June 28, 2023

I remember being pregnant, and reading everything I could get my hands on about that glorious/nauseous time of life. The hugely popular What to Expect When You’re Expecting had just been published, and I may have been one of the first readers. I recall learning about the “nesting instinct,” which kicks in during the last month or two. Like other female members of the animal kingdom, moms-to-be have a compulsion to scurry around, making the “nest” ready for the little one to come. I read about meticulously organized baby clothes, painted nurseries, pre-addressed thank you notes, stockpiled Gerber strained beets. When would MY nesting instinct kick in? At nine months along, I was still wildly disorganized, with my baby shower gifts still in boxes and my baby food cupboard bare (had to have room for all those craving cookies, right?)

I’ve since heard of other preggos who didn’t really “nest,” so I’m feeling a bit better. But it did get me thinking about the concept of nesting. Truth be told, what actually got me thinking was the sudden appearance of grass and straw under my A/C unit in my home office, accompanied by wild chirping sounds. Yep, a mother bird was setting up housekeeping on my windowsill. What to do? Steve and I pried open the window, and kind of cleared away the existing nest materials, in hopes of discouraging her (much as landlords stop repairing things so that the tenants will leave and they can raise the rent). Alas!! Mother B is not easily dissuaded from this prime bit of real estate. This morning I noticed another tell-tale trail of greenery emerging.

I’m tempted to just let things be, especially since we leave for six weeks at the beach soon. What’s the worst that can happen? A huge batch of baby finches flying around my desk upon my return? Yeah. That would be pretty bad.

Then there are those clever Russian nesting dolls, of which we have several sets. These lovely painted dolls always fascinated the kids. For about five minutes. Then they’d lose the tinier pieces, and lose interest in the rest. “Hey, let’s play with the nesting dolls!” never once escaped their lips. I’d find myself putting them back together and then away, which was harder than it sounds, because I’d always end up with one less or one extra doll.

The only reliable nests I make, are the ones in my heart. Friends old and new, tiny additions to our family, even cherished books and pieces of music, all have their cozy spots deep inside. The problem is, when the nests empty, they don’t disappear. So, I’m left with gaping holes--when the kids move out, when the friendships die, when the books are forgotten and the music goes out of tune. There’s no replacing what's lost.

But there’s beauty in the bounty, the record of love in my empty nests. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Hey! Maybe the windowsill birds can move in!


    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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