Our first Spring in this house, I put a birdhouse in our backyard. A silly little thing, decorated with ceramic chickadees, it hung right outside our sunroom window, not three feet above the ground. I assumed it would be decorative. What bird would build its nest right next to our busy birdfeeder, with a handful of garden gnomes keeping watch and deer tromping by every day? What bird would feel safe so low to the ground, with loud little-kid-hands busy in the garden all afternoon?
But within an hour, a black-capped chickadee settled right in. And it has been the same every April. Small, speckled white eggs. Mama bird coming and going. Juni can’t stay away. She is overflowing with curiosity about the mama and the babies. She wants to know what the nest looks like and the eggs. She is constantly peering into the tiny entrance. Following her lead, Owen grabs the birdhouse to get a better look. The whole thing swings wildly on its hook and I cringe to think of delicate eggs bumping around in there. I run up to grab little hands and admonish, to explain how helpless and fragile those eggs are when the mama is away.
Every afternoon, she lets them inspect her house and her babies. They peer and giggle and stand on tippy-toes, jostling and whispering their loud little-kid-whispers.
That is, until I walk up and she flies away.
If I were the poet I once thought I’d be, before I knew anything at all, I would write a poem for what this says about them and her and me, about trust and fear and motherhood.
Instead I take their hands and walk away slowly.
I explain to my girl that even though mama-bird has left, she is never far away. See how she always comes back.
I remind my boy to be gentle with the world and amazed.
I remind myself to keep noticing these things and remember.