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?
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.