Sometimes, I want to run away.
When the laundry is never-ending, when the dishes pile up, when the little ones won’t be trained, when the crazy gets a little too crazy… I just want a break from it all. A moment to close my eyes, breathe slowly, and hear myself think.
But then I remember the baby Swallows. I don’t even have to get as far as the driveway where I’d see their house—the bird house that now sits empty.
On Mother’s Day, Ruth and her daddy built a bird house for the Blue Birds. They measured, they cut, they put it all together. With a special little side-opening door so the girls could watch the baby birdies grow.
They screwed it high on a post just outside the kitchen window—out of reach of children and cats—and waited for the birdies to come. And they did—except, they were Swallows, not Blue Birds. Ruth didn’t care. She was so excited to see Momma Birdie come in and out of the house with bits of grass.
Soon, there were baby “eggers.” Ruth and her daddy peeked in from time to time, waiting for the eggs to hatch. And one day, there were fluffy little babies in the nest. The nest that Momma Birdie had so carefully prepared.
We heard their little noises. We stole a quick glance now and then—and even a photo once.
But then, one day, when Ru wanted to look at the baby Swallows, her daddy tried to distract her.
“The baby birdies are all dead in there,” he told me later.
We’d both seen the bird smashed on the middle of the road. We knew that was probably what had happened to Momma Birdie.
And without her there, her babies starved to death. No one else could care for her babies like she could. Not even Daddy Bird, apparently.
We told Ruth that the birdies had all flown away.
The worst part is that I remember a day when their cries were louder than normal. They were starving. But nobody was listening.
Some days, Ruth is sure she has spotted Momma Bird flying in the air.
Yes, that’s probably a Momma Birdie, I agree.
Even a quick walk to the mailbox reminds me of the baby Swallows. I see the bird house, on another post further from the house, where we moved it to await another spring, another Momma Bird—maybe a Blue Bird this time. I step over the feathers still embedded in the pavement in the middle of the road. And I walk back to the house, little hand in mine.
And later, when she asks a tired, exhausted me, “Mommy, would you hold me like a baby?” I pick her up, cradling her as I hug her tight through the tears.
I still feel like running away sometimes. But I have only to think of the empty bird house, and the baby Swallows whose Mommy didn’t come back.
Then I hear my daughter’s voice, interrupting the scolding, cutting through my frustration: “Momma, you’re such a good mom.”
And I pray for the wisdom to be the mom she believes me to be. I pray for the strength to listen, to stay, to give them the care no one else can give.