Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Cold Blues


I struggled all last week with a cold. My nose was a faucet, my throat was scratchy, I was losing my voice. This wasn't just any cold that drains your power and makes life miserable. This cold knocked me on my rear and said, "STAY!"

It took me a while to head back up the road to health again. The first step was I had to actually admit I was ill. I know, I'm a mom and I CAN'T get sick. It's not in our frame of reference! There was laundry to do, dishes to wash, meals to cook, faces to wash, school work to check and more. I labored on, pretending I wasn't ill until I was at the point of collapse. Are any of you nodding because you've done something similar?

So, I spent two days resting. Are any of you gasping in horror and disbelief? I know, I still feel a little guilty because, let's face it, society screams in our ears that we must be perfect robots and any weakness is unacceptable. Well, I took two guilt-free days and rested. My husband took care of most of the meals, the dishes piled up in the sink and the floor got dirty. The kids survived the ordeal by snuggling with me for a few minutes here and there and I concentrated on staying hydrated while trying NOT to rub my nose off. (Thank goodness for my lotion bar! It really soothed my aching nose.)

You know what DID happen? I woke up the third day with energy. I tackled the dishes (with little hands helping), I started a load of clothes, I felt emotionally available to my children and I am ready to tackle the world again.

I might just schedule a "sick" day every month if these are the results of a sick day (or two)!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Hard Lessons of Life

When you walk down the grocery aisle and pick up a package of chicken breasts, it's easy to forget where the meat comes from. It is very easy to displace your ability to consume meat from the reality of the life that is lost obtaining the meat.

Yesterday, my husband and I killed the big rooster and introduced our children to death. Part of me wants to curl up in a ball and hide from the responsibility to guide my children through the sad parts of life. Part of me knows that hiding from it doesn't make the rough patches disappear for my children. They will hurt and mourn whether I show them the tools to deal with it or not.

The back story: We purchased chickens mostly for the eggs. John and I built the chicken coop ourselves then populated it with life. When John bought these chickens, he wanted 1 rooster and 3 hens. When he picked up the chickens, the seller handed him two more adolescent chickens and said no charge. The gal had too many chickens and wanted to be rid of them so we made them part of our family.

1 month later and I noticed that one of the adolescent "females" was revealing very male qualities. The feathers were turning colorful and a red waddle was developing. We finally understood why the other chickens picked on this young chicken more -it was a rival rooster.

After a lot of discussion, we decided we wanted to let the younger rooster take over the flock. The older rooster wasn't as friendly as we wanted and we wanted a break from his constant crowing. We considered giving him away but didn't know anyone who needed a rooster. We then decided to butcher him.

I have to admit, writing what we did feels harsh. We don't take pleasure in killing. We don't enjoy the thought of ending a life. We had to face and own the actual source of the meat we so easy throw into our shopping carts.

After much blundering about, the deed was done but helping our children through this loss will take longer. Only our oldest was around for the process. He was the only one we felt was old enough to see the death. He had to leave several times and we let him come and go as he needed. My heart ached as I watched him mourn the rooster. Tears fell from all.

The younger two didn't see any part of the death so they only understand the rooster is gone. I think the concept the the rooster died isn't concrete yet and I think it should stay that way for a few more years until they have more maturity and life experience to handle death.

As we work through the loss, I feel the most important lessons I am teaching my children are:

  • It's OK to hurt. Accept the pain. Avoiding your feelings does not make them go away. Take all the time you need to process what happened (death, injury, heartbreak, etc.). We have talked about why the rooster died, what they think of the rooster being gone and more several times in just 24 hours. I'll talk to them about it as many times as they need to work through this new trial.
  • Death is a part of life. While death is sad and birth is happy, we will experience both as we live. We talked about how one day we'll get chicks from some of the eggs and as the chickens get older they will die too.
  • We did not kill for fun. We made sure everyone understood John and I did not kill the rooster because we enjoyed it. We killed the rooster for meat to nourish us and so the little rooster could grow up. While watching videos to get ideas on how to kill and butcher the chicken efficiently, we found videos of drunk guys laughing and rejoicing over the deaths. That was not the message we want our children to receive.
How do you handle guiding your children through the hard parts of life?