Nesting


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In facts, the story of last week is this: a baby bird was outside our doorstep, seemingly separated from his mother. We could not find a nest, but brought him inside the fence to keep the dog from grabbing him. His mother found and fed him, but two days later he drowned. Those are the facts.

The facts do not tell about the empathy in my little boy’s heart, as he insists on bringing baby bird water, and giving baby bird flowers because he is sad without his mama.

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The facts don’t tell of his three year old hand reaching into the dog’s mouth to take the baby out, and safely nestle him between the plants. When it becomes clear that the dog would not let it be, he ever so gently picks up the bird and requests a nest. He helps me to carry the bird out to the fenced yard. There he insists on watching for over an hour, sitting on his knees, while baby bird’s new feathers, interrupted by fluffs of down not yet lost, wave with the rhythm of his tiny beating heart.

blog-6798The facts don’t tell how we all cheer from the living room window when his mother finds him, and feeds him over the next two days. We watch, breath held, as she teaches him to fly, and he takes small fluttery leaps, from branch to branch, in the shrubs by the pool.

The facts cannot tell how we all run to check on him every time we return home. The facts cannot explain my heavy heart beating loudly as I fish his little body from the pool, now tiny, yellow and still, without the fluff of his frightened heartbeat giving him shape.

Baby bird flew away, my boy declares. I don’t correct him.

Loss is part of life, and yet, I sometimes wonder whether we expect too much maturity from these little expats of ours. Say goodbye to your home, say goodbye to your friends, say goodbye to the family you just visited for the first time in a year.

Maybe adding the life lessons of a little bird that didn’t make it outside his nest, is too much for my mama heart. I have been second-guessing my decision to move that little bird, just as I second-guess my decisions for my little expats with every move.

My husband assured me that the likelihood of the little bird’s survival was pretty slim outside the nest. I know he is probably right – I found a sibling just a day later, still alive, but covered in ants.

In facts, we know that children with routine and ritual are more resilient. But that’s not the whole story.

The story is that I nest constantly, making sure our home reflects us, makes us feel loved, even as the institutional furniture is the same everywhere.  I nest – building routines and rituals out of the smallest events of our family life, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. Without this nest, our ability to thrive is so reduced.

Two Reasons Why I’m Sleeping More

Let me tell you the two most important reason why I aim for 8 hours of sleep these days, and you should too.

1. It makes me a better mom.

One Tuesday, few weeks ago, my son asked for ice cream repeatedly when he knew it was not treat night (we eat dessert on Wednesdays and Sundays around here.)

“Not only is there no ice cream tonight, but you will never ever get any ice cream ever again!” I burst out.

Before they both started sobbing, I saw the look in my boys’ eyes. I completely lost my cool, and they were afraid. I walked away feeling terrible and tried desperately to understand what went so horribly wrong.

The night before, I stayed up much too late reading a great book. I was just plain exhausted, and nagging I would usually try to defuse with a joke or distraction sent me over the edge.

I apologized to them, and put myself to bed early that night. And then, I gave them ice cream on Wednesday.

2. It allows me to pay attention

I got Mommy brain pretty seriously when I had my first son. It manifests itself in an inability to concentrate well and an inability to remember. I would walk into a room to get something.  While I was in there, I would see something else I needed to do, and not only forget what I came to get originally, but forget that I was there to get something at all.

Most of my friends gave half-embarrassed laughs when I talked about it. “Me too,” they’d say. Turns out that Mommy brain is common, and the culprit? The constant sleep deprivation moms experience during the early years. When I saw this TED talk, it made even more sense – without sleep, your brain is literally full of junk.

The way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep.  Arianna Huffington 

In her book, Thrive, (an excellent compilation of all sorts of lifestyle wisdom,) Arianna Huffington talks about how she was so sleep deprived that she hit her head on her desk, broke her cheek bone, and needed five stitches above her eye. To me, that seems like a pretty painful wake-up call.

When I have a day when I can’t seem to get much done, and wander aimlessly around my house and to-do list, I put myself to bed early. I will more than compensate for the few work hours I lose that night by my improved efficiency the next morning. How about you?