Friday, August 19, 2011

A bird's gotta do what a bird's gotta do.

There is a bird.

Let's call it a sparrow. (I am not an ornithologist.)

There is an adorable little sparrow who chose my home to build her nest.

Specifically, she chose the gutter above my front porch overhang in which to build her nest.

This gutter.



The bird? Adorable. The nest? Not so adorable.

Starting at the end of May, and ending a few weeks later, I would find twigs and branches all over my porch, left over from the construction project taking place in the overhang of my porch. The top of my front porch is about 15 to 20 feet off the ground, so the branches had even farther to fall, which caused them to blow and land all over the steps and threshold of my front door.

Annoying.

But I allowed nature to take its course.

After all, these things happen.

A bird's gotta do what a bird's gotta do.

Once the nest was built, and the amount of debris on my porch lessened, I thought the worst had passed. However, I soon discovered the "treasures" that my sparrow friend had left all over my porch.

They were messy, icky, disgusting treasures that had to be hosed off the porch every few days.

Apparently? This bird liked to eat. A lot.

But a bird's gotta do what a bird's gotta do.

Weeks passed.

Hose down and sweep. Sweep and hose down.

And hose down.

Again.

Then, the other day, I stepped out my front door and saw a baby sparrow, scared and shaking, sitting on my porch, not far from a planter. The nest was in my planter.




Have I mentioned that I am not an ornithologist?

Baby humans? I can handle. Baby birds? I have no idea.

A few hours later, I opened my front door and stepped back onto my front porch to check on the bird.

And then there were two.



Two terrified, trembling birds, sat on my porch, hovering together for warmth.

The nest had fallen about 15 to 20 feet, and landed in the inadvertent cushion of my planter. When I first checked, I hadn't seen the other bird in the planter, but it must have jumped or fallen out, and found the comforting warmth of his/her brother/sister bird.

There was no sign of the mother bird.

I had once heard that if a human touches a baby bird, the mother bird would smell the human scent, and reject the birds.

I could not let that happen.

As I often ask myself several times a week, What Would Google Do?

I pulled my iPhone out of the pocket of my shorts, tapped the Google search app, and typed in the words, "What do I do if a baby bird falls out of its nest?"

Google, being the all-knowing, wise sage that she is, told me in her most confident tone that the whole notion of the mother bird rejecting the baby bird is an old wives' tale.

It's total hooey, friends.

Then Google went on to say that when a nest falls, the mother bird will be nearby, watching. Which she was. My oldest son and I spotted her across the street, perched on the top of my neighbor's garage, watching us like a hawk.

Pun intended.

Google continued by telling us to pick up the nest, put it in a nearby tree or bush, pick up the baby bird(s) and place them in the nest for the mother to find them.

Google say what?

Have I mentioned that I don't touch birds? That the thought of picking one up - especially a young'in - creeps me out? What with all the wings flapping, and the beaks pecking, and the claws scratching?

Um, no.

Just no, Googs.

I have my limits.

Picking up a screaming, clawing, flailing toddler? Yes. Picking up pecking, clawing, flapping baby bird? No.

Fortunately, I discovered that's what husbands are for.

Among other things.

Bill had absolutely no fear or reservation as he donned a pair of garden gloves, picked up the nest, placed it on top of a low shrub, then picked up one baby bird, placed him in it, and went back to retrieve the sibling.

Truthfully? It was kind of hot. The only thing hotter would have been if he put his arm out and a large falcon came to rest on it.

Rrrrrawr.

I digress.

The next morning we checked on the family, and the mother bird had found her babies and was caring for them. The second sibling, who, had scampered off in fear into a distant shrub at least 15 feet away when Bill had tried to place it in the nest the previous evening, had amazingly managed to find its mother and sibling. The baby birds were huddled together for warmth as the mother watched over them. It was a sight to behold. The family had abandoned their nest for the protection and privacy of a taller bush. I tried to snap a picture of the gorgeousness of it all, but the mother bird flapped her wings at me a few times in warning, and I backed off.

It was at that moment that I found myself completely relating to a sparrow. She is a mother, protecting her young, slowly introducing them to the world.

A mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I know who I am.


The Fun Mom looks around her messy house, surrounded by piles of laundry beckoning to be cleaned, bills waiting to be paid, and dishes to be washed. Instead of succumbing to the chores, she shrugs her shoulders and thinks to herself, “Later. Summer isn't forever.” Then she shouts to her kids, “Let's go to the pool!”

The Cranky Mom feels the familiar tug of a whiny toddler pulling on her leg, begging to be carried. Again. She first ignores, and then she snaps, “Go play! Mommy is busy!” She doesn't mean these words, but she is cranky and overwhelmed, and the Cranky Mom is perpetually in need of a break.

The Overwhelmed Mom is packing for a family road trip, but instead of soaking in the joy of the impending vacation, she yells at her kids to get their stuff together. She moans over piles of laundry that need to be folded and packed. She strives to get the house clean before departing. She breathes fire if a child happens to casually ask her, “Um...Mom? My Nintendo DS is lost. Can you find it for me?”

The Joyful Mom relishes the ordinary. She knows that despite the chaos and the hard days, these precious moments with her children will not last forever. She looks at her family and her heart fills with joy, because life is good. She knows that she is exactly where she is supposed to be at in this moment in time.

The Selfish Mom buys a few boxes of the expensive, organic crackers and granola bars just for herself, and she stores them on the top shelf of the pantry, out of the reach of the grabby hands of her children. She knows that in a family, things are shared, but she this is one time that she is not willing to share. She wants something that belongs only to her.

The Selfless Mom buys a few boxes of the more expensive crackers and granola bars just for herself, and stores them on the top shelf of the pantry, out of the reach of the grabby hands of her children. But she knows her son is worried about a test at school that day, and she wants to make him smile. She writes, "Good luck! I love you! Love, Mom" on a napkin, and tucks it into his lunch box, along with one of "her" coveted granola bars. After all, in a family, things are shared.

The Martyr Mom looks around the messy kitchen and starts filling the dishwasher for the third time in one day. She looks out the window at her husband and children, who are running around the backyard and playing a pick-up game of baseball, and thinks to herself, “Sigh. Poor me. Everyone else gets to have all the fun while I do all the work around here.” She doesn't ask for help, however, because she would rather whine about the unfairness of the situation and carry all the problems of the world on her shoulders.

The Tough Love Mom knows that it is a beautiful, sunny day, and she would love nothing more than to let her children run around outside with their friends for a few hours before dinner. Alas, homework must be completed, and math facts must be practiced, so for now, the outside must wait. Her children whine and cry about her decree, but she sticks to it. She is tough, but loving.

The Nagging Mom asks her children to kindly hang up their backpacks and their coats. Then she asks them again. THEN SHE ASKS THEM AGAIN. THEN SHE ASKS THEM AGAIN. And repeat. She is a broken record that nobody seems to hear.

The Silly Mom cranks up the music on the iPod on the speakers in the kitchen and yells to her family, “DANCE PARTY TIME!” as The Black Eyed Peas remind her to get it started. She gets low. She backs it up. She walks it out. She pops it. She locks it. She shakes what her mama gave her. And her family joins in the fun.

The Worrier Mom bites down on her lip in apprehension after her son begs to ride his bike around the block. She knows her neighborhood is safe. She knows her son is responsible. But he is only 6 years old, and a neighborhood block feels like miles to her. She has visions of men in vans with tinted windows stopping her boy and asking him to help find a lost puppy. She wants to tell her boy, "No," and keep him in her protective fold forever. But she sees the longing independence in his eyes, and instead, a "Yes, but be careful!" escapes her lips. She sits on the front porch and watches her heart ride off down the street and disappear out of sight. She waits. And waits. And waits. In what seems like an eternity later, she spots a smiling 6-year old pedaling toward her. Her fears are allayed. For now.

The Overprotective Mom checks her teenage daughter's Facebook account. She gets to know her son's friends. She asks questions. She requires that bedroom doors remain unlocked. She gets to know the parents of her children's friends. She asks questions. She knows that she is not a friend to her children; rather, she is the mother. She limits computer access for her children. She tells her tweener, "Absolutely not, you may NOT have a cell phone." She asks questions. She knows when to say, "Yes," but she is never afraid to tell her child, "No." She asks questions.

The Patient Mom sits quietly on her 4-year old daughter's bed as her daughter attempts to read her first book. The words struggle to come out of her small mouth as she sounds them out with hesitation: “...aaaannnd...the...dogggg....r..rr...rrr....ran...” The Patient Mom strokes her daughter's hair and offers gentle encouragement, not caring or noticing that it takes her sweet girl almost 10 minutes to read one page. Learning takes time, and the Patient Mom has plenty of it.

The Regretful Mom tosses and turns in her bed one night, unable to sleep because of the negative thoughts and regret that plague her overloaded brain. She remembers the moment during the day when she tripped over yet another shoe that her children forgetfully left on the floor of the kitchen. Again. Overcome with frustration, she shouted at her children, “SERIOUSLY?!? SERIOUSLY?!? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU KIDS?!? HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU TO PUT. YOUR. SHOES. AWAY. ?!?! WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?!?!” Her diatribe continues as she scolds her children on their lack of responsibility, and she yells a little too loudly. She notices the fallen look in their eyes, but plows forward, leaving crying children in her wake. The regret of her tirade washes over her as she lays down to sleep, but sleep doesn't come.

The Proud Mom looks at her children in amazement and thinks, “How is it possible that my husband and I made such amazing human beings?” Her heart soars when she thinks about the people her children are becoming. She knows that despite the tough days and the self-doubt, she is doing something wonderfully right.

The Persistent Mom takes her son to the doctor because she is worried about the behavioral problems that he has been having. The doctor tells her not to worry, and that it's probably just a phase. But her instincts tell her she that it's not. His struggles have been going on for too long for it to be a phase. Her instincts tell her that something is up with her boy, and even if she has to switch doctors, she will find him the help that he needs. She is her child's best advocate.

The Appreciative Mom is on Facebook one evening when she comes across a page for a 6-year old boy suffering from neuroblastoma. His situation is grave, but his parents remain hopeful and prayerful. She offers up two silent prayers: one for the boy and his family, and another in thanksgiving that her own children are healthy. She is mindful of the preciousness of life and health and how fleeting it can be. Suddenly the messy playroom doesn't seem like that big of a deal.

The Busy Mom feels like she sees the inside of her minivan more than she sees the inside of her home. She daydreams of leisurely home-cooked meals with her family gathered around the table as she drives her children to and from yet another practice or lesson.

The Sentimental Mom chokes up when her 6-year old walks through the kindergarten doors by himself. He turns around and waves at her with a huge smile on his face, and not a single tear in his eye. His stature is confident, she knows that he is excited to begin this adventure. He no longer needs her with him every second of every day, and he is craving the independence that a full day at school will bring. The Sentimental Mom wonders at what point her newborn baby turned into this walking, talking, beautiful, independent human being.

Over the years, I have come to realize that I am the Fun Mom. The Cranky Mom. The Overwhelmed Mom. The Joyful Mom. The Selfish Mom. The Selfless Mom. The Martyr Mom. The Nagging Mom. The Tough Love Mom. The Silly Mom. The Worrier Mom. The Overprotective Mom. The Patient Mom. The Regretful Mom. The Proud Mom. The Persistent Mom. The Appreciative Mom. The Busy Mom. The Sentimental Mom.

I am okay with this.

I own it.

I am what I am.

I am all of these, rolled into one person that my children simply call, "Mom".

What I am not?

The Perfect Mom.

The Perfect Mom does not live here. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Oh, it's just me, Mom, the Destroyer of Fun.

I am a dream crusher.

A crusher of dreams, if you will.

A destroyer of fun.

But sometimes it just has to be done.

Some dreams are easier to crush than others.

There was the time I crushed a dream with twelve little words: "No, a pile of Halloween candy would not make an awesome dinner."

Or the time I was all, "Well, just because your brother can bark and get down on all fours, it does not mean he is your pet dog, and no, you cannot put a leash on him."

Or, "I understand that it would be fun to see your sister's Barbie dolls hanging upside down from the ceiling fan and swinging in the wind, but no, you may not have duct tape, string, and the kitchen ladder."

Or, "No, you cannot set up an obstacle course in the basement and charge the neighbor kids a $5.00 admission fee."

I can understand that in the eyes of a shortie, these are all fun dreams. They are a platter of fun, with a side of joy, a salad of tomfoolery, all covered with a large helping of awesome sauce.

But no.

Just no.

Then there are the dreams that I do not crush. For example, my 9-year old son dreams of being a professional golfer-slash-Major League baseball player-slash-research doctor who cures all forms of cancer-slash-video game programmer.

And? In his spare time, he is going to invent iPhone apps.

Also, he informs me that he's going to have a wife and two children. When I asked him why he is so decisive about having two children, he answered, "Well, because if I had four children, then that would just be soooooo busy, Mom. Duh."

Ahem.

Dream the impossible dream, buddy. Far be it for me to crush that stable full of awesome. After all, I hope that for his sake, he keeps dreaming big, and one of those dreams actually comes true for him. (I'm partial to the whole curing-all-forms-of-cancer dream that he has. Moms can dream too.) 

Back to me.

And how I am The Dream Crusher-slash-Destroyer of Fun.

Scratch that.

I am The Corn Dream Crusher.

All four of my children recently attended a wonderful vacation Bible school at our church and came home with seeds planted in small biodegradable containers. "Mom! We're going to be farmers!" they informed me with much enthusiasm as they showed me the seeds they planted, still in their containers, about 3 inches to the left of our front porch. They didn't tell me they were going to plant them, of course, but once I saw it, I had absolutely no problem. It's dirt! It's fun! It's educational! They feel productive! They are not fighting! They have a common goal!

Also? It's not like those seeds will ever grow, right?

How could they grow? During the planting process, the kids had sloshed out half the dirt from the containers, and I'm assuming, most of the seeds. To say that they were, "planted" is a stretch. The containers were mostly just embedded in the mulch next to a row of boxwoods. How could they possibly grow into anything resembling a stalk of corn?

Ahem.


Three out of the four containers are flourishing, friends.

With a flourish.

And within a matter of weeks, I will be able to open my front door and get whacked in the eyeball with a corn husk. Or is it cob?

Whatever. I wouldn't know, because I am not a farmer. I'm just a suburban mom trying to do my thing.

And now? I have a row of corn flourishing inches from my front door, and four happy children who do not want the Destroyer of Fun anywhere near their agricultural wonder.

It's not that I don't want them to be mini farmers who grow their own corn. I am supportive of their goals.

Kind of.

I have suggested moving the corn to a more proper spot in the backyard, an impromptu cornfield if you will, but my suggestion was met with a chorus of shouts and a tear or two, and a, "NO! YOU'RE GONNA KILL ALL THE CORN! LEAVE IT WHERE IT IS! YOU NEVER LET US HAVE ANY FUN!"

Sigh. Playing the role of the bad guy wearies me.

My son pleaded with me that he was actually doing me, "a ginormous favor" by growing our own corn. "Think of all the money you will save mom!"

Yeah. It might save me a WHOLE $2.00, because that's how much 10 cobs of corn cost on a recent trip to the grocery store. Thanks, kids. Now I can upgrade myself to the venti-sized drink at Starbucks.

My heart does not want to crush their latest dream-slash-goal-slash-project.

It was the light in their eyes that got me. They had me at, "Mom! But it's real corn!"

So the corn will stay put for now, and as of this morning they informed me that it has reached 8 inches in height.

Dream uncrushed.

For now.