Monday, May 13, 2013

For the Mommas, no matter how they're made

A few weeks ago (3 weeks to be precise), Adam came bursting in the backdoor, literally pumping his fist in the air. Only mildly surprised by his semi-uncharacteristic outburst, I glance up from my book long enough to ask what he is so excited about. Vague hopes surrounding lotteries won or exciting news involving cheese dip flash through my head.

Domino has gone broody! He practically shouts. I look at him quizzically, my eyebrows raised beneath eyes which I may or may not have rolled.

A day later he comes in smelling of dirt from digging in the garden, and gives me a bear hug while chattering with the news that Peep, too has “gone broody.” Finally, I ask him what in-the-sam-hill that even means. He explains that two of our five chickens have begun sitting on their eggs, convinced they will hatch, even going so far as to pluck feathers from their own chest in order to keep the eggs warm. I wonder aloud if Adam should sit them down for a talk about the birds-and-the-bees, considering our particular chicken coop lacks an important element in the whole hatching-eggs equation, namely the rooster. Adam excitedly explains that we will be getting a shipment of two new chicks in three weeks, exactly the amount of time it would take eggs to hatch. If all goes according to Adam’s grand-master-plan, the chicks will arrive just in time to be slipped inconspicuously under his broody hens’ bellies, where they will be adopted and he will be left with none of the work of raising chicks that he undertook on the last time around.

I am skeptical of the whole plan, especially considering the chicks on their way to our doorstep are an entirely different breed of chickens than Domino and Peep. But, who knows really, since the ladies are currently sitting on unfertilized eggs in hopes of hatching them.

A few days ago, our teeny-tiny baby chicks are left on our doorstep in a small hole-ridden cardboard box, which emits loud cheeps and excites both Caden and Maverick to nearly fever-pitch. I am surprised by how adorable they are, especially the one with the mini-mohawk and soft yellow fluff. I hold it (the first of our chickens I’ve ever held. I know, I’m ridiculous). And I feel jumpy about his tiny feet pricking my skin and his little wings stretched out. One of the boys asks me if I’m afraid of the flappers. Yes, yes a little, I admit, even though this particular “flapper” is only approximately three inches high. That night, Adam gathers the chicks and says he is taking them out to the coop.

He gently cups the two baby chicks, and slides one under Domino’s black and white speckled belly. The yellow mohawked one he pushes carefully beneath Peep’s brown feathers. The ladies begin clucking excitedly, which is adorable really, even for a decidedly non-chicken-fan like me. A few hours later, Adam tiptoes back up to the bright blue coop, and slowly lifts the lid to find the chicks sound asleep beneath their new momma’s wings. Their quiet unnerves them, so he reaches beneath the feathers and the chicks begin their cheeping as they sleepily emerge. Domino clucks nervously and gently tries to nudge her chick back under her belly. When the chick refuses to budge, she gathers her wings, and spins on her spindly chicken legs before settling herself squarely on top of the tiny chick. The bald spot she has plucked on her underside nuzzles next to the chick’s downy coat, and in a touching display for the importance of skin-to-skin contact, the chick cheeps contentedly before settling back into sleep.
The whole thing strikes me as both hilarious and beautiful, proof that mothers can be made in more ways than one.

Mother’s day dawned yesterday after a quick trip to North Carolina, in which the children apparently took a vow of not-sleeping. I found myself making pancakes for approximately ten children, sighing loudly at the unfairness of it all, snapping at the kids when they disagreed, and chasing Caden down to try unsuccessfully to pull his church shoes onto his busy feet. He ended up barefoot at church, and I didn't even get a slice of the delicious coffee cake Grandma Mary sent home with us.

During worship, I find myself in the bathroom stall of the school-we-make-church-on-Sunday-mornings, tears rivulet down my cheek and I try to decipher the scrawled epithets of the middle school variety scrawled on the stall door. I squint to read of who-loves-and-who-hates-who, distracting myself from the vague and unsettled disappointment I feel at myself and the mother’s day expectations I didn’t even know I had. I hear a familiar sniffling from the stall next to me, and I finger the velvet petals of the red rose that declares me mother, wondering if perhaps her tears mirror mine for reasons all her own. And I am reminded again that mothers can be made in more ways than one.

God’s grace lavishes on a day that bustles and rubs, and one of the boys gets a rose for the mom in front of us who scurries out the back door with her son kicking and screaming, her face an apologetic grimace. I try to send telepathic waves of sympathy and understanding and I settle for the rose he lays in her seat, before deciding not to wake the other boys because at least they’re quiet.

We declare today a do-over, and I’m eating homemade pancakes and strawberries in bed, shooing children out occasionally who come in to “throw me a hug” or request more strawberries. Granted, there have already been three knocks on our door for forgotten homework and missed buses, and sometimes motherhood looks nothing like we imagined.

Today, the do-over-mother’s-day, I am thankful for the grace He lavishes over all us mothers. The ones who cry in school-turned-church-bathroom-stalls. The ones who pluck their own feathers, painfully making a warm and safe place for babies to snuggle. Those who have more children than they imagined or hoped for, and the ones who ache to hold a baby in their arms. The ones whom motherhood was foisted upon, and the ones aren’t really sure they even want the title. The fifteen year old momma whose water broke in class, who now holds her son as he grows impossibly big in her own small arms.

The one who paints unfurling flowers and thinks of the baby once growing in her womb. The one who has lost, and the one who every month swells in hope and anticipation, only to find herself wondering if there’s a God who always picks someone else. The one who stands for hours juicing carrots to nourish a boy who cant eat. And the one who counts breaths and heartbeats of a son born with a broken heart. She who sits helpless beside a hospital bed, and she who unclenched her fingers and courageously gives her baby to be raised by another. The ones who just know they were made to be mothers, and the ones who aren’t so sure.

I remember today that there are more than one ways to make a mother, and none of us are doing it perfect. So we will love our giggly-messy-babies who make sock puppets of tights in the middle of my pancake-breakfast-in-bed. We will love them fierce and big and sometimes we will love them small and shaky. But love we will, because that’s what mommas do, no matter how they’re made.


  1. beautifully said, as usual. Love, too, that God affords us do-overs. Hope yours was fun!

  2. This was one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. I have tears streaming down my face. I am a Mama of a living babe and a lost babe. Everything you said was bigger than the words themselves. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  4. I'm catching up on your blog ... can you tell? :)

    This might be one of my most favorite things you've written. Ever. Absolutely beautiful, my friend!

    When I was a little girl, I had a pet chihuahua who once nursed a litter of abandoned kittens. I've always thought about how funny and strange that was - until I became a Mama. It seems that's all my sweet little dog wanted to be, too.

    I just love you, Becca!

  5. Oh wow. This is more beautiful than anything I could say. SO amazing, friend.


  6. I tried twice to post a comment when I read this, but I couldn't do it from my phone. I was on the subway when I read this and I was trying to pretend I had allergies because I was crying the big cry.

    Beautiful. Thank you.


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