Written by: PEPPER CARPENTER
Retire and move to an island after your children are raised – sounds like a woman’s dream come true, right? Of course you will miss your kids, of course you will worry about them, but you have done your job, they have “flown the nest”. You are now free to live your life and parent from afar. It was this course of logic that convinced me I could sell my home and move to an island.
As a mother of six, I have learned that although they are grown, you will always be their mother and therefore, you will forever be “infected”. Every mother on Earth is aware of this illness of which I speak; it’s a little affliction we all know called, “motherly instinct”. Symptoms: You worry about stupid shit. You lose sleep needlessly. You check for texts and emails constantly. Your brain runs itself on a constant loop of worrying: Are they safe? Are they eating well? Are they wearing their seat belts? Are they wearing condoms? (I’m already up to 8 grandchildren, so obviously not!) One assumes that once the kids leave home, symptoms will improve. When that didn’t work for me, I made the decision to move to an island, thinking that perhaps that might just be the cure. Note to self (and to all infected mothers who might be wondering): There is no cure! An encounter with a little island visitor really drove that point home for me recently…
I arrived back to Belize after an extended visit with my six children in the states. I felt comfortable and at peace knowing they are all well and busy with their own lives. Now it was time for me to get excited about my new island adventure! Coming back to my rock, I always look forward to early morning yoga on the deck, eating healthy food, reading good books, watching the sunrise from my bed, and most of all, riding my bike. On this island, your bike is your lifeline, and I sure love my lifeline. I have a little wire basket on the front to carry fresh produce, and I ride my bike to shop, do errands, exercise, and simply to relax.
Pulling in to my condo, my eyes immediately searched for my bike. Yay! There it was, securely locked to the front patio as I’d left it. But… what’s all this mess? As I walked closer, I noticed there was something in the basket. What first looked like debris turned out to be the most gorgeous bird’s nest. And right there in the middle of that nest that was tucked inside my bike basket was a tiny pastel blue egg. Breathtaking. This is Belize, and oh how I love birds!
But wait – Oh no… Oh no no no! The realization of what this meant for me hit. Some bird built her nest in my basket. You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. My eyes darted across the trees surrounding the patio, now wanting to scold this bird mother for her carelessness. Didn’t she understand how long I have worked to get to this point to be able to enjoy this island and my bike?! I raised my children and you better believe I didn’t deliver them on someone else’s front door, let alone the front seat of their mode of transportation! Then, I breathed, realizing I was clearly losing it, and there was no logic in arguing over the motives of a mother bird.
I made a plan. There was only one egg and no sign of a mother bird. I decided to leave it until morning, feeling certain the egg must be old, figuring she must have abandoned it. I’ll just dispose of it, clean the basket, and move on to enjoying my first day back on the island.
Morning came and the last thing I expected to see happens.
Sometime during the night, it hatched. Yup. It was now a living, breathing creature. So much for my “disposing of it” plan. Now what was I supposed to do? This nest was nearly blocking my front door! Where the hell is your mother, baby bird? How long before you can fly and get out of my basket?!
It had to be one of the most horrendous little things I have ever seen. A face only a mother could love. I was definitely not its mother but there it was, my dreaded disease kicking in… my “motherly instinct” was back with a vengeance.
Suddenly, my mind was racing, worrying as though this little hatchling was one of my own. Is it safe? What will it eat? What about the iguana that comes up on the patio? Won’t he eat this tiny thing? Oh shit, don’t get too close or the mother bird might abandon the nest. How close is too close?!
The following weeks were exhausting, to say the least. Being tossed back into motherhood worrying, tiptoeing in and out of my front door so as not to disturb the nest or scare the baby, and dealing with the crankiness of being bike-less. Mama bird constantly stalked me from a nearby tree while I made every effort not to piss her off. Oh yes, I know you are watching mother bird, just remember, I’m a mother too. I wanted to protect the baby, but I also wanted it to get the hell out of here. My love/hate relationship with the bird’s presence teetered from side to side on the daily.
Then, exactly fourteen days after the ugly little blob appeared, it had become a beautiful little bird, and I watched it perching on the edge of the basket. Now’s your time, baby – fly away! And one morning, it did. While I wasn’t watching, it finally spread its wings and vacated the nest.
Surprising myself, I felt the loss when I didn’t see it there in the basket. Crap… was I really going to miss this thing?…
Nah! My bike is free!
This mama has an empty nest yet again and a ticket to ride her bicycle all over the island – for as much as she damn well pleases. Just give me a break for a bit, Motherly Instinct. I could use some tropical freedom.