I sometimes take mothering to the extreme. In that I find myself mothering everyone and everything.
I have found myself saying, “Make good choices!” to a 50-year-old co-worker leaving for the weekend. Just last night, I made kissy noises while passing my daughter’s friend sleeping on the floor of her bedroom. And because I live with people that collect animals, I find that I mother dogs, cats, bees, ducks, pigeons, chickens, geese and the occasional turkey, too.
I do love animals. In fact, as a child I always told my mom I wanted to grow up and marry a farmer. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I want to see all animals healthy and loved.
Our one legitimate pet is a dog. Nellie knows that I will keep her fed and safe. She also knows most of the fun stuff (hunting) happens with the boys. If she’s hurt, though, she’ll come to Mom.
Then there were cats. There was a sweet kitty hanging around our house when the kids were young. Matt started feeding him. I warned Matt, “You cannot bring an animal into our lives and think I will just turn my back in the winter.” Pretty soon we were buying cat food, taking trips to the vet and cleaning out a kitty litter box in the garage. And once you have one cat … what’s one more?
I almost forgot the season of rabbits. We had quite a few rabbits one year. They were huge and pooped incessantly, and I mothered them right along until the end. And this is how it goes.
Suddenly, one day in the spring (it’s always in the spring), I come home to a box. Who knows what is in the box? It could be nearly anything. We don’t have a home for it, we don’t know what to feed it, we have no plan for it, but here it is: a rabbit or two or five. Then I diligently mother those animals; I feed them and care for them and love them and get attached to them and then, eventually they die. And the kids and I cry and next spring there is another box.
Now there are birds — all kinds of birds. Some I like and some I don’t. But still, I do not want to see them die on my watch. We currently have nine chickens, five ducks (courtesy of a box that Logan brought home) and about a dozen pigeons. We have made a decision to over-winter the chickens and ducks. I have agreed on the pretense that I am not responsible.
I did not think this decision through properly. Both Matt and Logan are gone deer hunting. Last night I spent some time installing a heated poultry fountain and chasing a duck around in the dark to get it safely inside for the night. This morning, Laura and I spent an hour shoveling a watery poop/hay mix out of the coop and improvising a new setup for the poultry fountain. Apparently the ducks do not understand I have Christmas presents to wrap. But I love them anyway. It’s what moms do.
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