I love to learn.
Back when I homeschooled, my main goal was to teach my kids one thing: Learning is fun.
Once someone realizes it can be fun to learn new things, they keep going. They learn more. They try harder and dig deeper and go for the gold. Who knows what they will learn, but God uses all of it to mold them into the people He meant them to be.
Recently, we moved to a house backing up to a patch of woods and a pond. Our new location reminds me that learning for the sake of learning is fun.
Yesterday, I peeked out the window and spotted a dark bird with a curved beak. It was in the water, right at the edge, and when it walked, I saw the legs were a bright yellow-orange.
I whipped out my phone and typed “pond birds” into Google. It only took a few clicks to locate the right critter. I have a green-backed heron. I read about his diet and social behavior.
One thing I am learning from the local wildlife is that mamas are mamas, no matter their species.
We have three geese families roaming the neighborhood. Two couples have babies now, wee goslings. I have named them all Ryan. Yesterday, Mother Goose and her four Ryans hung out in my backyard, very near my door. I stood by the glass, watching them eat the tall grass my son forgot to mow this week. While I watched, Mother Goose stood very still with her neck stuck straight and high. Her eye stayed on me, and it did not leave me for a long time. When at last she bent her head and started feeding herself, I knew she assessed me as a non-threat.
Today, driving home from errands, I spotted Mother and Father Goose, along with the Ryans, in my neighbor’s front yard. I slowed the car to a crawl so I could get a better look. When Mother spotted me, she took off toward the babies, neck down and honks sounding from her mouth. She herded the Ryans to the other side of the lawn, far away from my car.
I’ve been a mom for fourteen years. In that time (and before) I read a lot about parenting. I have to tell you though, most of my mothering is identical to that goose in my neighborhood.
I am alert. I watch for threats. I act when my gut says act. I relax when my gut says relax.
Sometimes I am wrong.
Mother Goose was wrong this week, and I am grateful I was there to save the Ryan’s. After she decided I was not a threat, she felt safe in our yard. Unfortunately, our yard is not a safe place for small creatures, because I own a cat. My cat, River, is pretty vicious when it comes to birds, mice, moles, lizards, etc. I kept her inside while I knew the Ryans were near the house, but once they made it back to the pond, I let her out. She doesn’t like being cooped up.
At first, everything was fine. River doesn’t like the pond, so she ignores the animals congregating there. She took off and came back with a mouse instead. I happened to look outside later in the afternoon, and Mother Goose had walked her crew back up the slope to eat by my door.
This time, River noticed the newcomers. She slipped into stealth mode, and I opened the door to shout at her just in time to stop the attack. Now, geese aren’t helpless, and I am pretty sure Mama could handle my cat in most situations. But she wasn’t expecting the danger, and by the time she got to her babies, River could have already hurt one pretty badly.
So, if I am Mother Goose, I hope Jesus will be my homeowner at the backdoor, swooping in when I mess up.
Not just the actual Jesus, but the friends and family Jesus gave to me. I need them to help me raise these boys. I cannot always be vigilant. My instincts sometimes fail.
I’m learning to trust others to help me. Especially my husband. He is a good father, and he handles the kids as well as or better than I do most days. This summer, I left the country for a month, and I was not at all worried about my kids. I worried about getting sick, breaking my glasses with no backup, hitting a depressive cycle while away from home, and myriad other things, but I did not worry about my kids.
What about you? Look around you next time you are outside. There is a lot to see in nature. God created the trees, the flowers, the birds and the bees. What lesson has He hidden there for you?
*originally published on Middle Places