Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Clean underpants syndrome
And what mothers and daughters can learn from chickens and sheep...
My mother is visiting for two weeks from Minneapolis. Having your grown mother [or "ripened" as she now calls herself] in your own grown house is nice...but crowded. I know most of you know what I mean - no matter if you're the visiting mother, or the hostess daughter. No matter what the mother-daughter relationship might be, someone's wings always feel a bit clipped. I feel a bit like a little hen that went off to the woods, discovered a forest all on my own where my eggs came out gold, and I rush back to the hen house to tell everyone of my discovery, which I found all on my own. But my mother hen shows up and say, "Oh that's nice, dear. Do you have any cream? And can we turn the heat up."
Am I complaining? No. Do I love my mother? Yes. Did I have a nice, wonderful child hood? Absolutely. I kept salamanders in my bed, wore red rubber boots at all costs, and hummed alot. But I was always snorting around in the woods, creating my own worlds, where I could think on my own. Preparing for my eventual golden egg journey. There were a lot of "You're so emotional" comments. Or, "You're just too sensitive for your own good." After a time of hearing such comments, a little creature can only believe "Hmmm, they're right, I am. I must be a freak or they wouldn't keep bringing it up." I was unable to comprehend at that young age how that same emotion would someday make my eggs so golden.
My mother came out at breakfast time yesterday, announcing there were so many spiders in her guest bathroom, so she killed them all. Of course she thought this was what any proper guest would do.
"What?! Not the Daddy Long Legs! They were a family!" I said.
"But you killed that spider on the couch last night!" my mother exclaimed.
"I didn't know him, and he wasn't a Guinevere spider."
"What is a Guinevere spider?" my mother asked.
"All the Daddy Long Legs, no matter what sex, are Guineveres. All those flat brown bugs are Ernies..."
"So what are the big giant brown spiders named, like the one on the couch you killed?" my mother asked.
"Like I said, I don't know him, or his name."
"But you killed him." she said.
"I know, and it was an overreaction on my part to his natural spider need to climb under the blanket."
Eyes roll from both females.
Human mothers seem to come in all sorts of ability levels, but the chicken mothers always seem to have a good system of teaching the basics: stay under my wing until you can fly, water keeps you alive, lay an egg but don't get to attached to the outcome, and for heaven's sakes "If you see a camera, make sure you have on clean underpants."
As I did barn chores this morning , I thought of our head ewe Rosie, our first sheep who tragically died last spring. When Rosie came to our farm she came with her daughter Daisy, who is still with us. Daisy spent every day of her life with her mother. When Rosie died, I thought Daisy might take over as head ewe, now that she had seniority in the flock. But she didn't. Always in the confidant shadow of Rosie, she never learned to be a head ewe, she didn't need to be, or didn't have space to be.
So mothers, when you visit your grown daughters who have now become head ewes, with shelves lined with golden eggs, best to just stand to the side a bit. This way you can admire your creation, and have a good vantage point if you see a head butt coming your way.