“This is what we do, my mother’s life said. We find ourselves in the sacrifices we make.”
―Cammie McGovern, Neighborhood Watch
Our cat, Giese, mewed in a weird, “this is important” stuttering sort of way. Normally a quiet cat, I looked at her with concern until I followed her gaze. Up, up, to the window above our front door, I see a mother robin wiggling into her nest.
“So near and yet so far,” I said to Giese. Cats and prey are a common equation, and I feel somehow better that a pane of glass separates cat-intention from bird-death. And yet, Giese’s ongoing interest peaks mine.
I begin watching the robin. Her nest is within easy viewing from the top of our stairs. Ironically, as I watch her, she watches me.
At first mother robin fussed with the appropriateness of last year’s nest. I can relate! She didn’t need granite counter tops, but she did need twigs sturdy enough to support her forthcoming babies. I understand her desire to update, refresh, and make last year’s nest this year’s sanctuary. Women–human or not– just seem to know how to make a nest a home, and a home a nest.
After a while I find myself talking to her, woman to woman, mom to mom.
“How are the eggs today?” I say. “Are things good?”
No answer, but no fear either.
A comfortable companionship forms.
Two days ago a shift occurs.
The robin looks down not at me, but at her nest. She and the (I assume) father robin began flying off in turns, bringing back beaks full of worm.
“I bet the babies have hatched,” said my husband. “I’m tempted to get a ladder and look.” But he didn’t. He’s much too kind to disturb a new mother tending her children.
Today Giese, once again mesmerized, watched the robin soap opera. I grabbed my camera. Here is what I observed:
The mom and dad robin take turns bringing worms. The babies–two I believe–raise their heads and open hungry mouths when the squirmy “raw food” groceries arrive. Mom, or Dad, attempt to feed equally, but there seems to be one baby bird who is a smidge bigger and more aggressive. Gulp, gulp. Swallow, swallow. Little brother or sister is on his/her own.
After the feeding, one of the parents sits upon the babies. I assume this is to keep the not-yet-feathered children from getting too cold. Or, “I’m the parent so don’t mess with me,” obedience training. Hard to tell.
Soon another meal of worm arrives. And so it goes. Hour after hour.
Two robins, who weeks earlier spent time wooing each other, are now dedicated to raising their children. So little time for sex, so much time for responsibilities. Human or bird…life’s circle. Mom’s give and give and give. At least the good ones do. There is a selflessness that washes against us like a tidal wave. What we want is to raise our babies to be healthy, happy, contributors.
Mother’s Day is a nice tribute, but we sorta-kinda shrug it off as embarrassing. We’re just doing what all moms do…everything we can.