My daughter was born on a March day that felt like spring had always rested on our suburban Colorado community. We picked out cozy outfits, fit for a trademark Colorado late winter, and ended up bringing our first born home from the hospital on a 70 degree day. Soon we settled into our new life with a child. We seldom put her down and learned how to survive on very little sleep. My heart felt so much love and simultaneously the fear of all that could happen to this precious little life. And then the robins arrived.
It was April, earlier than they usually start singing their cheery songs. The robins started building a nest in the silver maple outside of our family room. But one day, it was knocked face down into the bulbous flowers below it. My husband came into the house, head down, and said, “The squirrels knocked the nest out of the tree. I tried to save it, but I don’t know…” I looked out the window, and sitting in the midst of the peeling, silver bark of that maple tree sat three gloriously blue eggs. My favorite color- robin’s egg blue- the color my bridesmaids wore in our wedding. And me, full of the overwhelming emotions of a new mother, began to cry.
That poor mother robin. She had dreamed of these babies and loved them so much. And then this. It was almost too much for me to process, which in itself was as new as the little baby in my arms. I was never one to love nature or have extreme empathy for it. I’m not sure I could have told you what a robin looked like.
This somewhat strange feeling of love for a bird I could barely recognize turned out to be the beginning of a friendship with birds. Just a few days later, I left my weeks-old baby to go interview for a job. This was a private school using a philosophy about Charlotte somebody…why had I never heard of her in college? I was thankfully offered the job, I imagine because I did have an uncharacteristic (for a public-school-only student) love of literature. I learned that nature study was an important part of what I would teach my fourth grade students. This caused a small amount of anxiety for an “indoorsy” person like me.
All year, I scrambled to learn about birds and guide my students towards learning about them themselves. I celebrated every new bird we saw and scrambled to the field guide to identify it. Field trips to the Audubon Society and mornings spent outdoors waiting for different birds to swoop over our heads- this became exciting and interesting to me. For the first time in my life, at 30 years old, I wanted to know more.
Charlotte Mason said that, “education is the science of relations.” When we get to know more about something beautiful and worthy, we learn to love it. And if we can love and appreciate it, then we want to know more. This is true for nature and music and art and Jesus and…what is it not true of?
This blog, two years old as of today, is named after those first robins eggs, and after my own children. My sweet little baby birds, whom I have dreamed about and love so much. When I think of my children’s education, I think of those little robins that originally sparked my interest. I pray that I can nurture and love my children, and encourage them to learn and love “those first-born affinities that fir our new existence to existing things.”