“Chickens?” I whined. “But I don’t want chickens! I want goats for my first farm animal!”
“Just trust me,” my husband replied with that stupid smirk he gets when he just knows he’s about to be proven right.
So, attitude in tow, I stomped to the back of his truck to look at the stupid chickens he had just brought home. They looked like chickens—everyday, ordinary chickens. I really didn’t know what all the fuss was about.
“I was only able to get three pullets,” he said. “They’re about 4 weeks old or so.” I had no idea what the heck a pullet was, but I wasn’t about to ask.
For months, he’d been getting up every Saturday before 6 a.m. to go to various chicken swaps, and for months, I’d been mocking him from the comfort of my pillow-top mattress and down comforter. “You’re crazy!” had become my weekly send-off as I snuggled back into dreamland. This particular morning had been no different except he had said something about it being the big one. Obviously, he found what he’d been looking for because here we were at 8 a.m. staring into a box of stupid birds.
“I need coffee,” was all I could say, as I stomped back to the house.
Over the next several weeks, more of the chicken responsibilities fell into my lap: Keep them warm, watered, fed, blah-blah-blah. As my time in the coop area increased, I started to notice the “birds” actually had little personalities. They were still stupid, I thought, but cute. They were staying in a large rabbit cage with flip lid until they were big enough to scratch around or the fencing in the chicken yard was completed—whichever came first. Two of the girls I had named Henney and Penney because every time I lifted the lid, they momentarily flipped out as if waiting for the sky to fall. Weeks later, I named the third chicken Miss Cluck because, well, she was the first one to cluck. Of course, by then I had officially become an obsessed chicken lover.
By the time “my girls” were 15 or 16 weeks old, I knew Henney was going to be my Momma chicken. She had already become head hen and was quickly training the roo we had recently acquired. She was bossy—bitchy even—but very protective. Sure enough, she was the first to lay, the first to go broody, and has successfully hatched and raised dozens of chicks, as well as the occasional duck. It seems crazy that I would ever envy a chicken, but sometimes I do. I knew she was a born mother; that was not always the case for me.
It wasn’t that I was ever opposed to having children; I was just overwhelmed by the idea of raising “productive members of society.” But when I first laid eyes on Spencer, my first-born son, all my fears of being a mom seemed to fade away. Here was this beautiful baby boy swaddled in his blanket staring up at me as I counted his precious fingers and toes. That moment was just that: a moment. Right then, mere minutes after his arrival, he started to cry, and did not stop for 6 full months! Oh, I loved my baby boy, but I sure didn’t like him much in those early days!
Over the last 18 years, Spencer, dubbed my “practice child,” has made me laugh the loudest and cry the hardest. As a tot, he nearly succeeded in setting my kitchen on fire. As a child, he thought I was supposed to deliver his brother in a box in the garage like the cats did. As a teen, he is constantly using terms like “you don’t understand” and “back in your day.” (Apparently middle age means stupid in teen-a-pedia) Yet when I don’t want to strangle him, I want to put my arms around him and never let go.
Somewhere along the line I became a mom. Not just a mother, but a mom. And now I could not imagine a life without children. As much as I enjoy the very rare night away, I couldn’t envision a day without their jelly-covered faces. Yet, I am only months away from just that. Next fall, Spencer will be heading off to college eight hours away, and suddenly the colic, the terrible twos, the treacherous teens, the stretch marks and the buckets of tears (mine, not his) seem irrelevant.
As we all know Thursday is a day of thanks in which we are supposed to say out loud all the things we are grateful for, but I don’t want to wait until Thursday. Today, I am so very thankful that I don’t always have the answers. Today I am so very thankful for the opportunities I have had over the years to come out of my comfort zone. Today I am thankful for God’s perfect timing. Today I am thankful to have fresh eggs for my children and a large healthy flock that will continue to provide for my family. And today my Henney is really thankful she is not a turkey! (Oh come on, don’t tell me you didn’t see that one coming from a mile away!)