Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Are birds smarter than humans?


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Are birds smarter than humans?

It’s possible.  In fact, the brain to body ratio in some birds equals that of dolphins and is almost the same as humans.

Why the focus on birds?  Am I about to “come out” of the bird watching closet?

Not quite.

I’ve been thinking a lot about parenting lately and I’ve come to the conclusion that birds make pretty good parents.  

They look after their eggs carefully, incubating them at the right temperature until they hatch.  They stay with their babies, feeding them and keeping them safe until they are old enough to venture from the nest.   They teach them to fly and teach them skills to keep them safe in the world.  Once they have done all that, they push them out of their nests and send them off to live their own lives.

I’m tired.  I’ve had enough of parenting.  It’s time to push my birds out of the nest.

There, I said it.

Are you shocked?   Disappointed in my attitude?

I didn’t say I don’t love my kids … I love them to bits.  More than I can ever express in words.
I’m just tired of parenting.  

Birds have got it right.  They equip their young with the skills they need to make it in the world then they push them out to fend for themselves.

This used to be the same for us humans.  If you go back a couple of generations most had left home by eighteen and were making their own way in the world.

Somewhere in between the previous generation and this one, things changed.  The game posts were moved.   All of a sudden our children didn’t move out of home.  Why would they?  Home was no longer a place they couldn’t wait to leave.   In fact, most of us have set our homes up so that our teenage children never want to go.   We build or buy homes that have plenty of room so the teenagers have their own space.  They can invite their friends over, there are less rules, their space is filled with every possible luxury – why on earth would they leave?

I am guilty as charged.  

However, there has been a shift.  It was subtle to start with, but now the subtlety has gone and the shift is more like a sledgehammer to my forehead.

My work is done here.  There is nothing more I can teach them.  They need to live their own lives and make their own mistakes to learn new lessons.

I’m tired of being responsible for my children.  They are now almost 21 and 19.  Their “stuff” is so much bigger now and I feel like I carry the worries of three adults.   They don’t ask me to do this, I just do it because I am a mother.  Their mother.  I love that they talk to me and tell me things, but on the flipside I don’t want to know everything they are doing because I worry too much.  I don’t want to know when they are out so I lay awake wondering when they are going to get home.  I don’t want to know if they get up and go to work or if they don’t.  I don’t want to be responsible for making sure they do the right thing anymore.  They need to be in charge of this now.   They want to be in charge of it.

I want to wake up in the morning and know my kitchen is exactly how I left it last night.  I don’t want to find remnants of late night toasted sandwich making.     

I want to wander through my home in my nightie and not have to worry that a twenty something man child, who is not my offspring, may also be wandering through my home.

I want to go to bed at night without sleeping lightly as I wait to hear them come home from their Friday and Saturday nights out.

I don't want to fight with them over the minutia of everyday life as we do now.  I want to have conversations with them, adult conversations and we can't do this while I am still mothering them. 

For the last twelve months I’ve wrestled with these thoughts and felt incredibly guilty.   At times I’ve felt like there was something wrong with me.  However after talking to other mothers with similar aged children I’ve found most of us feel the same.   We are all ready to start the next phase of our lives, unencumbered by children.  Free for the first time in over twenty years. 

Where does this leave our children?  Unloved?  Orphans?  Unwanted? Disposable?

Absolutely not … my boys couldn’t be more loved by me.  I will love them and care about them until the day I die.  

I just don’t want to care for them anymore and I know they don’t want me looking after them.  They are sick of my nagging and fussing and interfering.  We fight a lot at the moment.   I’m still trying to mother them and they are trying to be independent.   We are trying to live together but we all have different priorities.  The family unit has shifted, just as it should.  They are ready to start their own lives with their own boundaries – not mine. 

I’m not asking my boys to leave, nor am I kicking them out – I would never do that.  The changes occurring in our home are happening organically.  They are both talking about moving out as soon as they can afford to and I’m not feeling saddened by this.    It’s funny how things just happen and we are ready for them.  I remember when my boys were younger – the very thought of them moving away from home split my heart in two.  It wasn’t time then.  Now it is.

This is why birds push their offspring from the nest.  There isn’t enough room in the nest for a family of all adults and they know exactly when the time is right to send them off.  

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24 comments:

  1. Is it bad if I say I can't wait....? I have a long way to go!! NO PARENTAL GUILT!! I banned it, didn't you hear? Bump away Annie :-)

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    1. It is such a long ride. I am surprised how ready I am to get off. Your time will come x

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  2. Nudge nudge, wink wink. Then nudge some more. They'll still come home for roast dinners and lasagne. Xx

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    1. And I can't wait for them to come home for dinners. I will want to spoil them and talk to them ... and mother them a little bit :)

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  3. Oh Annie, I know I know I know....and yet our son didn't go until he was 25!! We were too soft (it seems) to say "time to go" I know exactly what you are talking about & how your home is a place to eat, sleep & leave to go put to work & party then back again. My 2c is that somehow these boys (coz they're not men under Mum's roof) need to see it for themselves. I will hold your hand as I wished I had been much stronger much sooner. Oh the stories I won't tell. D x

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    1. I know you know Denyse. I think we've travelled down a couple of the same pathways. xx

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  4. Perfect. Right now I can't imagine ever being in that place but that's exactly your point

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    1. When you are, it will feel right xx

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  5. Well said! I know I'm going to be facing the same situation in a few years.

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    1. When they were 17 I couldn't ever imagine - but funny how that changed in a couple of years. Lovely to meet you again today Maria. xxx

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  6. Brilliant post Annie. It gives me hope for the future. I'm at that stage (my guys are little) where I can't imagine them not being in the house and it actually breaks my heart to think of a life without them. I loved this post as it showed me that things will change and they will change for a reason. Thanks for the perspective. xx

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    1. Life has a way of actually showing us what we need to do. I really like that. xx

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  7. Annie I'm so glad you didn't stop blogging and that this was the post you came back with. We will be up for this in the coming years too and I know that MrPt and I feel we have done our time in share houses! TC will need to and she should, to live with poor students, a random backpacker, a horrible hormonal flatmate who never does the dishes and another who picks up every time the go out! I would never give up those days and I hope that she (and your boys too) get to experience some of this before finding the one and settling down, but I do not need to go back there and neither do you Annie! xxpt

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  8. As a young person (22) who still hasn't left home (though I will have by this time next year)I just want to say that the main reason I haven't left home is money. It costs SO much to live in Sydney, and I can't afford it yet. The system we have at home is simple: I take care of my own washing, I cook dinner at least once a week,we have a cleaning roster, and I pay for my car/uni/travel/nights out. In return, I have a room of my own (no parental interference about 'keeping it clean')and people to eat dinner with every night.
    Of course, I don't know how, if it all, this applies to your situation. Also, it's taken us a good two years to get to a point where we aren't all frustrated with the situation. But it is what it is, so we've adapted.

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  9. As you know Annie, mine are 20 & 18 now, so I can totally relate, with a few small differences. We don't fight... yet... but some of their behaviours are starting to annoy me, so maybe that day will come. I've also trained myself to not spend too much time laying awake wondering when they will get home. For us though, as they are both now Uni students and will be for some time yet, they won't be able to afford to leave any time in the near future so I've braced myself for a longer haul. Maybe that's why I can sleep; my brain knows I've got several years to go and damned if I'm going to lose that much sleep...
    Good luck to us all ;) x

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  10. Annie so well written. My daughter is now 17 and in her last year of school. I've been helping plan her gap year she is travelling around the world, of course I worry but I know in my heart she has strong values and street savvy. It's almost like seeing me in her I did a gap year too, now I know how my parents felt as I flew away too.

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  11. I can't imagine being there, but I know I will be too one day. And I understand completely. And they will always come home and you'll always be their mother.

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  12. I am the parent of a 15 soon to be 16 yo. I am not quite there yet - but completely see where you are going. Sending you good thoughts.

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  13. Kick 'em out! I moved out of home when I was 17. I'm now 24 and wouldn't have the solid and healthy relationship I have with my (loving and definitely not neglectful) parents now if I still lived with them.

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  14. Annie I love that you are back writing here in your space.
    My girl is 18 and I know how you feel.
    The mess after you have tidied up,the worrying till they are home,the fighting over silly little things.It is never ending.I love that we are close and she shares everything with me but...she wants me there to talk to and unload on so long as I don't ask questions when it doesn't suit her as then I am being nosey.Cant win.I am very hard on myself and blame myself for the situation.I know I have been too soft and am always being mum in trying to help her with things...when I know some things she needs to learn on her own.
    But like you I could never ask her to leave.I just wish I didn't worry about everything so much while she is here.I know she is a good kind person but while I am doing everything she has no reason to stop me.
    I wish my heart was as strong as a mama birds.x

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  15. Oh the sleepless night thing...I can so relate! And yes, your job is done - you are entitled to have your life back.

    My husband and I have a plan to sell our 5-bedroom house in about 2 years, buy a swanky unit & then rent a place with our youngest until he finishes school, taking some time out to travel. We are going to let the older 2 live in the unit for 5 years, so they will still receive our support, just not be living with us. I hope this is a fair compromise and that they'll become reasonably domesticated in that time.

    My prediction is No. 2 son will save $$$ while he's living in the unit & maybe even have a nest egg to buy something of his own when we kick him out. No 1 son will just squander all his money (he takes after me)!

    My youngest darling, being special needs, may always be with us. That's OK but I hope instead he finds a lovely woman who accepts him just as he is.

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  16. I have a 19 year old son and I relate to everything you said especially the sleepless nights waiting to hear the front door open. Thanks for saying it ... makes me feel better knowing that I'm not the only one that feels this way. xx

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me x

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