Today I am participating in Sarah Bessey’s Sychroblog, because she’s asking a desperately needed Question. If you don’t read her blog, please do, it’s quenching and beautiful.
What’s Saving Your Life Right Now?
My daughter Noelle is going through a perfectly lovely pretend phase. She is always a baby animal and I’m the mama. Tonight I was mama chicken and earlier this afternoon I was mama bird.
This week alone I’ve been mama piglet, mama puppy and mama kitty, but mostly mama chicken.
She calls for me “MAMA CHICKEN?!?” When she doesn’t want to stay in bed and when she needs me to wipe her on the toilet. I makes me smirk every time, mama chicken, really?
As Noelle runs around like a baby chick, my son learns the word “NO!” and he uses it, again and again and again. When I try to gather him up to kiss his baby skin he squirms and screams “NO!” When I offer him his favorite food he throws it against the wall, “NO!” “NO!” “NO!”
When I try to change his diapers the squirming “NO!” chorus continues and I glance at the clock wondering how I am going to manage to entertain them for another 7 hours by myself with nowhere to go. Can it really only be 9:42? What the junk is wrong with our clock!?!?
And then Noelle runs in with her pink cape! “Mama Chicken! The baby chicken needs you to help build her nest!”
Suddenly I breathe deep in spite of the summer dryness and I become the mama chicken, strutting proud with yellow feathers. I chase after her and lift them both up into our bed as we gather the pillows into a circle and settle in the coolness of the ceiling fan. As my children still for a few moments I read about Toot and Puddle and Curious George.
This is the same bed that’s been bringing the nightmares lately. The ones where they fall and drown and run in front of cars.
God how I want to be the mama chicken and gather them under me tightly forever. How often I pray with words not fully formed that God will give me some sort of guarantee that they’ll live strong and free and decades longer than I do.
All us mama chickens want that don’t we? But it’s not going to come, this absolution, no matter how we beg, and I beg…
So, in the midst of the summer heat and the nightmares this cool nest of pillows is saving my life. This reminder that this nesting time isn’t forever and that time isn’t a guarantee. Mama chicken and her chicks won’t gather skin to skin for too much longer, baby birds always fly the coop eventually, and they’re supposed to, and I want that, truly.
They will fly and my nest will finally be quiet, too quiet. I know all the older hens tell us constantly to cherish it but it’s not as easy as words. The poop seems endless, both realistically and figuratively. There is peanut butter on my walls and crayon on the back of the couch, they take turns getting up every few hours, I’m so tired.
Yet, this nest imagery, the constant reminder that this house which often feels like a trap is a truly soft place to roost. The vivid imagery that these tired arms are the wings that today can gather them tight and close.
I am the Mama Chicken, and so we will read another book and do the chicken dance and this nest, this pretending this peace with the no guarantees is saving my life.