My kitchen window faces our back yard. In the spring and summer I can look out my window and see all the Mommy birds gathering sticks and twigs, building their nests way up high, in the safety of our great big trees. It’s one of my favorite spring things to do! (Yep, that’s me…a bird peeper!)
One spring as I watched, I began to notice something pretty amazing. Mommy birds are just like us! (Obviously we don’t have wings…although sometimes we wish we did!) Example: When the mommy bird begins to prepare for motherhood she works hard to make her home as warm, comfortable, and inviting as possible! She is preparing her “nursery”. Once the nest is prepared, she sits on her eggs, day in and day out, rarely taking a break. When she does it’s a quick one. (Any Mommies out there have trouble finding a moment to use the potty? I thought so!)
When her babies are born she immediately starts looking for food to feed them. Rarely getting sleep. (Sounding a little more familiar?) The baby chicks quickly begin to grow and develop. Since she is a good mommy, she instills in them the things they need to know to one day make it on their own. Just as she begins to settle into her routine and has her chicks all in a row…it’s time to push them out of the nest, and into the great big world, to fend for themselves! BAM! Suddenly that “nest” she worked so hard to build, the one that was once so full of life, is now empty. There are no eggs to sit on, no babies to feed, or teach to fly. It is just her and her empty nest.
Two years ago, I was that Mommy bird standing in her empty nest wondering…”Where did 28 years go?” I won’t lie. It was one of the most painful, difficult, and depressing times of my life. I’m not going to sugar coat it! I wanted to stomp on the foot of every person that told me I would grow to love it! Please don’t get me wrong. I was thrilled my children were married and living productive, happy lives. It’s what we had been working towards and dreaming of for them. I just didn’t realize that while helping them obtain their dreams, I had buried mine in a chest somewhere and I couldn’t remember where it was? (I’m pretty sure it was in the back of the unfinished crafts closet!) I was so lost and empty! What to do now?
I think we all remember that first day with our new little “chick”. I know I remember my very first day home! Wowza! I was scared to death!! I had done a lot of babysitting as a teenager, plus I had younger brothers. I thought it would be a breeze. It really should’t have been that scary. Right? Wrong!
My baby was 6 weeks premature, I had to wake him up every 30 minutes to feed him 2 Tablespoons of milk in a teeny tiny bottle. I remember not showering for days! I was sleep deprived and frightened I would break him into a million little pieces! In the midst of all this…I was trying to figure out any semblance of a daily routine. I was a fish out of water. I was experiencing every emotion humanly possible…joy, happiness, fear, and… bucket loads of insecurity! All wrapped up into one gigantic ball rolling out of control!
I remember one day, sitting on the sofa, baby in my arms, unshowered (again), in sweats, crying, thinking… “There is NOTHING that prepares you for this! Why don’t other women tell you it’s going to be like this?!! Is there some secret pact not to tell us new Mommies?” (I’m pretty sure I was secretly raining down showers of ill will towards every mother I had ever known!)
Fast forward 28 years! Through the toddler stages, crawling, walking, 2 more children, more diapers, more bottles, scraped knee’s, 1st day’s of school, school pictures, science projects, piano lesson’s, T-ball, E.R.visits, band concerts, scout camps, middle school, soccer games, art competitions, high school, drivers licences, award ceremonies, proms, dating, graduation, diners, diners, diners, laundry, laundry, laundry, etc. etc.! Whew! Then…WHAM…two kids get married 6 months apart and 3 months after that your last one leaves for college!
Whoa! WHAT. JUST. HAPPENED? Suddenly, and without warning…the house is very, VERY quiet and you are back to where you started. Only…you’re not! You are no where near that starting line.
You see…now you know what you didn’t know all those years ago as a first time Mom! Now you know what it feels like to be needed every day, day in and day out. Just like the Momma bird. Now you know what it’s like to be loved unconditionally, by a little person, who loves you back regardless of all your imperfections and shortcomings. Now you know true joy, in it’s purest form. Not the High School kind of Joy…but deep down, heart and soul JOY!
Oh sure,there were times you wanted to hide in the bedroom closet with a big box of doughnuts! Maybe just for a quick 5 minutes so you could be alone, but you also loved the snuggles, hugs, and kisses. The cute sticky faces. All the “firsts”…first tooth, first step, first date, first love. Some days you were exhausted from running in 20 different directions, but other days you loved cheering in the stands as your daughter hit that court, or your son won that art competition. Some days you wanted to scream if you heard the word “Mom” one more time! Most of the time it was the sweetest sound in the Universe. The beauty of the role “mother” is that the “Highs outweigh the lows and are SO sweet!” During the toddler years you wonder if they’ll ever grow up and then one day your sitting at their High School graduation wondering where all the time went?
Now, you sit in silence! The schedule is less hectic, the meals smaller, you miss the cheering, the plunking piano, the daily hugs, the daily updates, most of all, you miss being needed. You find yourself stopping at the foot of the stairs looking up and remembering…your mind is filled with the memories. Sometimes you close your eyes and strain your ears to hear the words “MOM! Where’s my…..?”. You’re not sure what to do with yourself or what your “new” job description is? Once again you find yourself sitting there thinking “There is NOTHING that prepares you for this!” “Why didn’t someone tell me it was going to be this hard!” And you’d be absolutely right!
There is nothing that prepares you for motherhood. That is why women, all women, are amazingly awesome and fearless! We are Super Women even with our Kryptonite weaknesses. We take on a job we really know nothing about, and we work at it hard every single day! Some days we succeed, and some days are epic fails…but we pull our cape on a little tighter, pick ourselves up, and keep on going. About, the time we think we have it down…they do what we’ve raised them to do…they leave the nest! Now,we must once again redefine ourselves! That my friends, is no easy task.
I’ll admit I had a whole lot of “Frazzled Frannie” days when raising my “chicks”! That’s why I wanted “Frazzled Frannie” as my “alter-ego” here on the Nest! Because I’m NOT perfect! I messed up a lot and despite my blunders, my children were able to leap out of this Nest and FLY! More than that…they soared! Your’s will too! So, be kind to yourself! Stop looking at what you aren’t doing and celebrate what you are doing! I bet it’s a lot more than you think!
I originally wanted to name the blog “Norine’s Empty Nest” but, my husband vetoed that name. He lovingly reminded me that my job was not done…it was just moving into another phase of development and I still have a lot to offer. He was right! The kids still call and ask “Mom how do I do such and such!” And, in those moments, God gently reminds me that my job as “Mother” is not over. I’ve just added to the role by adding the word “Grand” in front of “Ma”! Another new road to travel and one that is oh so delightful!
So, I threw out the “Empty” and decided to keep building this little Nest of mine.
Now you know why my blog is called “Norine’s Nest”. While my nest may be empty I’m taking the leap of faith forward and crushing my Kryptonite! If the Mommy bird can do it…I can do it! And, if I can do it..you can do it! No matter what stage of “Mommy hood” you are at, you can do it! Why? Because we are SUPER WOMEN! Whether our nests are bursting at the seams, or quite and empty. Whether we have children or we don’t. Whether we are married or we are not. Let’s support each other! Let’s lift and inspire, laugh and cry, and if need be, on the bad days, hide in the closet with that box of doughnuts! We got this!
It happens every year… Mother’s Day! The day all mothers secretly anticipate glorious, wonderful…