Odd Little Post-Mother’s Day Post
On the morning of Mother’s Day, my son brought home a tiny, premature snake. I mean this thing was only a little bit bigger than a matchstick and wiggled his glossy body all over my kid’s fingers, biting them in a pathetic attempt at defending himself from what he imagined was a huge, goofy-grinned predator.
Charlie, I started calling him.
“It’s so sad,” my son said. “His mother was run over by a car and she was pregnant. Most of the baby snakes got smashed, too, but about four or five of them were squished out of her and survived.”
We took Charlie to our kitchen and fed him a little egg yolk before my son set him free in some bushes by our porch. The critter would have to fend for himself, as our pet snake, Felina, is not the nurturing type. Some months ago she tried to smother her own brother, Pickles, and seems quite happy to have her habitat to herself now, thank you very much.
Charlie was sweet, and almost cute. We hated to let him go like that, but we needed to do it quickly before he got used to being taken care of and my son got attached. The itty-bitty thing, smaller than a worm, slithered away without a hint of sentiment for the boy who’d saved his life.
“Such is the plight of the mother,” I told my son.
In response, he wrote me this Mother’s Day poem:
Roses are red
Windex is blue
Thanks for cleaning my poo
I really appreciate it.
Smart-assed thirteen year-old boy poems aside, I’m grateful to have had a much, much better Mother’s Day than Charlie’s mother. My husband and kids took me for a picnic by a trout lake nestled in a valley that looks up at the Blue Ridge Mountains. We ate Spanish ham French-style, with fresh baguettes, Manchego cheese and a container of bright green olives that looked like miniature Granny Smith apples. We took a drive in our Jeep – top down, and allowed ourselves to get a sunburn. It was a nearly flawless day, our good fortune brought into even greater relief by Charlie and the fate of his mother and siblings.
And as we pulled into our driveway at the end of this wonderful excursion, the words of a friend of mine popped into my head. I had to go searching for them in my quotes file, as I’d loved them so much I actually saved them there, waiting to re-purpose them. This whole Charlie episode presented a perfect opportunity.
“I came into the world kicking, screaming and covered in blood. I have no problem leaving the same way.” -Khalid Muhammad, posted on Facebook some weeks ago.
Because ain’t that the truth? This birthing business, whether you’re on the giving end or the receiving end, isn’t for the faint-hearted. It’s beautiful and terrible and thrilling. It’s dangerous for Pete’s sake.
Nothing has given me more satisfaction than being a mother and nothing has made me feel more insignificant. From the moment I looked into my first child’s eyes – the above mentioned son – I knew my life was over. Even if only metaphorically speaking. I became fully aware that if I did this thing right, I would put his interests above my own and go on to raise an independent, competent human being, who would learn the skills to leave me behind and build his own happy life with a family of his choice and making. Hopefully, he would look over his shoulder every once in a while – unlike Charlie, that ungrateful bastard – and shoot me a wistful smile. A “thanks for cleaning my poo” smile. “I really appreciate it.”
And hopefully, he and his sisters will take notice of how much I appreciate my own mom, who not only gave me life, but a good one at that. All I have to do is watch the news for five minutes to know how lucky I am to have her. Or just look at Charlie, who has to go it alone in this world.