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New Mama

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We call her Naked Neck. Everyone that sees her says, “What’s wrong with that one?”

I have nine chickens and she is the smartest of them all. One of my huge white chickens, Big Mama, was sitting on a pile of 6 eggs for about a week. Next time I went to the coop, Naked Neck was sitting on the eggs. I don’t know how she worked her way into this position. Big Mama was sitting on 2 eggs in the next box. Trickery? Negotiation? Did I say she was smart? No bird-brain here. It seemed this faithful little mama never moved. Every time I was in the coop she was in the same position, night or day.

I was borrowing the space where my chickens were living and I had to move them to my own coop when it was ready. Big Mama had her 2 chicks. I moved the rest and saved Naked Neck and Big Mama for last, not wanting to stress them and the babies out. The moving deadline was fast approaching. I moved Big Mama with the 2 chicks and she took a licking, even though it was just a few days since all the hens were one happy family before being separated, and she’d been high in the pecking order. I was nervous about moving Naked Neck, suspecting the other chickens would attack her and that she would be more vulnerable while defending her chicks or eggs.

Not only was I  unsure how Naked Neck would take to sitting on her eggs in a new location, my mother’s intuition told me they would hatch any day. The final day came and I had to do the dastardly deed. At that point I didn’t even know how long she’d been sitting on that pile. Seemed like 6 months to me. Chicks hatch in 3 weeks. I’m the genius that had no idea when my own babies’ conception or due dates were. I’d looked at the calendar and made very wild guesses. They came sooner or later, though I could swear one was way over-cooked. I’m not saying which one.

The Rancher and I wondered if the eggs were duds and she was just wasting her time. So he judiciously grabbed one of the eggs and cracked it open. Dag-nab-it! There sat a fully developed chick ready to hatch any time. I wanted to kick rocks but there were none in sight. So painful, too late.

He gently picked mama up despite her protests. There, under her, were 8 eggs and the tiniest chick I ever saw!

No sooner did we settle her into the new coop than she scattered her eggs all over the place and proceeded to follow her meandering baby around. It was a frigid morning so El Ranchero collected the eggs and promptly set them in an incubator to maintain their temperature and hopefully bring them to term. 2 days later, a loud little peep-squeak hopped out of its shell in the incubator, stuck her head way up in an attempted stand and yelled, “Are you my mama?” She flopped over right away. Now what were we going to do? I wasn’t going to have chicks in my house again after last spring.

HE had set them up in MY closet claiming it was their best chance at making it. MY closet. In no time, they stunk to high heaven. I mean odious. In MY closet. I decided there and then not to get attached to the little loud tyke as his chances of a long fulfilling life were nil if it had anything to do with my closet.

The Rancher came to the rescue again. He took the little thing and set it under Naked Neck. Mama walked away and hunkered down on the first chick. The Rancher set the newbie under her again. And again. He’s a stubborn one and she’s a smart one so she let the little squatter in after a few more tries. They were a happy little family.

2 days ago, another little dinosaur hatched. Man they are loud. It was a mini-naked neck and the cutest thing ever!

No closet!

I knew we were pushing our luck with the little yellow guy since it had been several days but I marched it to the coop. I hoped mum would recognize herself in it till I realized she probably had never seen herself. Hmm. The new chick instantly started following Big White Mama.

Big Mama was having none of it. She pecked hard at the chick which was the size of her own head. I shooed her away, indignant, and she flew across the coop. Little Naked took off after her. This wasn’t good. I scooped her up and followed Naked Neck. Mhhh… How to approach? Was this going to be a rear or front entry? I thought rear would be safer for me. Mama scooted away with her two babies in tow. She then hunkered down and I ushered Naked Necklet in. Mama scooted away again. Oh dear. This was a creature only a mother could love and here was mama rejecting her own ugly likeness.

5 tries later, Necklet marched right in and did whatever they do under there. Success!

Later in the day I paid them a courtesy call to see how things were going. I took the picture above – and look, there’s Big Foot in the background in his typical pose, except he’s normally going the other way! Necklet is all fluffy and happy on the left, she is saying, “I found my mama!” She keeps casting longing glances at Big Mama but I suspect that will abate with time. Maybe she can have aunty time down the road.

I have six more eggs in the incubator. I don’t know how much more of this Naked Neck with tolerate but I’ll keep trying. She is being awfully gracious considering I don’t know what I would have done if people kept sneaking me new-born infants just because I had just had one and was in the mode.

If all else fails, I hear there is a recipe out there for fully developed chicks in the egg. Hmm…

 

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This guy was hatched this morning!

 

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Anxiety · Christian · culture · Family · Kids · mothers · Musings · Parenting · Relationships · sad · Single mother · Single parenting · Spiritual

I Don’t Need You

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“How do you do it?” her new friend gasped incredulously. My kid sister Jackie was at a children’s birthday party and had just shared that she was a single mum.

She got this reaction almost every time.

This time an extraordinary sense of ownership welled inside her. “I do it just fine with the Lord.” She knew this wasn’t a fashionable statement but it slipped right out of her mouth before she could stop it. She felt strangely galvanized inside and her chest puffed out slightly.

Kayla was seven now. She was the hardest yet the best thing that had ever happened to Jackie. Kayla’s dad walked out on them when she was about two. To be honest, Jackie can’t imagine what life would be like with him around. My heart warms every time I observe these two for any length of time and I marvel at what a fool he was to have walked out on this.

I love the amazing and simple life they’ve created for themselves. Jackie works a few days a week as a therapist. She walks Kayla to school in the mornings and they chat about wanting a cat, the naughty boys at school, anxiety about going to the doctor for shots, and everything in between.

Especially earlier on, Jackie’s life was peppered with regrets wishing life had played out differently. She’d known all along he wasn’t great marriage material but had mercurial hopes of some future together. News of Kayla’s very presence in the universe had rocked Jackie’s world and filled her with dread. This was not her plan. She could terminate the pregnancy and continue her life like nothing had ever happened. No one would ever need to know.

I distinctly remember her phone call to me shortly after she found out. I was crestfallen and lost for words to respond to her announcement. We had an unspoken pact that we’d save ourselves for marriage. I couldn’t imagine the angst this was causing her. She was the youngest of  seven siblings and with humility, boldness, and dignity, she called every member of our family to tell them. She called her pastor and told him. She went before her church and told them. She was embraced with the associated grief and swallowed up with love and acceptance. She was overwhelmed with the love of God’s family. I couldn’t have been more proud of her, worlds away. It tore me up that I couldn’t even hug her or hold her beautiful face.

I ate up pictures she sent of herself as her bump progressed. She was gorgeous. And afraid. And sad. And excited. And oh, so remorseful. This was not what she wanted…

The first year was a blur. She had a horrendous birthing experience. Then Kayla had to go to her dad’s house for visits every other weekend. How Jackie dreaded that. She sent her off with instructions to him. And clothes. And food. “Here’s some pain medicine, she’s teething so she needs it every 3 hours. And don’t forget to use the barrier cream. She had a terrible rash last time.”

He was a man of very few words but was he even listening? She paced her house the whole time her baby was gone. She cried herself to sleep and awoke ten times before morning dawned. Why wasn’t he answering his phone? Was he with his drinking buddies again? She was ready to pull her hair.

Jackie would sob with relief when they finally got back. She kissed her chubby cheeks with a million teary kisses and held her close, thinking her heart would burst. She hated that, subconsciously, she would start the dreaded countdown till Kayla would leave again. Within a few months Kayla would actually cry for him when he dropped her off. Jackie didn’t know what to do with that. Fortunately, she was easy to redirect. Still, with consternation, she would open the diaper bag and find that things she’d carefully packed away and given instructions on, were untouched. It made her want to shake him.

And then one day he fell off the face of the earth. No call, no words, no goodbye. She heard that he had left the country and wasn’t coming back. She wanted to dance with glee. Then a new grief hit her: the loss of a dream. That can strangle one as mercilessly as the death of a loved one.

She ploughed through the banal experience of child-raising. It was peppered with constant reminders that she was alone. There were more blatant aspects like buying a piece of property and building a home: every signing appointment, every minute detail regarding the home – from qualifying for a loan to choosing counter tops, roofing, doorknobs, lighting, flooring. It would have been so helpful to have someone to run decisions by.

They talked about him now and again. Kayla asked where he was and when he’d be coming back. She asked if it was anything she had done. She wondered if he thought of them. “Will I be the only girl in the world without a daddy?” She would sob and disconsolately throw herself on her bed. Jackie answered her questions gently, thoughtfully, honestly.

She perpetually found herself having to explain, in one circle or another, that he wasn’t in the picture. Always, an awkward silence ensued along with an attempt on her part or the other person’s to recover some semblance of dignity.

Jackie snapped back to attention as the herd of screaming party goers stampeded into the room to open presents and sing Happy Birthday. She smiled through the whole affair as, almost beholding on a screen, she reviewed how good God had been to her despite immense hardships. He had seen her through. And that beautifully!

He HAD met her every need. He had helped her overcome the poignancy of her wants that He didn’t fulfill. He had housed them, healed them, provided for them. He had protected them, comforted them, delighted them. God had done more than Kayla’s dad could ever have done had he stayed in the picture. Of course she longed for a physical consort, a life partner. Someone to laugh with and encourage her. Someone to help her discipline and train this handful of a child.

But she solidly learned that she had all that and more. All her fountains were in Him, Psalm 87:7. He was a fountain of constant cleansing; a fountain of refreshment that slaked her every thirst; He astounded her when He thundered like the Niagara with power in her life; He delighted her when He filled her and her daughter with levity and delight in life.

She determined that she would raise her daughter to know that she had a Father who loved her more than anything. She had an identity and a family. She was whole and lovable, incredibly made, wanted and chosen before she was delicately knit together in her mother’s womb. She was pursued and desired, cared for, and delighted in just as she is.

Always. Tenaciously. Unconditionally. Loyally.

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