Recently, I walked out onto my patio to discover two fledgling blue jays balancing and hopping from deck to chair…flapping wings up and down… trying so hard to fly. I wanted to rescue them, but I witnessed Momma Jay come in to feed them several times and after doing a little research decided they would be ok on their own. One fledgling disappeared the first day. I searched the yard for him, so I assume he managed to fly up to the tree branches. The second one stayed over night and survived a heavy rain before he, too, was gone.
The incubation period for blue jay eggs is 17 to 18 days. After hatching, naked and vulnerable, they remain in the nest for 18 to 21 days while Mom and Dad Jay watch over and feed them as their feathers grow and they mature. While some young jays remain close to the parents for a month or two, they’re on their own and Mom and Dad Jay are off to new adventures preparing for a new season.
Empty nests…those bedrooms vacated as our last fledgling leaves home for college…career…the military…marriage. We’ve spent 18+ years teaching them to spread their wings…to develop independence…to make wise choices and we are excited to see what the future holds. On the flip side, we feel sadness. The house is suddenly empty and much too quiet. No more school activities, dance lessons, track or swim meets, and ball games to rush off to.
We (especially stay-at-home moms) are seldom ready for the “empty nest” emotions that we experience. The loss that we feel. The tears that fall. It’s normal to feel that way. And it’s okay to acknowledge those feelings. But remember that, unlike the blue jays, we’re still parents and our fledglings still need us and will return, (most likely with dirty laundry.)
Our parental relationship is evolving. We’ve reached a new season in life. Speaking from a mom’s perspective, we have a new freedom to rediscover who we were before we became moms…to rediscover old interests and hobbies that have been sitting on the back burner of life. Time to discover new interests…cooking…decorating…painting…traveling…the possibilities are endless. Have lunch with friends. Attend a Bible study or volunteer to help in the nursery or children’s ministry at church.
Acknowledge the feelings of loss and loneliness, realize and accept that what you are feeling is normal but not permanent, and embrace what the future holds. The best is yet to come!
Darlene Shelton 7-20-22