Our home has a red door with a wreath that I change with the seasons. The current wreath has silk tulips surrounded with green foliage. I’ve hung this wreath each spring for several years, but this year is a little different. Nestled at the top of the tulips sits a round nest of twigs filled with turquoise eggs. It would be the picture-perfect except for the fact this is a real nest with a real robin sitting on her clutch. The twigs are cemented with mud, which also affixes it to our (now dirty) front door. And because we are bird-lovers, we have started to use our back door more frequently now to avoid the inevitable startle of the robin that we fear may shake the nest from its precarious perch. In retrospect I can see the appeal of this location to the robins. It is under the porch, protected from the elements and likely warmed from the heat of indoors. However there are also obvious drawbacks! I asked at the bird store if there is anything we could do to move the nest. As expected, we are committed for the season. Apparently once a robin decides on a location, they are very difficult to dissuade.
Perhaps this shouldn’t have been a surprise to us. The robins nested in the hanging planter on our porch last year. We watched them go from eggs, to fledglings, to leaving the nest. First one brave baby bird balanced on the edge, then jumped to the ground and practiced a flight that was really more of a hop to the nearby low hedge. Then his two siblings took turns tumbling from the nest and beginning to test their wings. Within the space of several hours, the nest was vacant and the robins were off into the world. Thinking back, I wonder whether the robin nesting on our front door was one of the fledglings from the previous year.
We are also witnessing another right of passage. Our daughter and her friends just attended their prom. They were dressed in their finery, stepping out as young adults into the world. In a month, most of them will be finished with high school. Some will stay close to home, attending nearby colleges or universities. Others will go further: Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver or even leave the country. The departure feels almost as sudden as the baby robins leaving the nest. When your children are small, it’s hard to imagine that the day will come that they leave home. The time seems to stretch on endlessly, until it doesn’t. You just hope that you have prepared them well to face the world, while remaining supportive for the times that they return.
I’ve been thinking lately about what values I’ve instilled in my children. I hope these include kindness, compassion, responsibility, the value of hard work, and a love of learning. Certainly lifelong learning is core to my being. There is rarely a time when I’m not taking a class or reading anther book.
Jason Wachob’s book, Wellth: How I Learned to Build a Life, Not a Resume, has resonated with my current thinking. Here are a few lessons contained in this book that may be useful for those launching themselves out into the world:
- Eat: Be mindful of what you eat. Savor your meals slowly. Eat your veggies!
- Move: Walk every day and try yoga. Find an exercise you enjoy doing.
- Work: Focus on what you want to achieve and how to create value.
- Believe: Have faith that someone has our backs even in dark times. Visualize your success.
- Explore: Consider every job as a learning experience. Finding your passion may take time, so be patient.
- Breath: Meditation, even just focusing on your breathing, has mental and physical health benefits.
- Feel: You are influenced by the energy of the people you spend most time with. Make sure their energy is positive. Trust your gut.
- Love: Friends and romances teach us important lessons, whether they are short or long-term. Relationships should make us better.
- Heal: Massage and gut health can impact your overall well-being.
- Thank: Focus on gratitude. Give back. Don’t compare yourself to others.
- Ground: Schedule regular time in nature. Be in touch with the earth.
- Live: Treat each day as if it might be your last. Remember to laugh!
Now my daughter is back home from her prom. My son has come home to visit this weekend. My husband and I had a lovely date night for our anniversary. And the robin is settled in her nest. Things are as they should be.
What lessons do you hope your children remember? What examples have your parents passed along to you? What makes you grateful? What do you still need to learn?