Thursday, March 19, 2009


This winter we had a tragedy with our chickens. Despite all of my love and preparations, we lost them when they were in the care of pet sitters. Although I'm not ready or willing to talk about them, something about the story made me think of how I parent my children.

When we arrived home after our trip across the state, we knew we would be arriving to an empty, quiet, and tragic scene. As I got the kids out of the car, put them in their PJs, and placed them in bed, my husband did what he thought I would want him to do. He located my dead pets and went to dispose of them before I could see them.

I was shocked and hurt. My husband was astounded at my reaction. To him, it made sense to protect me from the sight. To him, it made sense to take care of it quickly, and without my awareness.

I, on the other hand, felt like I failed them by not baring witness to their suffering. Since I dreamed and planned them into my life, pampered them, worried over them, and pondered over how to best give them a top notch quality of life, I felt that I owed it to them, and that it was completely my responsibility to acknowledge how they met their ends. I was the one who loved them. It was like they had been happily living a life that traveled alongside my own, and then they were just - gone. I last saw them happily eating warm oatmeal that I had made them on a beautiful snowy day.

And then they were gone. Opal ( the rooster), Annabelle, Sally, Midge, Fiona.

Most people would think this was crazy. Why get so upset over some chickens? Well, because I take things seriously. Pets are family members. I don’t acquire pets without an assumption that they are going to be with me for the rest of their lives. They will be loved, protected, and pampered for as long as they live.

And isn’t that what we do for our children? As parents, isn’t it our main job to bare witness to the lives of our babies? We chronicle their every moment in the womb, proudly record their stats, their first movements, and the evidence of their gender. We relive every moment of their birth, their first days on Earth, their first words, first steps, and first days of school. We have scrapbooks, photo albums, blogs, and birth announcements. We virtually shout out to the world, “This is my child! He is loved! He is beautiful and wonderful and Perfect in my eyes!”

Aidan was born 4 years ago. He was 10 pounds, had a full head of dark brown hair, and slept like it was going out of style.

Since then, he has grown at an amazing rate, giving us reason to constantly remind people that he is “only 2,” “only 3,” etc, when he looks like he is 2 years older. He is lean, tall, and has gorgeous, long lashes with brown puppy dog eyes.

He loves to snuggle on the couch and read or watch movies. Like a heated blanket, just being near his little body, practically humming with energy and heat, soon makes you feel all warm and toasty.

Aidan is obsessed with baseball. At a very young age, he knew the words for every sport, would shout out when we passed baseball fields, football fields, or a golf course. The moment he wakes up, and throughout the day, he asks to play baseball and walks around with his bat and mitt in hand.

Aidan is also very verbal. He constantly astounds us with his observations and his quirky way of communicating. He has never been afraid of strangers, so we’ve been able to watch him charm (or embarrass) countless people in grocery lines and ferry terminals. His sister looks up to him as a hero and a best friend. Aidan will say to her, “Addison, you want to play baseball with me?” and then he will give her a bat, put a backpack on her, and they will both parade through the house, saying they are going to a baseball game. It has been so lovely watching them become friends, as well as siblings. Sometimes it will get quiet, and I will sneak in to check on them. I’ll find them both in Aidan’s room, quietly reading a book on his bed, or he will be playing trains while she hands them to him one at a time.

On the day I learned of my chickens’ deaths, Aidan must have been listening to the adults, because he soon came sneaking downstairs to me. I heard someone tell him to come watch a video because Momma Chae was busy, but he said to them, “I want to go give mom a hug.” He came into the room as I tried to hide my tears and gave me a big hug, saying, “Momma, are you sad about your chickens?” We have learned that Aidan is listening – always listening – and will repeat or question what he hears. He is so smart, so sassy, and always keeps us on our toes.

Aidan loves to work outside, help make cookies, ride his bike, dance, vacuum, run, look for monsters in the woods, go on hikes, and eat corn dogs.

Aidan hates to try new foods, sleep-in, wear shirts without tags, go on “scary” amusement park rides, and be stuck inside on rainy days.

He is bold, he is handsome, he is affectionate, and he is naughty. He is all boy and all wonderful, with just enough craziness to have us pulling our hair out every now and then, and just enough sweet excitement to make us smile and forgive him.

He is 4.

What else will he be bringing us in the years to come? Whatever it is, I will always and forever be his loving witness.


Anonymous said...

wonderful post, thank you.