Life with Ladybug: An empty nest

By Shannon Magsam, Ladybug’s mama

As I’ve pecked away at my laptop the past few weeks, I’ve been watching a family of robins outside my home office window.

The parents made a mess of my front porch as they created the nest, littering my rocking chairs with dried grass and twigs that fell from their beaks as they ascended over and over.

Finally perfect, they sat. And sat. And sat on the nest they built atop one of one of my front porch columns. Smart birds. Their little house isn’t subject to spring rain or the golfball-size hail that bulleted from the sky recently. I have a strange affinity for birds, so I’ve paid attention to their progress.

I’ve had trouble concentrating all week and their comings and goings have been calming.

This afternoon, while valiantly trying to work at my laptop, I noticed one of the babies was no longer in the nest. All three siblings had been popping up periodically over the past few days as their parents carried worms up to their open beaks.

Finally, the first bold baby had made his escape!

Along with joy, I felt a pang of sorrow.

As a writer, I’m always trying to find meaning in my circumstances, emotions and actions.

It didn’t take much brainpower to connect the dots. Today would been my 18-year-old’s high school graduation. COVID-19 changed that. No extended family was in town to celebrate, there would be no big walk across the stage, I wouldn’t clap my hands so hard they’d feel numb.

Instead, our family of three — the Three MagsAmigos as I call us — planned to get takeout (our first food pickup in over two months of social distancing).

So, meaning. It’s hard not to see parallels between the baby robin leaving the nest today and my grown-up baby doing the same, albeit only symbolically (we are, after all, not leaving the house).

In the evening, my official graduate decided she wanted to set up our tent in the backyard. We also brought out beach blankets and sat on the lawn to soak up some rays, which offered the illusion that we could possibly be on vacation.

In the middle of a mother-daughter chat, we spotted one of the baby birds across the grass. He’s that specific speckled you see in young robins, still maneuvering the world on foot more than on wing at that stage.

He’s learning to fly, so his parents are still perching on the edges of rooftops, watching him from a distance, occasionally flying down with worms in their beaks to help keep his strength up.

It was a reminder that I’ll have my girl this summer. Then – if her college campus opens in the fall – she’ll flee my nest. Like the baby robin, she’s biologically programmed to take the leap, to see what life is like beyond the confines of home, to spread her wings and test her mettle against the elements.

And, at first, I’ll be like that mama bird, watching from a distance, shouting advice from a rooftop – and occasionally swooping in with Sonic to help keep her strength up for the flight.