Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Awkward Motherhood: My First Mother's Day

I issued an executive directive this weekend: We are not going to be celebrating Mother's Day in our house.

I mean no disrespect to the rest of you who are into that scene, but as for me and my house, we're going to lay low and hide from the universe. Holidays and I do not get along. There's always too much pressure for the day to be perfect, or if not perfect, at least better than average. It's tempting fate. Holidays are, from my perspective, looking out at a brewing thunder storm and announcing that it looks like a lovely day to fly a kite. You're just begging to be struck down, charred and crispy.

The last thing I need in my year is another holiday and in my opinion Mother's Day is the most manufactured holiday of them all. At least Valentine's day is associated with a saint. Mother's Day is just a day where culture guilts you into proving your appreciation for your mom (and let's face it, if your mom didn't think you loved her the rest of the year, there's no way you're going to turn it around in one day with some grand gesture).

I will spare you the details of my Mother's Day weekend, I don't want to get started complaining, but I will say that it started out with our dryer dying and included losing a paycheck, spilling milkshake in my car, and cutting my finger on a knife. These were no permanent disasters and if this were just any weekend it would have just been stressful, but you add the we're-going-to-have-a-pleasant-relaxing-day-or-die-trying pressure of a holiday and the celebration became a curse.

So while Peter and I lay in bed, absolutely beaten down by the day, I told him, "We will not be celebrating Mother's Day any more. Lydia can make homemade cards until she's too old for it to be cute, but beyond that, just throw me a 'Thanks, hun' throughout the year and we'll call it even."

I was single long enough to realize that simply being a Mom is itself a gift. And by the way, thanks guys, I love it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Story of the Little, Lost Bird

"If you become a bird and fly away from me. . . I will be a tree that you come home to."
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

This is the story of the little bird I saved. When is say "saved," I mean, "managed not to accidentally kill."

Thursday is our watering night. While I was out by the side of the house trying to reach the spots the sprinkler couldn't get to, I noticed what I thought was dried grass clippings blowing in the wind. I realized that this was was actually a bird—a young bird—and my heart sank. While the bird wasn't tiny, it clearly wasn't full grown. It wasn't injured but wasn't trying to fly. I looked around for a nest, but couldn't find one in the small crepe myrtle trees nearby. There was an old nest in a vent high on the side of our house, but I wasn't even aware if it was being used  anymore.

I grew up in the country and with my sister attempted many times to help displaced young bunnies and birds. It ne'er worked. The animals always died. It is pretty obvious that an intelligent, caring, equipped human can't replace the animal's actual mom; that's why students take animal husbandry courses to do what the dumbest animals do by instinct. I am not a zoo keeper or a vet, so I realized immediately that this little birds was a lost cause. My heart broke. The thought of watching this small life slowly die outside our home was just wrenching. I could leave the bird where it was, but then I'd just be waiting for one of the local cats or dogs to eat it.

I grabbed Peter and we checked out the small trees nearby. Peter decided that the bird must have come from the nest in the vent since there were clearly no nests in the trees. The vent was small and dark and we couldn't see any birds inside, but it was entirely possible they were there. 

Peter climbed the ladder and put the bird inside, but I was still pretty worried. On the one hand, that HAD to be the nest; on the other hand, I didn't hear any noise coming from the area. On the one hand, there was no way we could properly care for a baby bird even if we wanted to; on the other hand, what if we had just stuffed a little baby creature into a hole that wasn't it's home where it would starve all alone!

Peter was so patient with me as I fretted and we talked about our options. He asked if we should get the bird out. I told him I had no idea what to do to keep it alive. Peter told me that his family had kept birds as pets growing up and he'd done it before. I reminded him that there would be no one at home all day like there had been in his house. Peter pointed out that the bird was almost grown anyway. He clearly didn't want a wild bird in the house, but he could tell how worried I was and was pretty generous in offering to take the bird in.

As we were standing there debating whether or not to go back up the ladder and retrieve the bird, we saw the flap on the vent above us start to move. Suddenly the little bird hopped out! It would have been adorable if it hadn't seemed so tragic!

The bird hit the ladder and bounced off and onto the ground where it landed on its neck.

I felt sick! The little guy wasn't moving as we scooped him up and checked him out. I was on the verge of tears, but Peter assured me the bird was okay, just stunned. I was sure he was just being comforting; the still, fragile bird looked like it would soon be gone. Peter told me to go inside and see what we'd need to buy to be able to feed the bird. I was pretty sure he was just trying to distract me while the bird died, but I was eager not to be around when that happened, so I hurried off.

The first little piece of info I came across in my Google search was that mother birds feed their babies every 20 minutes. Holy smoke! We were clearly not going to be able to do that for the bird. It was looking pretty grim.

Then I found a site that offered the suggestion of putting the bird in a berry basket in a nearby tree or bush. It said that birds will often continue to feed their young even if they're transplanted from the nest. I don't have a berry basket but I did have an old, plastic basket filled with junk in the garage. We filled the basket with grass and put the bird in. Then we stuck it in tightly between the branches of the crepe Myrtle.

We went inside and I broke down. Seriously, everything seemed like a much bigger deal than it should have. To cheer myself up, I snuck into Lydia's room to watch her sleep. 

The next day I was not thinking about the bird at all. I was trying to get ready for work when Peter called me to the door. The little bird's mother had been feeding her. The basket nest had worked! Later that day, I got this text from Peter: The little birdie just flew!!

He'd been on his way to his car when he saw the little bird follow its mom out of the tree. I can't believe it worked! I can't believe the bird didn't get eaten by a dog or fried by the sun! I can't believe the bird's mom came back for it!

We see the fragility of life demonstrated daily. As a mom, it's nice to Be reminded of life's resilience as well.