Friday, May 7, 2010

Farm Mothers

Today I celebrate mothers.

You might think that I’m talking about the mother’s who resided on Neff Road. Well, I am, but probably not who you think. Yes, the neighbors on Neff Road were my ‘mothers’. The women who attended Painter Creek Church were my ‘mothers’. My mother was my mother. And my aunts and my sisters are my ‘mothers’.

There are many definitions for Mother. All of the above women were there to nurture me throughout my lifetime. They gave me the pieces I needed of me that I could not find always within my own home. They were my friends, my mentors, my support and always available to me. But still these are not the mothers for today’s blog. No. This is about the other mothers.

I remember asking mom questions about sex when I was child. She told me to go to the field and watch the cows. Well, hm. It was an answer I guess. So Brenda and I took to the fields.

We watched many a calf enter the world. The mother struggles to deliver a huge baby. She licks away the signs of birthing then urging the newborn to stand. We sat in awe watching the mother bring her baby into the world, encourage it to survive and munch on grass as the babe nurses. A tabloid played out for two young girls.

The old ewe had struggled for a very long time to push the lamb into the world. Aunt Alma and we girls could do nothing to help her so called for Hollie to aid this old sheep. The baby came, but for the old ewe, the struggle continued, and she died. She gave her strength, she gave her life for the sweet wooly baby.

The blue egg shell lies broken at the bottom of the tree. A baby bird is hatched. Before long it will be big enough to leave the nest. The mother robin will encourage it to try its wings. A nudge will teach it to fly away from home.

She hid her babies. Even though she was a friend, this pet of mine, she would not let me see her newborn babies. Brenda and I would searched days on end to find the kittens. And when we did, the mama cat would grasp the fur behind their tiny heads in her mouth and would carry them to a new hiding place.

We saw the minnows in the creek. The little slivery creatures would swim in a school hoping to avoid predators looking for lunch. To the side, black tadpoles with their fat heads would join in the hiding game. It was the way in the creek. The way that babies survived a motherless world.

Judy had her pups in Brenda’s barn. The row of wiggling hairless babies vied for place to eat as the crawled and tumbled with their eyes still shut. They tumbled over bare legs of little girls and whimpered in tiny doggy sounds.

Brenda and I went to the field to learn about life. We learned about birthing, about death, about protecting, about nurturing. Those farm mothers answered my questions and taught me much. Perhaps I am a better mother because of them. I often think of the killdeer mother who will feign injury to draw a prey away from her babies. She risked her life that her babies might have a chance as they lie hidden in the tall grass. Yes, I learned of sacrifice as well.

Today I embrace those mothers and thank my mother for sending me to the field.

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