One of the things I enjoy as fall moves to winter and the trees finally concede to the season dropping their last leaves are the birds nests that appear nestled in their branches. Hidden by the foliage of summer, as they are exposed they serve as a reminder and promise of the rebirth and eventual warmth of a new spring. Some are reused and new ones are constructed. Lined and padded with grass and leaves, sometimes lint or bits of paper, they create warm, safe, snug places to lay and hatch eggs and rear young.
I have seen a blanket made of down stretched over the nest of a goose. The mother sacrifices her own coat to serve the fragile lives developing inside the eggs it covers. I have watched as she turns each egg with her bill to ensure the correct formation of that small life. I have been warned away when the mother or drake feel that I have ventured too close to their painstakingly cared for treasures.
Parents nurture their young, helpless in their newborn, unfeathered state. Mothers ferry food to them inside themselves and, when the time comes, teach them to fly. Eventually, they spread their wings and leave the nest, independent and free.
Recently, my brother's youngest child moved out of the home he and her mother had created with her. Her departure was met with what seemed a mixture of sadness and depression. I have known other parents whose emotional experience was similar after the departure of their children., I have never raised a child. I cannot empathise, only sympathise with these feelings. Perhaps it is loneliness. Perhaps it is a feeling of no longer being needed by the one that has always needed you most. But when children have the strength, will and determination to leave the security of their childhood home and face the uncertainty that defines adulthood it means that as a parent you have done your job exceedingly well. You have provided your child with the education, tools and insight to face the next phase of their lives and all that it will present to them.
Children never stop needing their parents. They will return for advise and love or for their comfort during difficult periods. They will also return to share their joy during happy times. A true love met or the expectation of a new life. There is no greater teacher in the rearing of a child than those that have done it before.
Children never truly leave home. They move away, but they always carry their home with them. It is part of the foundation they use to build their own home. As their children grow and move away that home travels with them also. Although they may no longer live with you, your children are always at home.