Mother’s Day began with my first tick bite, which is not in any way like the love bite I was expecting. The woods are full of deer ticks right now, carriers of Lyme disease with startling symptoms like facial paralysis – whilst tempting with no Botox clinics in the forest, other muscles and the brain can also freeze, so you have to get the burrowing little suckers out.
Taking my mind of the tick’s sharp little fangs, I went out to feed the chickens. Usually they chirp but there was an eerie silence when I got to the coop that hammered on my instincts.
What greeted me inside would put me off the Dimple’s scrambled eggs – which unfortunately had hunks of turkey meat in them. A raccoon got passed our dastardly security system and had a six chicken degustation banquet. Three were headless. Two were a pile of feathers and one looked like it had been vacuumed inside out, and all that remained was innards flopping about on a roosting perch. My innards wanted to scream, fill the horrible silence, but I swallowed hard, not wanting to alert Bob and the ‘Dactyl.
Thank goodness for Roald Dahl because we told them, just like in the story of Fantastic Mr Fox, “A hungry raccoon needed to feed his family.”
Bob held up a chubby finger, “Did he take one chicken for them?”
Erm, no darling, this raccoon had a really big extended family, possibly a forest reunion: he took all six….
The massacre bought up a nasty reminder about a near-death experience two nights prior.
Accidentally (and totally sober) I drove down Highway 20 at 65 miles an hour on the wrong side of the road with the children in the back and didn’t realize until I saw another car coming straight for us.
There’s an accident on Highway 20 about once a month and the driveway I pulled out from was where one family lost two (out of three) children last year in a head on. After I zoomed off everyone realized – the kiwi is on the freakin’ left – and waited, holding their breath, hoping not to hear a crash. We’re so lucky there wasn’t.
Trying to understand it, I wrestled with wtf happened? Not enough coffee? Too many strawberries? Itchy foot? Imaginary tick bite? In truth, I think I had a brain fart. Knowing it was a fatal bit of road, feeling the presence of recent Death, I reverted back to my instinctual way to drive: on the left.
Thinking of the TV slogan ‘country people die on country roads’ I kept imagining us in the ad, filling in my own ending. What If I it wasn’t an old lady in a hybrid coming the other way but a hoon? What if she had been coming on one of the many blind corners?
What if it left my children without a mother? What If it left me without them?
Such pleasant Mother’s Day thoughts.
The Dimple, being a logical man, needed assurance it would never happen again while we live in America. Me, being an emotional woman, needed forgiveness and a hug.
The hardest part about any conclusion was that it was all me: not concentrating. If anyone in our household was going to drive on the wrong side it would be me. I’m the one that puts the kettle on the stove and walks away or puts her wallet on top of the car, fills up with gas and drives off. I’ve been known to walk into men’s toilets without noticing too.
I’m completely totally utterly amazing in many other ways but, sometimes, just occasionally, I’m not fully engaged with my surroundings. Sometimes my two lefts don’t equal a right. As a mother, that’s frightening because two small people are dependent on me being ON IT every second.
Feeling like a terrible mother, guilt and shame washed over me all day. Who put me in charge?
Totally on queue, the ‘Dactyl started humming a Laurie Berkner song we’d been enjoying in the car, “Hmmm ot purr-fit.” Listening closely I deciphered the line: I’m not perfect.
Perhaps that Friday afternoon on Highway 20 wasn’t my best, but the best thing I can do from the experience is learn from it.
It was a reminder, a tap on the elbow: keep your wits about you and stick to the right Mama. It was a perfect reminder because nobody lost their mother, children or wife in the process. That crease between my eyebrows got a little deeper that’s all. Nothing a little Lyme disease can’t fix.
When I told the Dimple I would do my absolute best driving, but I could no longer beat myself up about What If, he gave me the hug I needed. “I don’t think I would ever get over losing you all,” he said, melting away my shame.
Mother’s Day evening over a glass of wine, we decided we were grateful the chickens died. They didn’t even get to lay one egg, kiss a frog, ride a rollercoaster, but if there was any dying to be done amongst the family in the woods that weekend, the chooks took one for the team. R.I.P.
Now Bob wants a guinea pig but we need to research whether raccoons like guinea tartare as much as chicken ceviche. Go on, say it: Ew…