I started my chores wearing my spirit animal, the turtle, to remind me to take it slow and steady today. I’ll let the audience decide how THAT went…
One of my dogs had a vet appointment (well check) today. While I was paying, the vet stuck her head out and said “I don’t suppose you’d be willing to take a duck home with you ? Someone brought a Muscovy duck (full grown, female) in injured that they found a few days ago. She’s healthy and just needs a home. “
I kept signing, didn’t look up and said “sure.” They said “Do you want to take a look first?”
I never looked up, I just said “Nah. We all know I’m taking her home no matter what she looks like. “
They carried out a cardboard box taped across the top and asked “are you sure? You haven’t seen her.” I waved it off as I grabbed the box against my hip, papers tucked under my arm, a dog on a leash in my other hand and keys dangling from my teeth and schlepped everyone out to my car.
My only requirements are ‘does this creature need a home?’ and ‘how soon will hubby notice another critter following the feed bucket with the others in the morning?’ Beyond that, it’s a safe bet it’s coming home with me.
I sent a picture of the sealed box to Dale and told him “I had to spend all your money on vet bills, so happy birthday (his birthday is Saturday), I got you a used duck.”
So now I have a used duck in the kitchen, hissing at bunny who is eating his feelings at a buffet of dog food bowls because the hissing duck won’t let him go past to his hutch, and the dogs when they come close for a curious sniff. The used duck keeps trying to fly out the kitchen window.
I’m giving her an hour to settle down and feel safe before I take her out to the Coop. I’ll keep her cooped up for about a week (gives her time to finish healingabd acclimate), then open the door and let her decide if she wants to stay. At least I’ll know she feel safe and has food and water.
I stepped out to pick up a kid from classes and came into an empty kitchen, and open empty box, and no sign of the duck or any one else. All I could think of was “Goddamnit! That duck is on the loose somewhere in this house and the kids aren’t even watching!!!”
But then I heard muffled guitar music and followed it into the bathroom where I found Caleb, perched on the toilet playing gentle guitar music for the new used duck, now swimming in my bathtub and looking very zen. Caleb….that kid is a duck whisperer and a sweet soul. My bathroom is a disaster. But the duck seems chill.
Dale arrived home, delighted with his used birthday duck, and snuggled her contentedly (after chasing it upstairs and back down stairs mind you). She’s now out in the coop, chilling with the chickens, a pool to swim in, piles of food, and doing well.
Yes. We definitely are that family. I wouldn’t have it any other way. And now to assign cleaning the house to various children and spouse while I collapse into a soft blanket and hug my favorite bucket. Day two recovery on the books, Ellie style!
Anesthesia is both my favorite friend and worst enemy. I’m nauseous. Everywhere. Even my curls are nauseous. Inside my body it’s like standing on the deck of a ship in a storm and I definitely don’t have sea legs.
I love bright colors but green is not my BEST color and It’ll take a few days to get the meds out of my system. Each day will be better. So I hug a couch and try not to shout groceries at the walls (my favorite descriptive euphemism for vomiting), hug my dogs, cuddle chicks, and sleep packed in ice.
Even my funny bone is nauseous but I’m still gonna crack jokes because this is still better than lots get to feel and this too shall pass. Crossing fingers and hoping like hell the seasickness patches dotting my neck, and the Zofran I swallowed will keep the Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream Lucy brought home for me from passing my lips twice too.
Just you watch me. I’ll be up and swinging at the world before long. I’ll start slow, and work my way up to less slow. I’ll do my end zone dance around telephone poles, walking further and faster and freer.
I never liked my eyebrows or my nose when I was a kid. It was a time in society you just didn’t see representations of me in magazines or on TV. I wanted to look just like the California gold standard that graced every cover, commercial and lead role.
No matter how hard I plucked and tweezed and tried to contour my very Middle Eastern features to more closely resemble the blonde blue eyed, aquiline lovely models I saw wherever I turned, it just wasn’t gonna happen.
I was teased relentlessly for the shape of my nose for the first 25 years of my life, and dreamed of the day I could have it “fixed”. I wished and exercised away my teen years desperately wanting narrow hips and the waif-like figure of Kate Moss.
No matter what I did, my nose was still big and my thighs were too thick. At an audition I was told that I was wonderful but really didn’t look like a “lead”. The man gently explained that girls like me are cast as the funny supportive character, and the “ethnic ones”.
I felt like the ugly duckling. The one who would never grow into a swan but was secretly actually an ostrich. Don’t get me wrong, I think ostriches are pretty cool birds, but they are not the bird you visualize when you dream of becoming something beautiful.
He was right at that time too. No matter where I turned, the reality of how beauty was defined showed me I was an ostrich, and not a swan. I decided to hide behind a pen and keyboard, and to pour my words out to the word where it didn’t matter what I looked like.
Oddly enough I was an adult, a mom to five incredible kids, aging gracelessly when I really learned to love myself. My appreciation for my body grew out of an appreciation for how easily it could betray me. Suddenly I saw myself as an important vessel that was essential to bigger and much more important things than my own vanity.
I wanted to be able to walk and move and do more than just watch my children grow, I wanted to grow with them. I learned to love the moments I moved without pain. The days my face didn’t looked weary and low. I looked at my reflection and wanted my face to show tenderness and compassion.
The world is a bumpy place and life can knock you ass over teakettle so many times you have trouble catching your breath before tumbling again. I wanted people feeling thrown and embattled to look over and see hands stretched out through my eyes.
I’ve been lifted up and dusted off by complete strangers. People who saw struggling in me and wordlessly communicated “I see you and you are not alone. It gets better.” I began to shed my down and let gorgeous feathers replace them. I stretched my neck towards the sunlight and like a swan, set sail.
I wandered absentmindedly through the yard in the direction of the goats, reading my son’s paper with one hand, and carrying a bucket of feed in the other.
I stood at the fence, not looking up from the paper, and patted Honey’s head affectionately. She bleated softly and nuzzled my hand. I looked down to smile at her and realized she was on MY SIDE OF THE FENCE! An escapee!
She had squeezed under a section previously hidden from her by a deep layer of snow, now gone in the fifty degree sunshiny first day of Spring.
A rather extensive chase/reign of mayhem ensued, including an unexpected trip into and through THE HOUSE. And over my freshly washed floors. And much to the delight of my children.
My head is absolutely spinning. I love my kids and raising them has definitely stretched me in ways I’d never dreamed and made me a better person.
But lord help me…The teen years…. The hormonally driven wild highs, followed by sudden and dramatically fast drops, swooping up only moments before impact and soaring again and sucking everyone in the path of the storm along with it.
I never know which version of my teen will be the one walking through the door or whether it’s going to be a dance party or a red wedding.
The only thing less stable than a teenager is a martini glass filled to the rim with nitroglycerin, teetering in a tray carried by a blindfolded circus bear riding a unicycle on a tight wire that’s being yanked on by clowns.
And even then, the outcome is more predictable and less stressful. Lord have mercy…
One of my littlest littles at work tucked a note into my hand as he swooshed around me and past me in a blur of excited energy and relatively controlled chaos. He delivered it with a brief, tight hug, a thickly lisped plea for juice, and tore on to his next adventure further down the hall.
I had slipped it into my coat pocket quickly in order to accommodate his request before leaving to head home to my own busy brood, a long list of errands along the way.
This morning I pulled on the same coat to meet a friend for coffee and found the folded and crinkled paper. My heart melted at the bright crayon flowers, the carefully shaped letters phonetically spelling out words that curved around the edge of the page to fit. “Ellie I lof you”.
My job is a hard one. Children come to us in such crisis and pain, often expressed in anger because they are just hurting so much. They just want to be loved and to love and who could ask for a better job than that?
When I was a little girl I was afraid of my own voice. I was afraid that if the time came when I really needed to make myself heard, to cry out for help, no sound would come out. No help would come to the voiceless.
Silence was also comforting to me. Keeping painful things away from the spoken word meant I could cocoon myself with my memories and seal them away from the rest of the world. Allowing them to break into sound on my tongue, to let them live in the ears and the air around me just could not be allowed to happen.
My own mother has a powerful voice. She never hesitated to express what she was feeling or thinking and encouraged me constantly to know my own worth. Still, I struggled.
While my mother lived life out loud, I lived my own in my head and I worried about how I could possibly bring the world inside myself into harmony with the world outside.
I was painfully shy and only managed to emerge from my shell when I could pull on a character and slip onto a stage, free to be as loud as that version of me could be.
It was empowering. To stand on a stage, to inhabit someone else’s skin.
I could say and do and be anything I could dream of. I wanted that feeling to last forever, but always the moment I stepped into the wings, my voice became strangled and afraid and my world seemed confined to those anxieties. I lived there such a very long time. The world I could never escape.
It was a child, the heartbeat of a child, actually, that pushed me to start peeling back the layers of my cocoon, to shake and spread my damp wings for the sunlight. It took motherhood to tap into a power inside myself I never knew I had.
With each child that came into my life, a fierce determination came with it. A determination to instill self love, pride, and a courage to fly as far as their dreams dared them to go.
I started running after the birth of my 5th child, just telephone pole to telephone pole, adding another each time. It was embarrassing and hard and I felt foolish. I’m a slow runner, but I never give up.
I just wanted to be able to run a few miles in the sunshine, to feel freedom and strength. I wanted to experience that release. What was so unattainable started to move closer to me.
I decided to force myself to aim for something so big and wide it couldn’t help but grow me in its pursuit. A half marathon. It was something I never in a million years thought I could do as I ran telephone pole to telephone pole to 5k and then further.
I ran in silence. I ran in tears. I ran face to face with my thoughts, and I ran into and out of their path as my feet found the earth.
I ran that half marathon and it was just the beginning. It was time to break free from that cocoon of silence and let my heart speak too.
It was agonizing. It stretched me. It gave me the space to howl and cry out and even to scream. And then I spoke. I spoke my truth out loud. I found my own voice and with it the power to move mountains. And I found someone buried deep inside myself and aching to breathe free. I found a girl who knows her worth.