The scene of the crime: the day I fell flat on my face in the goat pen while feeding my eager and equally fragrant friends. I was hurried and harried, late for work. I rushed to get everything done before heading out. My pace proved my undoing as I climbed over the fence and landed in a slippery patch of what can only be described as the unmistakable stew of mud and goat poop. Within moments I was face down, spread eagle in this…indignity. Covered. Just COVERED. Head to toe in it. The goats were delighted by my entry, and being male, clearly enjoyed the Three stooges comedy of my situation. I had little choice but to climb to my feet and continue with my chores before stripping down quite publicly on my porch to the amusement of passers by. I was certainly not going to trail THAT delightful mess through my house on the way to shower! It’s fascinating the perspective this gives. Interestingly enough, when your day starts covered in excrement, the rest of the day’s problems seem relatively manageable.
To pig, or not to pig? That is the question before us. I admit to a deep infatuation with the little oinkers, a love of round, snuffly noses and adorably squat bodies. I love a good mud bath. I’m more than a little partial to high jinks and tomfoolery precipitated by their clever little minds. I’m a sucker for a good escape artist and things that finish everything on their plate because those are the kind of compliments my children showered on me, affirming that I was in fact,
both suffocating them to the point of escape with my affections, and feeding them good food (strong indications of parenting success no Lebanese mother can survive without). HOWEVER, that being said, I complied with hubby’s plea for reason and restraint and agreed to research just what I was dying to jump into. I had a willing accomplice in my sister in law. A woman I adore, as impulsive and enthusiastic as I am, ready to bankroll my impetuous flight of fancy. Not an easy thing to resist…But in a marriage, terms must be mostly agreeable to both parties (mostly to me) in order for harmony (and the participation of the household “builder”, aka: said hubby) and peace to abide. Research had both my sister in law and I thinking it might be more work than anticipated, which hardened into a definite resolve not to add other…oder producing pets…after a hot days breeze carried unholy fragrances over to our research area. Nope, nope, NOPE. As fate would have it, yesterday’s 2 1/2 hours spent clearing and leveling our chicken yard enclosure, covered in mud and…not mud…sealed the deal for me. No pigs. The universe does NOT want me to have pigs. The universe wants me to visit pigs that OTHER people have, and then go home.
Our wee little chicks have out grown their kitchen based domicile. Being still quite small compared with those big boned gals in the coop-de-ville, an interim base camp was needed. With hubby away, and the itty bitties bursting at the seems inside, I headed to the local hardware store armed only with desperation and a half baked, hair brained idea taking form. Lacking a working knowledge of the tools in our shed, strong spacial skills, basic math abilities, and solid upper body strength, I decided to rely solely on materials I could tie together and drag around the yard myself. The plan was simple: construct a basic rectangular box out of PVC pipes and 3 way joints to connect them, at which point I planned to wrap the entire thing in old chicken wire, held to the form with the 3 zip ties I found rummaging around the house, a 5 foot length of wire I found stumbling around the poorly lit shed, and a huge pile of twisters I usually reserve for tying Christmas lights to the eves. It was fool proof! A kindly gentleman at the store, blessed with the patience usually required by parents of 4th graders the night before a science project is due, listened while I used wild hand gestures and vague descriptions to communicate my “blueprint”. Amazingly he understood enough of my native language (utter hooey) to help me gather the required supplies, even cutting the pipes to my non specific, arms stretched out to indicate lengths, directions. I was on fire. Upon arriving back home I enlisted the help of the two unlucky children not otherwise engaged, and used the same eloquent articulation to convey the plan. Less than half an hour later, I stood proudly gazing at our handiwork, my hands and arms covered in a multitude of tiny cuts because I refused to use common sense and wear protective gloves to handle the chicken wire (a hellish mistress with a devil of a temper), pride swelling in my heart. The result is a fantastic, inexpensive , light weight and portable “mini coop” that can even fit into the big coop at night, and most impressively, is so simple to assemble, even a team of reluctant monkeys can do it. Success!
*For anyone facing a similar dilemma and as apt at “construction” as I am, the PVC pipes are 1/2″, are sold 10 feet long at less than $3 a length. The one I made is 5 feet long by 3’4″‘s wide, 3’4″s high. The odd measurements are because I had the guy cut 2 of the poles in half (5′ each half), and three other poles equally in 3rds (hence the strange 3’4″ lengths! A side note: you only need 8 of them so you end up with an extra 3’4″ length). I used eight 3 way connectors (4 at each end) to make squares and then connected the squares with the 5’ poles. One roll of chicken wire will cover 4 sides and the top. I HIGHLY recommend coughing up the extra money for a big bag of zip ties, way faster and easier than twisting a million actual twisters all around the thing to hold the wire to the frame!
Dignity. Ever dignity. That was my father’s motto, and like the dutiful children my siblings and I were, we endeavored to strip him of it. Every chance we got. Our good fortune lay in his tireless patience and humor.
My own sojourn into parenthood lead me along much the same path. The eternal lessons in humility, panic, patience, and the art of field stitching wounds, finding lost items, locating public bathrooms for pea sized bladders, and cultivating a level of civilized behavior in my offspring suitable for general audiences. It’s a bumpy road, to say the least. To say the most…well, entire libraries of books on the subject already litter the landscape. I will spare you the unabridged version.
I love my children. I am continually amazed by their brilliance (which they get from their dad) and their keen sense of humor, sliding often into the dark, irreverent side, which I am certain they get from me. At every opportunity I have thrust upon them to become cultured and refined, they have proven time and again that my genetic contributions to their proper sensibilities has won out. Shenanigans and tomfoolery ensue.
I have, maybe, 3 or 4 pictures over the past 20 years in which my children are looking at the camera and smiling nicely. I have thousands more where not a single one of them was able to master the self control necessary for a 20 second photograph.
My albums, the records of my beautiful children, read like a year book for the local insane asylum. Why does this make me ridiculously proud?
On the way home
“On the way home” is a phrase that most people consider to refer to a point on the map between a starting point and a final destination. You know, like “I’ll stop for milk on my way home from work”, or “I’ll pick up your kid on my way past your house for basketball practice”, because those things are conveniently place in between point A and point B. “On the way home” is a small favor to do, not even a favor really, since your going pretty much right past that thing or kid to get where you were going to go anyway, right? You really only need to break a little, maybe even stop the car so the extra kid can dive roll in and buckle up as you rev the engine and bring the car back to top speeds with out skipping a beat. My friends and I do it all the time for each other, mostly because while we like each other, it is pretty much ON THE WAY, so why not? If your kid lived across town and I had to drive in some crazy triangle just to get your kid before driving in a totally opposite direction, I certainly wouldn’t consider it “on the way” and while I would still do it for you, it would ABSOLUTELY be a favor. I might even grumble on occasion, as I’m sure you would. Muttering under my breath as I add extra time to do this THING for my friend because it meant heaving my lazy butt off the couch and into a cold car on a dark night that much sooner. I mean, I love you all, really I do, and I will always help you out and I won’t even complain out loud. I don’t need to since having a continual internal dialogue going on in my warped brain anyway, that would terrify most sane people.
I’ll talk and rail at myself in the privacy of my brain. No need to expose you to all that. Anyway, the point is while I will do this for you anytime, I don’t consider it “on the way”, that’s all. Here’s the thing that amazes me though: My parents are always saying this to me. “Honey, we thought we would just stop by on the way home from your sister’s.
My sister, it should be noted, lives two and a half hours south of me, and my parents live an hour south of me so I am most definitely NOT on their way home. They’ll stop by “on their way home” from points across the globe, and always with arms full of things they picked up shopping (that they will never use) that they figure we can use/need/like.
They are amazing. It hasn’t mattered how long their flight back from a sojourn somewhere wonderful was; still they will call and say, “We thought we would swing by on our way home…” They have logged more out of the way miles than that guy from “Dumpsters, dives and diners” has and all in the name of coming to me “on their way home”.
When my Dad and Mom say “on the way home” what they are really saying is “I love you”. Like Wesley in the Princess Bride movie who’s “as you wish” was really “I love you”. My parents have ways of saying this that at first go unnoticed for the expression it really is. I am not “on the way home” for them, not by any stretch of the imagination, but for my mom and dad, I will always be “on the way home. And, you know what? I love them too.
A dare. That’s what most of motherhood is: one, giant, everyone’s watching DARE. Actually, it’s the ultimate dare. The DOUBLE DOG DARE, the dare from which there is no backing down, no saying “pass”. It’s the dare to end all dares and everyone is watching. It’s you against the unknown challenge. You somehow know instinctively that it will involve being outside of your comfort zone, and also, probably, a little humiliation for laughs.
It’s worth it, don’t get me wrong, but you WILL be the subject of many, many blackmail worthy pictures your kids are probably assembling into a final presentation for your commitment hearings. Don’t worry, you’ll have your day in court. Two can play at this game after all. I mean your average teen will melt in horror at any public demonstration of your singing…and your choice in outfits? Go for flamboyant costumes and I guarantee you will walk across that parking lot ALONE.
If anyone had been completely upfront with me about the huge leaps of faith, the near constant blindfolded trust walks, and the outright make-it-up-as-you-go-along technique required to shepherd those adorable, pudgy, toothless babies through their teen years and beyond, I might have run the other way.
But then again, I would have missed out on the best ride of my life. Go on and try it. I DARE you. Slap on your war paint and get ready to get down and dirty because being a mom is many things, and I wouldn’t trade a single one of them. Bring. It. ON.