Friday, April 15, 2011

Mama Duck

I had an idea for a blog post about the kinds of mothers we can be. Some like to carry their children. Some like to walk on ahead and let them follow behind. Some like to sleep next to their children. Some like their kids in their own rooms in a separate space. I played a little bit from all sides looking for a good fit but still haven’t quite found it.

I can’t say I’ve been a confidant mother. Like most of us I often ask where the manual is for raising my kids. But I have tried very hard to listen to their needs and respond to their every whim. Until I realized that the only thing worse than letting a 2 year old be in charge of your world is letting that same 2 year old grow up to be 14. Not gonna happen.

So on the wise advice of a speaker I saw recently, Dr. Gordon Neufeld, who discusses the need to have children attach to their parents rather than their peers, I am making attempts to reestablish some kind of power in my household. According to Neufeld, attachment requires dependence and dependence requires one person to be the alpha in the relationship. I am stepping up for the role of leader so that my children have the comfort of a confidant parent. I aim to expect that my kids will follow. I will not turn back to go get them and carry them the rest of the way if they do not respond. I have started to have faith that they will follow, if I believe myself their keepers, if I trust in my own ability to guide them. In my short-lived experience, the bond with my children is growing stronger already. Who knew?

When you see a mother duck waddling along with her 8 little ducklings scooting along after her, you note that she doesn’t look back. She sets the order of things and her little ducklings feel safe and secure in that knowledge. Mama Duck is in charge and that’s a good thing. Should one of those ducklings take a tantrum because the colour of something isn’t right or the timing of a meal is off, she just keeps on walking. The survival of that duckling depends on following. And Mama knows that her little ones have the instinct to accept her as their compass point.

Within minutes of telling my husband this idea for my next post (and the new style of parenting I was going to try out), the phone rang. The cows had done their usual spring routine and barged off to visit the cattle one kilometer up the road. So we piled the kids in the van and headed over to bring our herd of three feisty females home. I suited up in my rubber boots, grabbed a bag of grain and once we got there I jumped out of the van to find the critters grazing happily on the newly growing lawn. One sniff of the bag of grain and they started towards home after me.

After a few minutes I realized my wish had come true. Here I was leading a pack of three cows and one van filled with two kids and one husband back up the road. I didn’t look back. I headed on as if it was the only place to go. Home. There were a few mishaps along the way – one girl decided to take the lane inside the fence while the others kept on the road but for the most part they did what herd animals do and followed the pack.

The running vehicle trolling along behind us was no hindrance, I realize. But for the purpose of this writing, I will assume that I was the leader for those 12 minutes it took to trot them back to the barn.

I never imagined in a million years that I would get to know beasts quite like these ones, in quite this way where I could wave some food and have them all willingly come along with me.

It was heaven really. As the sun went down, all of my little critters were back safely in their pens. All of my ducks in a row. I’m just glad I’ve got a few more years to practise before any one of them turns 14.

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