by Michlene Kali

I am watching my cats climb everything in the house because I’m refusing them freedom until the family of robins in the tree adjacent to our balcony has their fledglings skyward. Twice my female cat has escaped, and within minutes she’s had a baby bird in her paws. We have chased her down each time and even returned the young bird to the tree in a shoebox nest as we couldn’t reach the original nest. Another time the bird was able to retreat on its own.

It means a lot to me to protect the baby robins and help the parents keep their family safe. Most of us regardless of our prejudices will go above and beyond to protect the young.

In my own home this past week, I have felt, at times, that my young people were my persecutors. Keeping me from sanity, pulling me from my legitimate tasks as well as my puttering and procrastination. Demanding food and attention at all times.

At three o’clock this morning I woke with the realization that my chief persecutor is my fear (not a new thought) and that fear makes me feel crazy. It stops me from allowing the divine order.  It impairs my clear thought and mindfulness of my breath, in fact, at times, it stops my breath entirely. It is my own young man, poised for adulthood, poised for flight and my fear of a predatory world for a young black boy.

A teenager in the home, perhaps especially the first one, reminds you of all the hopes you’ve ever had for yourself and your children. It is a mid-point in childhood (based on the brain development studies that indicate completion to be around 24 years old.)  Watching my teen wriggle through these years I pray to have given him more love, more support, more grounding and stability, to have somehow blessed him with the ability to circumvent all the strife of the teen years, of all the years. It is in my fear of failure and my lack of trust that there is deeper struggle between us.  It is the fear of cats and high trees and falls without cushions. It is the crumbling nest around him that has served it’s purpose and breaks apart to become a part of the world below.

Still, as the nest breaks apart and the fledglings are able to avert dangers and learn to fly, the robin parents scream and shout. They call out when we pull into the driveway, or (wrinkle brow) when the feline attacks. They chirp and call constantly for their children, who are now scattered, and they still bring them worms and such. This is nature, of which I am a part.


About Michlene Kali
Michlene is an aspiring writer. In her day job, she is an educational consultant and mentor with Ka-Lo Academy in Oakland, CA. She is the mother of three not so young children, who enjoys spending time by the ocean and hiking the regional parks of the East Bay. She has also worked for 17 years as a doula. She took the Five Mindfulness Trainings in the Plum Village tradition at Deer Park Monastery in 2007 & 2014 and was given the dharma name Life-Giving Volition of the Heart.

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