Mother hen…

This past weekend, our youngest son turned 13. We officially have 2 teenagers in the house. Our worries about nap times and eating vegetables has changed to curfews and preparing them to be on their own. My biggest goal is to make sure they are good humans. Not perfect, free from flaws or mistakes, but nice and kind and compassionate. Unfortunately, that might be why they keep getting repeated lessons about how it feels when someone isn’t nice or kind or compassionate. Will they make mistakes? Yep. Will they make bad choices? Probably. My hope is that they learn from them and make different choices going forward.

My husband said something this weekend that made me stop and think. On our way back up to the house (after working in the garden), I mentioned about how much I love the 10 chickens we have. I also said I was kind of surprised and I had not expected to care for them as much as I do. He didn’t seem shocked at all. “They’re kind of like kids, you know? You get to mother them.” Huh. I’m the mother hen. This made me laugh, but it also made sense. As my kids move towards independence, they need me less. These chickens depend on me for food and water and to keep them safe. I’m not comparing my kids to chickens, and I certainly love my kids more than the birds. It’s just different.

My chickens don’t “bawk” at me posting photos of them. (Ha ha) They don’t care how they look or if a feather is out of place. Nobody will make fun of them. This is Teriyaki in the photo with me. We think she’s a girl but we don’t know for sure. If she starts crowing one day, we will still think “he” is cute and know that he likes clover and loves to sit on your lap.

If you Google “mother hen,” it says:

noun

INFORMAL
  1. a person who sees to the needs of others, especially in a fussy or interfering way.

Yeah, I probably am a mother hen. I guess I will be fussy with my chickens, but I’ll still be interfering with my kids. I’ll interfere enough so they know I care, but not too much to drive them away. I want them to be able to talk to me. I want them to know they are loved. I want them to have fond memories. I want them to remember the summer we got chickens and the chicken cupcakes I made. (Even though the birthday boy asked what they were supposed to be!)

Mother hen, mama bear, mommy shark, mama llama… I’m probably a bit of all of them. My heart expanded to add the chickens, they didn’t replace anything. I’m thankful to get to be a mother. It wasn’t an easy road, and I know there are moms who have lost kids or women who wish to be moms who cannot. It’s a special bond.

God doesn’t “mother hen” us. He isn’t fussy or forceful or interfering. He wants a relationship with us, but many times we are like the teenager, rolling our eyes. Take some time to sit in nature, watch the birds or dragonflies or fireflies and connect back to God. He’s the safe place where you can land. He’s the loving father who knows we still need him, even if we act like we can do it all ourselves.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. I wish you a good summer, and if you see me in person, I’ll probably show you pictures of my chickens.

I can still hear her laugh…

5 years ago last week, my last grandparent passed away… my mom’s mother. My grandma celebrated 95 years on this earth. She was a mother to 10 kids, and a wife to the same man until his death in 2006. I don’t have as many young memories of my grandparents as my sisters do. They are 7 & 9 years older than me and were some of the first grandkids. They remember visits to the farm. I remember a few Christmases there. I remember one Christmas when my younger cousins threw hangers at me in the spare bedroom. My uncle came in to scold them & he was my hero from then on. I remember sleeping in my Crayons sleeping bag by the tree. I remember their big table full of people. I remember the upstairs where my mom and her siblings grew up. I remember the “creepy basement” where my uncles sometimes had fox furs from trapping. I remember that she had a drawer of goodies… candies, marshmallows, chocolate chips etc. It was a drawer the grandkids would sneak a treat from and she’d just wink. And her laugh. I’ll never forget her laugh.

After my grandpa passed away, we were sure she wouldn’t be far behind. They were soul mates. They were the kind of grandparents who held hands and smiled at each other with love. The kind of grandparents you would look at and say, “That’s what I want when I am older.” I want someone to help me up out of my chair, to make sure my favorite treat was in the house and to play cards with me and my widow lady friends. They had a tough life. They lived through the depression. They weren’t rich financially, but they were rich in love. Their family gatherings just kept growing, as more kids were married, added children of their own, and even grandkids. I have over 20 cousins, several of whom are married and have kids of their own. We have a reunion coming up, and we will have almost 90 people attending, and there are 35 who cannot make it.

I think it’s awesome when kids can think of their grandparents and smile. The things they will remember might surprise you. I remember my grandma’s chicken shaped cookie jar but I don’t remember the chickens. I remember her white, curly hair and her crochet angels. I remember when they moved to town and we would play cards in the basement. I remember their big freezer always had ice cream treats. I think of her often, and always with fondness. Even when she would tell goofy stories or not fully know who we were, she was still in there. It was more difficult to see her that way, but when I remember her, I remember the fun little things.

I hope it’s that same way for me someday. I hope someday I’ll have grandkids (but not for a while). I hope I’ll be goofy and fun and do the things I wished I would have done with my kids… play more games, eat dessert first, laugh more. Maybe they’ll remember my curly hair, or my treat drawer (just like my grandma Lil’s). On your journey of enough, I hope you have some warm memories to make you smile. I still can get my grandma’s laugh, 5 years after she passed. Hold onto the good memories. Listen in the silence for the laughter of your loved ones. They’d love to hear you laugh too!

Chicken doodles…

These are our 10 baby chickens. We got them the end of May. This is our first time having chickens. Prior to moving to Minnesota, the only pets we ever had were gold fish and beta fish. We’ve added a cat and now 10 chickens (we had a little turtle for a while but he didn’t make it.) We kept the chicks in the garage until it warmed up a little more and they could be in their outside coop. This made for an interesting situation with the cat…

It’s actually been better than I thought. The cat has not tried to eat the chickens. He leaves them alone most of the time. Occasionally, he will stare at them from his perch. He has been a little jealous of his chicken garage mates. “Why are they so cute? Why do they get a xylophone?”

They’ve grown so much in just a few weeks. Now they are in their outside coop with a little area to run in the daytime. We are still learning more about them. Now the cat kind of ignores the chickens if he’s outside. They all have names and one was named by my aunt in Texas. (Their names are Hawk, Butterscotch, Daisy, Henrietta, Col.Sanders, Cluck Norris, Sesame, Teryaki, Noodle and Fancy Pants)

I never knew they would have neat personalities. I worry about them when it storms. I know which ones like to eat out of your hand and which ones like to sit on your lap. They are softer than I could have imagined.

Why chickens?

  • We have the land/area for it.
  • We only have 1 neighbor.
  • They eat bugs.
  • I’ve always wanted to raise chickens.
  • We will know what’s in their feed and will have eggs in a few months.
  • I think it’s a good thing to be able to raise and care for an animal.
  • It teaches compassion and responsibility.
  • They make me feel young.

I never imagined my journey would include chickens. My dad thinks I’m silly. (Often reminds me of how cheap eggs are in the store) One of my sisters is not a fan of birds in general, but she is happy for me. My point in sharing my chicken story? Be open to new possibilities… it may just open your heart. I’m excited for all we will learn from our back yard chicken doodles. What new thing will you invite into your life?

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. If chicken xylophones make you laugh, go for it. Life’s short… make it an adventure!

So many journeys…

Graduations and weddings… the season for both has begun. While some colleges graduate in May, many high schools in this area are just graduating now. I’m 2 years away from having a high school graduate. I feel like I will be prepared in a logistical/planning sense for a graduation party. I’m sure there will be lists involved, a spreadsheet or two, and a “honey-do” of projects to complete before we have a house full of grad party guests. I guess it doesn’t happen everywhere, but in the upper Midwest, high school graduation parties are a big deal. People paint their houses, remodel parts of their kitchen, spend hours cleaning and organizing and get enough food ready for hundreds of guests. Most of these people won’t be familiar with my house, so they won’t know if I repainted or fixed something up. Quite frankly, if they are there to judge my house, they shouldn’t have come. I hope they will be there to support our son or be there for us. I want to make sure he’s ready for his journey and has people who truly care about him and support him. When I graduated high school, almost everyone in my class went to college. It was just what you were “supposed” to do. It is far more common now to have high school graduates going to a trade school or into the military or right into the work force. Everyone’s journey is different & we need all kinds of skills and trades.

Wedding season has also begun (at least up here where it gets super cold in the winter). I spent part of the weekend with my oldest niece, who is getting married at the end of June. She will start her journey of marriage and moving to a new state. We had a little bachelorette party to celebrate with her. What advice would I give her? I’m not sure I listened to much wedding advice before I was married, but there are some things I’ve held onto over the last (almost) 24 years of marriage:

  • Never go to bed angry. This is difficult some days, but I do think it’s important.
  • Be on the same page about the “big” things in your life… values, family, religion, etc.
  • Respect each other.
  • Laugh together.
  • Spend time together & really get to know each other.
  • Love each other – say it and show it.
  • Take the trips. Big or small, you will not regret taking trips together.
  • Enjoy the journey.

One day, you will wake up and 24 years will have flown by. You’ll both have grey hair (his will look distinguished and yours might be hidden by some color). Your size and shape won’t be what it used to be. Your 2-3 tiny humans will be as tall as you. Hopefully, your love will remain strong and you can think back to these days before your wedding and remember how madly in love you were. And you’ll smile because you would still chose each other all over again.

If you’re graduating, having a graduate, getting married or having kids getting married, I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you enjoy your journey, soak up the experiences and laugh along the way.