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Bird House

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May 2021

We humans call them penthouses. Birds, a lot less pretentious, probably just think of their homes as nests. As places go, nests are nice—no steps, safe from most predators, and views to die for. Unfortunately, we humans only get to see the bottoms. Birds are probably happy about that. They want their privacy, too.

Somewhere along the line, man figured out that if you build ’em, they’ll come. So we’ve built bird houses of all kinds, and the birds do come. Like us, they appreciate a chance to get out of the rain. Bringing the birds down to our level allows us to study their habits. In early spring we see the female, fat with eggs, searching for nesting material. Before long she’ll disappear into the house to sit on her eggs. By late spring she’s out again, and on a mission: feeding her hungry young ones. It’s a daily, all-day process. As momma draws near with a mouthful of insect, the baby birds start wildly chirping, their mouths wide open.  Momma first searches for predators, then tends to them. It’s fun to watch.

For years, my mom has watched the bird house hanging just outside her picture window. These days she watches from her wheelchair, and only for short periods. She is 106, and at that age nothing comes easy. Her mental processing has slowed, and her spoken words are few. As she watches life just outside her window, I wonder whether she thinks about her own life as a mother raising six children. Of her dreams and joys, her struggles and sacrifices. And I wonder whether she realizes how incredibly important it has been.

Since 1987 we’ve celebrated Women’s History Month, a reminder of women’s contributions in politics, education, work, health, and lifestyle. And there have been many. Women were often forced to courageously stand alone, with few resources, fighting the tide until help came. For their efforts, many women have gained fame and power; more importantly, they have opened doors for others. But in the fanfare, something and someone usually gets left out of the celebration: motherhood and mothers. That’s sad. Because if it’s true that behind every great man is a great woman, behind every great person—man or woman—is a great mom. More often than not, we are who we are because of our mothers.

There’s a whole lot more to a mom than can be put to words. Mothers are dreamers, big dreamers. From the moment they learn that they are carrying new life, their minds and hearts fill with the endless possibilities that await their child. Those dreams don’t stop when the baby is born. They intensify. Every small success leads to dreams of more. A mom dreams that her child will have more than what she had. Will be a better person than who she was.  A mom measures her success as a mom by the success of her child.

Moms are teachers. The class bell rings as soon as the baby arrives. It’s no surprise a baby’s first word is “momma.” Mom is the one helping with homework while dad is doing something else—usually watching television. Whether about big or little things, moms are instructing. It continues well into adulthood. If her children are really paying attention, they’re learning how much their mom loves them.

Moms are drivers. The auto industry sells more SUVs than anything else because moms are carting kids all over God’s green earth. But more than drivers, moms are driven. Moms make sure the kids are out of bed, groomed, homework done, and hopefully, courteous and attentive. When kids misbehave, they answer to moms, not dads. Moms understand the importance of building good habits that last for life.

Moms are medical and miracle workers. They are doctors healing skinned knees with a kiss. They can fix the seemingly unfixable, whether a broken toy or a hurt feeling. They are psychologists with Ph.Ds in common sense. They know which shoulder to put an arm around. They are good talkers and better listeners. Empathetic and compassionate, they teach both.

Moms work 24/7 doing everything imaginable. They are weight lifters, carrying the family’s problems on their backs. They are up nights for their babies, and up even later for their older ones. Moms pray to keep from worrying, then worry they’re not praying enough.

Most of all, moms are passionate lovers. Their love is true, sacrificing everything for the good of their children. A mom will go without food so her child eats. She will protect her children at all costs, and willingly give up her life for them. Moms hurt the deepest for their children, and grieve the most at their failures, injury, or loss.

A mother has the most joyful, most challenging, most painful, and ultimately most  powerful and important job in the world. Moms keep humanity going. We should thank God every day for mothers. And we need to help struggling moms.  For some, the thought of motherhood, especially unexpected motherhood, is so frightening. They need our prayers, encouragement, and support. It can be our way of saying thanks to our own mothers.

Our moms would want it that way. They know the job description.

 
Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics.  He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois and have six children.
© Paul V. Esposito 2021.  Culture of Life.  Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted.  Visit us at http://www.the-culture-of-life.com/ and on Facebook.

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