 both birds on the nest attend baby or babies – feeding or cleaning or something.  Action one of the birds took appeared to be “pecking” into the next and I assume it was feeding babies.  9:30 a.m. both birds hunting food in the rain, walking the yard with eye turned toward the grass looking for worms/bugs.

April 30 – Monday – 82 degrees with bright sunshine. Daughter reported seeing 3 baby birds as one of the adults fed them. Didn’t see either bird on the nest during daylight hours.  My guess is feeding the babies is a full time job now for both adults.

May 1 – Tuesday – Both birds are active in caring for babies.  2 pm both adults were on the nest feeding them.

May 2 – Wednesday – 6:45 a.m. One bird was on the nest, then the other flew up and joined him/her. The one that had been sitting on the babies, flew off down to the edge of the road where two doves were pecking around.  The one that arrived fed the babies and then gently wiggled and settled down on them. This one has a big patch of white behind its legs and appears larger than the other.

May 6 – Monday – 6:45 a.m. – Momma bird fed in our front yard and then flew across the street to a tall tree 100 feet or so from our house.  I assume she has a new nest.  She and hubby were “fighting” a few days ago and I’m certain the squabbling I saw was more of a mating dance.  Babies fill the nest – four heads and beaks stick up above the edge of the nest.  I wonder how they can move they are so tightly packed within it.

May 7 – Tuesday – 8 a.m. – Poppa bird is busy hunting for worms and bugs. Momma helps some, but not often.  Baby birds no longer have just gray fuzz and beginnings of flight wings that they had Sunday morning.  Their feathers look more adult.  The babies have grown so large that they can no longer all four sit crammed together within the nest. Two have moved more to the “top” of the bunch and sit somewhat atop the other two.  I wonder how they keep from falling out.  Their movement seems jerky and uncoordinated.  I worry that they will tumble out of the nest too early.  Hubby cut the grass late in the day.  I counted babies to make sure there wasn’t one on the ground.  Do Robin babies do like Mockingbirds?  Do they drop from the nest before they can fly?  Do they screech from the ground for the parents to find and feed them?  If they do, how will we keep from stepping on them?

May 8 – Wednesday – 6:45 a.m.  I had to look twice to make sure what I was seeing were baby birds and not two adult birds.  It’s amazing how quickly the babies are growing now.  Two birds are quite evident as they perch near the edge of the nest.  They are almost the size of their parents.  And, the feathers on their chest have developed a slight rust hue.  It must be exhausting for the dad to continue to feed and satisfy the appetites of these babies.  Four huge baby Robins.  I hope they all live to have babies of their own.

May 9 – Thursday – And, then there were three.  The fourth baby was no where to be seen today.  I’m unsure if he disappeared today or sometime yesterday. Hubby cut grass yesterday evening and I wondered about the babies then. And, hoped they were all safely in their nest.  Not far from the nest is a large clump of Peonies.  Perhaps the little one has taken shelter there.  Wherever it is, the parents are not feeding it – at least I’ve not seen them do so.  They (yes, both) go only to the nest with worms and I’ve not heard a baby bird crying for attention.  In fact, I’ve heard NO noise from the baby birds at all.  Apparently they are not like Mockingbirds who tumble from their nests and run about on scrawny legs and squawk and complain until a parent finds and feeds them.

May 10 – Friday – 6:45 a.m. The three in the nest are huge. Their rusty red breasts are very evident as they sit upon the nest.  Tail feathers are only nubs, but they are growing.  More like adult robins they appear this morning.  I watched both parents feed the birds within minutes of each other and return to hunt for more worms.  Rain is falling today with storms forecast.  I wonder how the remaining three will fare when the wind picks up and the rain blows against them.  There’s no way to hunker down and ride it out now.  I don’t see how the three robins are able to remain in the nest.  Before the day’s end, one will probably tumble out.  I read that only 1 out of 4 baby Robins make it to maturity and raise babies of their own.  That means of the 4 I have watched grow, only 1 will live to be 1 year old.  10:00 a.m. – two babies remain in the nest.  One of them perches on the edge of the nest, awaiting the return of the parents, stretching and fluttering it’s little wings.  Its tail feathers look like they’ve grown a half an inch since earlier this morning.  I look around for the two missing and don’t see them.  1 pm – one baby and only one remains in the nest.  I watched off and on for an hour and a half and didn’t see either parent arrive with food.  The baby watched, too.  Hungry and eager to eat.  His/her movement was erratic and jerky – but it exercised its wings, stretching and fluttering, then preened it’s feathers and settled in for a nap as it tucked its head under its wing. I had not noticed any noise from the babies at all until this bird was alone.  And, I noticed he/she would utter a harsh “CHURP” from time to time as if calling to parents. At times it teetered on the edge of the nest and I held my breath afraid it would topple out.  I left the house about 3.  Daughter sent a text at 3:45 to say the final bird left the nest as she was entering the house.  It fluttered from the nest and into the window, bounced off and fluttered to the ground. It appeared to be okay.  One of the adults flew down and landed beside it and led the baby away.  She captured video of two of the babies.  4:30  pm – Hubby and I headed out to walk and we saw one of the baby robins hop onto the bumper of Daughter’s car.  His/her chest was rusty red with spots and splotches on it.  Legs were long and scrawny – “bird legs” and he seemed lost.  Daughter said that when the last bird left the nest he had seemed confused and afraid to do so but either fell or launched himself and once on the ground looked up toward the nest as if to say, “Oh no!  What do I do?  Why did I do that??”  At least one of the parents was attentive to the two babies we saw – feeding and watching.  And, from time to time, we would hear the harsh “CHURP” of a baby Robin.

May 11 – Saturday – 6:45 a.m. – Daughter saw two baby birds in our side yard, just beyond the fence that separates the front from side yard, only feet from where she videoed them yesterday.  I saw two robins in the front yard searching for worms.  Apparently they continue to care for them fora while after they leave the nest, but when it was time for them to leave, the parents stopped feeding them unless they were OUT of the nest.  Interesting.

May 12 – Sunday – Throughout the day Daughter noted 2 of the baby birds – no longer looking so much like babies. Tail feathers, now long, bobbed along behind them as they hopped. Wings had grown long enough and strong enough to support them in flight.  No longer able to perch low to the ground, they are now able to seek shelter in the trees.  Parents still tend to them and remain close, feeding them occasionally. But, for the most part, Juniors are on their own. Daughter wondered about the other two…what happened to them.  I’ve wondered, too.  Daughter-in-love is awaiting the birth of her daughter.  We are on baby watch.  The doctor said it could be any day now.  Baby birds have left the nest.  It’s time for Grandbaby #1 to leave hers. 🙂

Mother’s Day 2013

With Mother’s Day approaching, Mom’s thoughts turned to her own mother.

It was decided that on Thursday morning we would visit her grave and place new flowers on it.

When I arrived to pick her up that morning, she met me at the door with a white garbage bag in hand. Within the garbage bag she had placed:

  • pink artificial flowers
  • a roll of paper towels
  • a damp cloth sealed in a ziploc bag
  • a sharp knife – its blade wrapped in a paper towel
  • light green floral styrofoam block

As I placed the garbage bag in the back seat of the car, Mom instructed me, “Look under the front passenger’s seat and see if the little whisk broom is still there.”  I did.  It was.

The drive to the cemetery took 10 minutes at most. I talked, reminiscing as I drove, of things I remembered, from my childhood, of past trips through that part of town (only frequented when we visited Poppy’s grave).  Mom corrected, added to, or confirmed my memories.

I wondered how she would react to visiting Nanny’s grave.  She was almost 100 when she died several years ago.   They had been close.  Mom had never lived farther than a 15 minute drive from her mother – probably 5 miles, or less, as the crow flies. In her later years, Mom visited her every day – caring for her needs and making sure she was okay.

Both of my grandfathers died when I was six. The care of my grandmothers fell to my parents, especially in their later years when they lost their independence and ability to care for themselves. Nanny and MeeMaw were always a part of my childhood family, especially on Sundays. MeeMaw would drive to our house and ride to church with us.  We would stop on the way and pick up Nanny.  Our car would be full of people, conversation, and love as we drove to church. After church, we all would go home for Sunday dinner and enjoy the afternoon together. MeeMaw would head home, usually before we left for the evening service.  Nanny would either accompany us, or we would drop her off at home on our way to church Sunday evening.

Mom’s thoughts were on her mother.  Mine were on my grandmother – and my mother.  And, on my father, who died last Father’s Day.  I’ll admit, I looked forward a month to what it will be like to celebrate my first Father’s Day without him here.  I wondered what Mom was feeling…thinking.

I turned right and we entered the cemetery.  At the first crossroad I asked, “Left?” Mom nodded.

It had been 9 months or more since I had last been to her grave.  The last time, I rode in the backseat as my dad drove us.  Daughter and I had spent a week with my parents in the Fall and we had visited Nanny/Poppy’s grave and MeeMaw/PeePaw’s grave to place Autumn flowers on them. I knew from childhood, that to reach Poppy’s grave, I needed to bear left at every opportunity.

We talked little as I drove past graves.  She pointed out changes and additions, noting where people she had known were buried and that she had never ventured into the older part of the cemetery.

Left, left, left, left…always left until we could go left no more.  I pulled the car onto the shoulder of the road in the spot that felt “right.” To my left there was a field with grass and a border of trees. Ahead of us, the road stretched straight.  To my right, graves stretched as far as I could see, evident only by the vases standing above the flat bronze grave markers.

“Do you remember which one it is?” I asked Mom.  She was silent for a moment.  Her eyesight is not good. Nanny’s and Poppy’s grave sits 75 feet or more from the road. As she gazed out the window, I closed my eyes and saw in my childhood memories the location of the grave site. (Brother and I had played there many times while awaiting the completion of the adults’ graveside work.) When I opened them, it was as if I had placed an overlay of my memory on the image before me – the grave stood out as though highlighted.

“Are you ready?” I asked Mom.  She seemed hesitant…lost in thought.  “I’m not sure which one it is, but I’m sure this is the right place.”

“It is,” I assured her.  “Come on, we will find it – no problem.”

By the time I made it around to her door, she had it open and she was giving orders. (Mothers, don’t you just love ’em?!?)

“Get that white trash bag out of the back seat and look under my seat and get that little whisk broom out.  We will need it to sweep off the marker. Be careful, there’s a sharp knife in the bag. We might need it to cut grass from around the marker. Here, let me take your hand. Let’s see…which marker is it…?”

I asked if she would like me to run ahead and locate the grave. She asked why I would want to do that and when I replied, “to save you a few steps”, she let me know in no uncertain terms that she was fully capable of wandering the cemetery if necessary and locating the marker on her own.”

With her hand in mine (or was it my hand in hers?) we tottered across uneven ground as I lead her toward the grave I felt certain was the one she sought.  When close enough to view the name on the flat marker, I pointed it out to her.  “You can see that from here?” she asked. Her reply to my, “Um, yes, Ma’am. You can’t?” was a stern glare that made me smile.  It was the same one she’d given me countless times over the past 55 years.

Within a few steps, she was upon the grave and stood looking down on the marker bearing the names of her parents…their birth and their death dates.

We fell silent.

I don’t know what thoughts held her captive or what memories flashed through her mind.  I don’t know if she felt regret, sorrow, longing…I just don’t know. It wasn’t my place to ask…or to know.  This was private – personal.  I stood there as long as I could bear it. Emotions flooded me as memories of my grandmothers flowed through my mind.  I was not around in their later years.  Life had called me 400 miles away and given me a family of my own.  I visited when I could. The last time I saw Nanny, she didn’t recognize me.  The last time I spoke with her on the phone, she didn’t know me – it frightened her that a stranger knew so much about her and her family.

When I could stand it no longer, I turned from Mom and walked back to the white garbage bag and began removing items we would need.  Mom (sensing my absence and the reason for it) said “The marker’s not dirty…a good sweeping with the whisk broom is all it needs. Be sure to pull the tags off of the flowers and put them in the garbage bag so they don’t litter the ground.”

We set about the task of cleaning the marker, removing the faded flowers, dumping water from the vase, trimming the floral styrofoam, inserting the flowers and arranging them.

When the task was done, we stepped back and fell silent once again.  Lost in thought and in emotion, we stood looking at the marker.  “Nanny would like the pink flowers,” I softly offered.  “Yes, she would,” was Mom’s reply.

“I miss her so much,” Mom said. “Sometimes at night when I say my prayer, I almost forget and pray for her.” Tears stung my eyes as I allowed emotion to well up within me – the strength of which surprised me. I choked it off before it consumed me.

I asked if she would like to linger.  She shook her head and said there was nothing more to be done there.

We talked quietly as we walked back to the car. My 85 year old white haired mother missed her mother…missed the mothering of her mother…missed the friendship of her mother…missed her mother’s prayers. As I held her hand – or she held mine – I knew that one day I would miss my mother and wondered how I would bear the pain and sorrow of it.

My sister-in-law faces her first Mother’s Day without her mother.  I cannot wrap my mind around the emotions she must feel.  A tear slips from my eye as I type this….

As a child, on Mother’s Day we wore red roses to church.  Dad would pick them from a big rose bush across the street from our house – I can see him now, dressed for church, crossing the street to pluck four small red roses for us all to wear.   My grandmothers wore white roses, not red.  I asked why and was told that children wore red roses in honor of mothers who were living, and white roses in memory of mothers who had died.

It was hard to think of my grandmothers as children.  They had been old forever as far as I knew. Their mothers long dead, I assumed they thought of them only at Mother’s Day when they placed the white rose in memory.

I knew Mother’s Day was difficult for many.  I have friends who wish to be mothers and cannot conceive. Mother’s Day is emotional for them…they have no one to celebrate them as Mother.  For some, Mother’s Day brings up bad memories of a less than perfect mother.  And, others lost their mother to death and still grieve.

Mother’s Day was always a happy day for me.  As a child, I loved my mother.  She was the absolute best in all ways. Mother’s Day was the perfect opportunity to show my love for her.  Even when I lived 400 miles away, I wore a red rose to celebrate her life and impact on my life.

This year is the first Mother’s Day I’ve spend with Mom in many years.  I don’t know how many more there will be. No one knows.  Last year, Father’s Day dawned with me at Dad’s bedside. No one thought that before noon he would take his last breath.

Mother’s Day is more than candy, cards, flowers and dinner out.  Happy Mother’s Day is more than a red rose pinned to a lapel. It’s an emotional basket filled with memories, hopes, dreams, tears, sorrow, laughter, pain, birth, loss, fear, happiness, love, longing….

From childhood, I’ve understood the reason for Mother’s Day and have celebrated my mom and the others who have mothered me. This year I find myself beginning to understand why many find it to be a difficult day and why some choose not to celebrate Mother’s Day at all.

To those of you who see me wearing a red rose, know that beneath that rose beats a heart that weeps for the loss you feel today.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!  And, to all the mother’s reading this – God bless you and thank you for all you do for those you love.

(P.S.)The words above were penned yesterday, in anticipation of posting today.  Between the time I wrote them and now (1:31 a.m. Sunday), my mother became ill and was admitted to the hospital for tests.  My family and I will take Mother’s Day dinner to her hospital room and spend the day celebrating her and her love for us.  It’s not quite the day we had planned, but she’s still with us and for that I am grateful!

And, yes, a red rose will be pinned to my shirt.  Be sure to look for it when you see me.

(P.P.S) 7:57 AM Sunday – received a call from the doctor at 6:30.  Mom had an episode during the night…is in ICU on a respirator.  Dr is unsure what is going on. Heading there now.

A Full Nest

As Daughter left for work, a Robin looked down on her from its perch in the nest on our porch.

And, then another did so.

At first I thought it was the Dad on the nest and then I realized what I was seeing were “baby” birds.

There are four.  And, they have grown so large that the nest appears to be coming apart from the weight and wiggles of the growing birds.

They look more adult than they do hatching.  Feathers are no longer gray downy fuzz.  Their beaks are long and full sized.  Their appetites are equal to their size – huge.  Four big babies crammed into the little twig nest.  Two of them have to sit on the edge, or on top of the others, to keep from falling out.

When will they leave the nest?  I don’t know – but it won’t be long.

I wonder if they will be like Mockingbirds and drop from the nest before they can fly, squawking to be fed and hiding under bushes – or if they will tumble out full grown and ready to stretch their wings and catch air beneath them.

As large as they are, there is no way they can remain much longer. The nest will come apart.  They will smother each other. They will topple out.

How will they know when it’s time to leave the nest? Will Poppa stop arriving with a tasty worm? Will the nest become too uncomfortable? Will siblings push each other out? Will they flap their wings and find something awakens within them that yearns for more than the nest can provide? Or, will it be the growth of tail feathers that push them from the nest?

I stop my wondering long enough to walk to the living room window and peek out at them.

Four little birds sitting in the nest.  All face East. Two sit “up front” and two in the back.  Dad arrives with a fat worm dangling from his beak and all four open their mouths hoping to receive it.  The one farthest from me and closest to Dad receives breakfast.  Dad flies away and all four mouths close.  The one nearest me slowly turns it’s head my way and looks me over, then turns back to watch for Dad’s return.

They won’t leave today. I doubt they will tomorrow. But, one morning I will look out and find the nest empty…the babies gone.

An empty nest.  That sounds like a sad thing.  But, really, when you think about it – it’s gloriously exciting!  An empty nest means things went right and according to plan.  Mom and Dad did their part and the babies grew up healthy, happy, and capable of living independent lives. And, one day will build nests of their own.

Robin’s Nest

From my front door I watch a Robin on her nest, 5 feet away.

She no longer flies off when the door is opened, or we walk past.

Wednesday morning the wind howled and rain fell, thunder clapped and lightning flashed.  She remained on the nest, securely tucked under the eave of the porch, in the crook of the gutter’s downspout – the nest wedged between it and the right pillar of the porch.

Wednesday night a frost warning was issued. As a precaution, I covered my tender houseplants that now reside on my front porch. I wished for a small blanket to place over the Robin to keep her cozy.

Thursday morning, at 6 a.m., the temperature dipped to 36 degrees. Frost covered the cars and rooftops.  On the nest, only inches from the porch roof, sat the Robin. I wondered how she fared in the cold.  As if in reply, she turned her head to look at me.

Building the nest and incubating the eggs is her job and she takes it seriously.  She rarely  leaves the nest now – only doing so when the day is late and the air has warmed. Yesterday, late afternoon, I saw her hopping around the yard with her mate, devouring insects and vigorously pulling worms from the ground.

When she returned to her nest she looked fat and satisfied.

Papa Robin’s work will begin in earnest when the eggs hatch.  His responsibilities will include feeding and caring for the hatchlings.

As I watch the Robin on her nest, I think of Daughter in Love and Son.  She is now on medical leave and settling in to await the birth of her daughter.  Son hovers, attentive and eager.

If all goes according to schedule our granddaughter will be born mid May – about the time the baby Robins are scheduled to fly from their nest.

Am I excited?  You betcha!

Because I Said So

One thing I greatly disliked as a child was for my mother to say “because I said so” when I asked her “why” I was to do what she said.

Things were going to be different when I had children.

I would follow a different rule – one that showed appreciation for their intellect, allowed challenging of boundaries, acknowledged their right to be heard and to understand the “whys.”

With my firstborn I explained “why.” Repeatedly.

And, my efforts were rewarded with “why?”  And, so, I explained further…more detail….

After all, he was intelligent. I was secure enough in my role as Mom to allow him to bump against boundaries with “why” even if it seemed he challenged me/my desires in doing so.

I understood the need to understand “why.” Sometimes even I didn’t understand all the “whys” involved.

Scroll forward a couple of years and my daughter walked among us.

She, too, intelligent child that she was, asked the immortal question, “why?” And, being the wonderfully modern mother that I was…I explained.

And, explained.  And, explained.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Now I had two “why-ers” and it took twice as long to accomplish anything that required their involvement – they both asked “why” and I explained “why” but my explanation was never to their satisfaction.

One day I’d heard “why” one time too many and I snapped, “BECAUSE I SAID SO!”

That answer needed no discussion – left no room for debate.

It drew a line in the sand and demanded a choice. And, the only acceptable choice was obedience.

It put me in the position of authority and any inquiry that contained “why” became an instant challenge to my authority.

I became my mother.

And, I realized why she said “because I said so” when I asked “why.”

Many of my “whys” WERE intended as challenges to her authority, to her will, to her way.

And, many of my children’s were as well.

My daughter recently reminded me of the day I wised up and screamed in exasperation: “BECAUSE I SAID SO!”  She also said she didn’t like that answer and always wanted to understand “why” but I never explained…my reason was always the same:

Because I said so.

My mother had another saying – I’ve yet to use it.  Thinking back, I wish I had.

“It’s my house and this is the way I want it. When you get your own house, you can do it any way you want.”

My mom = smart mom.

Why? Because I said so.