The nest is empty. Of course it is a cliché, but the empty nest is, in a way, symbolic of leaving – and that means a loss. When a child leaves home for college, the parents, and, I think, the mother especially, experience an empty nest. Mothers go through many experiences of a child leaving. First, the child leaves her womb. When a child is weaned, there is a separation. When the child goes to kindergarten, there is a leaving. When the child goes to college there is yet another leaving. Even though there is also a returning, many times, a relationship with a child is a series of leaving. When a child marries, there is the most final leaving. Biblically, the couple is instructed to leave and cleave – to leave the first relationship with the parents and to be glued to his or her mate. I guess that is why there are often tears at a wedding. No matter how happy one is for one’s child, there is a final leaving.
When my daughter was born after many disappointments, I remember sitting and holding her when she was about a week old. Of course I was gazing at her and memorizing every inch of her and every nuance of expression that even a week old child has. I began to cry and my husband, alarmed, asked what was wrong. I explained that even after one week she had already changed and soon she would change more and more and before we knew it she would walk and talk and then go to school and then go to college and would get married and would be leaving us and very soon other people would be influencing her and I couldn’t stand the pain of the separation. Yes, I know it wasn’t logical.
But the nest, both psychically, and physically is empty. The little Humming Birds have flown off and the tiny nest is swaying in the breeze. Did the mother bird have pangs as her babies left?
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