Are You My Mother?

The birds flew the nest today.

I’ve watched them for weeks. First a pair of small gray doves,  then joined by impossibly tiny shell-colored nestlings, making their home in our chimneya Discovery Channel show just for me, right outside my kitchen window. These days where everything feels so virtual and automated, I’ve taken to appreciate the most simple of unchanging things– to remind me that nature still exists and will always keep its course. You still need to watch for the tides. The birds will always return.


The call of a mourning dove will forever take me back to when my son was young. His curiosity engaged; he knew all the sounds. Doves, robins, hawks, and finches. ‘Are You My Mother’ was his favorite book to have me read. He’d laugh and laugh considering the baby bird confused by a tractor, or a cow. He’d hang on to my words, my actions, my being.

Now, he’s a teenager. The invasion of teen years makes the ease of laughter feel distant, and curiosity and simplicity of things are temporarily out of order. My words and my being, a story no longer wanting to be heard.

Each year the birds return. They seem to nest where we can watch and be reminded of both the ease and complexity of parenthood. A reminder of how a mother knowingly provides for her unborn and then live and active children. The love and care as the parents work together to make all things safe for their offspring.

I watch each day as they nest, and wait, and protect.

They wake, they feed, they love, they teach.

Every year I’m surprised, anew, at how suddenly they have grown, and gone.

This, the beginning of my son’s teen years, is the first time I can feel the emptying nest. It is confusing, unsettling, and scary.

We still wake, and feed, and love, and teach– but he’s also ready to fly.


Photo credit: Amanda Ambrose Photography


In my mind, I know that that this is what we were born to do.  This is how you steer the course.  This is nature’s way.

In my heart, I want to build a bigger nestand keep him here forever.

I know it won’t be this year, or likely the next, but it is my sincerest hope that someday soon, my baby bird will return. That he’ll laugh, and laugh with me again, that he’ll hear my words, and appreciate my being, and that he’ll have his own great stories to tell.

And through it all, I hope he’ll always carry in his heart, that I am and always will be…His Mother.


Photo Credit: Amanda Ambrose Photography

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32 thoughts on “Are You My Mother?

  1. I have four boys ages 22-9 and no matter their age I want to protect them. But I know it is important to guide them for them to go their own way letting them know I am always here. So good!

  2. Sonja- Too Much Character February 4, 2019 — 3:33 am

    Why did you have to go and make me cry tonight? Beautiful post! Excuse me while I sob hugging my three year old son tomorrow morning.

  3. My son is 16 and it is so bittersweet watching them get ready to leave but waiting to keep them.

  4. It can be so hard but so rewarding. Knowing they have become their own person and can take care of themselves.

  5. I have a ways to go to get to this point since my daughter is only three, but I know it’ll go too fast. This is a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Oh my goodness. This was a beautiful post. I can’t imagine that feeling and am still in denial that my toddler will ever not be a toddler. Why do they have to grow up so fast?

  7. This is so sweet! My oldest is only 5 and this hits the spot in the old feels.

  8. This is a wonderful story. I’m glad you shared this.

  9. Ohhhh… teary eyes while reading this. It really touched me. I have 2 boys 6 and 1, I could barely feel you misses your young one cuddling with you. Great share.

  10. I am crying just thinking about what this must be like… we’ve got a while yet, but I’m already feeling time slip away… such a great post!

  11. Beautiful post that really encompasses what parents go through. Our kids will one day understand when then have children of their own but our job is to get them ready to leave our nest to find their own. I am close to that empty nest myself and I’m torn. I remember reading Are You My Mother on a daily basis to my first daughter.

  12. You normally make me laugh. Today, you brought tears to my eyes. Your son will always know you’re his mother. He might fly a little, but he’ll always find his way back to you.

  13. What a beautiful post. I have to admit, I teared up a bit reading it! And the photos were beautiful too.

  14. This is a great analogy and a beautiful post! It made me tear up a bit and my son is only 13 months.

  15. I love how you’re documenting this, because it really is a very special time in a parent’s life. I’m not lucky enough to have kids at this moment, but I watched my nephew and niece grow into very awesome adults and I imagine it felt at least similar to how you must feel as a mother. A very bittersweet feeling. Like, they don’t need you but they still need you, you know? And it seems to happen overnight! He’s a good lookin dude, you and your husband did alright!

  16. Oh my goodness what a beautiful read! You’ve put so much emotion and realness into this. I think that one day your son will read these beautiful words and he will be so thankful for you and the obvious devotion you have for him.

    I so enjoyed reading this, thank you for writing it!

  17. I loved your story.Mothers are special & you made feel so good going back in time.

  18. Growth is part of life, and unfortunately, we can’t do anything about it. Kids never grows out of parent’s concerns and care. I’m 47 and my 81 year old mother will not sleep until I get back home even if it’s midnight.

  19. I don’t have kids of my own, but I have watched my sister’s twins grow from adorable little babies to tall and gangly 13-year-olds, seemingly overnight. I don’t know how it happened so quickly.

  20. Oh gosh, girl! I don’t even have kids yet and this made me feel weepy!

  21. I love the metaphor! It’s amazing how much our lives resemble to nature. I guess what matters at the end is always the quality of life that we have lived.

  22. “Are you my mother,” such a sweet story and such a sweet reflection about your son. Thanks for sharing.

  23. With five kids between 23 and 29, all of our baby birds have flown the nest. However, three of them have now brought their own little ones to fill our “empty nest” with love, joy, and the wonder of childhood once again. We now have four grandchildren ages three and under and are expecting a fifth one this summer. Life moves on, and things change, but there is still love, joy, and happiness.

  24. It is such a difficult war between wanting to keep them under your wing forever, and raising them to be productive and independent on their own too. Such a struggle. But from many of your posts I’ve read, you’re a great parent and your kid will do great things when he’s an adult. Keep pushing through!

  25. Noooooo tell me that they’ll never grow up. They’ll stay in our safe little nest always…

  26. I’m a mom of teens and I know the day is fast approaching. Now I feel a sense of pride because the people that they are I am so proud of them. But my heart gets heavy and I can almost feel the tears roll down my cheek when I read this post. Thank you for let us in.

  27. I have a 16 year old girl and a 13 year old boy..your post brings tears to my eyes..there were weeks and months and years when each moment of my life used to revolve around year by this time we will prepare to let her go, and in next three years our nest will be totally empty with him going to College! I try to visualize my life with none of them around! It is not a very easy thought! I still do not know how life without them around is going to be. I must say your post was very beautifully written!

  28. We are getting ready to embark on the pre teen years and I’m already not ready for my babies to leave 😭

  29. reading your story reminds me so much of my mom growing up, how she never wanted my brother and i to grow up but it always seemed like we grew up before her eyes. it must be a very bittersweet feeling!

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