Mom, the Impossible Job


Tirelessly, the mom goes about caring for her newborns, seeing to their every need both day and night. She provides them with warmth when they’re cold, feeds them when they’re hungry, and always showers them with endless love. Taking care of one little one would be daunting, but five? The task is beyond exhausting. But she does it all without one complaint, always putting her needs last.

Then one day, her babies grow up, leaving the only home they have ever known to go out into the world and start their adult lives. And perhaps they will find that special one and have families of their own — starting the cycle of life all over again.

The large ceramic pot had been placed on the back porch table over three months ago. Adding dirt and a house plant to the empty pot decorated with a spray of blue, yellow, and pink flowers had been just one of many projects I had not gotten around to. Last month, with the cool spring weather finally upon us, it was time for me to finish the task.

What I found when I looked inside delayed the potting yet again. A bird had built a nest and laid inside it a single tan egg with brown spots. A day later another egg joined the first, then another until there were a total of five speckled eggs. Blocking any harsh winds and tucking the eggs away from the prying eyes of predators, the clay pot under the cover of the porch roof was an ideal place for momma bird to start her new family.

Only two weeks later, all the eggs had hatched. Mom looked after each, taking care of their every need. Another two weeks went by and then, one by one, her babies left the nest, flying away into the great unknown of this world — a world filled with wonder and dangers.

With all now grown, the momma bird also left the nest — the only home her babies had ever known. If a bird could feel joy, fulfillment, and sadness all at the same time, I’m sure that’s what the momma bird felt watching her babies finally take flight for the first time. I believe our mom would’ve said she felt the same way when her five little birds left her nest.

Growing up back on Flamingo Street, I was too naïve to “see” our mom. Staying home for almost all our childhood, it was Mom who took care of all our needs. From preparing homecooked meals, ensuring we had clean clothes, taking care of our boo-boos, comforting us after bad dreams, nursing us back to health after an illness, and helping us for hours with homework, she was always there. During the week, our dad went to work before the sun rose, returning home long after its setting so we only spent time with him on the weekends. Mom took care of him also.

The impossible job.

Mom stayed at home taking care of us five kids almost entirely by herself. Looking back, I don’t think she had a moment to herself. How she did it I don’t know. Now add going to work at a full-time job to being a mom before/after, and all night: that’s truly the impossible job. And yet countless millions of moms out there do the impossible every day.

It was fifteen years after leaving Flamingo that I finally “saw” our mom while cradling her as we descended the flight of steps to the ambulance. She looked up at me with the gray eyes of a soul who would soon depart this world. In them still shined all the love, devotion, happiness, and sadness of a life well lived…though all too short. Not a word was spoken. I knew it was time for our momma bird to take her last flight.

And she did.

On this Mother’s Day, I hope you take the time to actually see the person who has put so much of her life into you so you could become the person you are while asking nothing in return. Thank her for all that she has done like I wish I had while growing up a long, long time ago on that old familiar street not so far away called Flamingo.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories weekly in The Citizen since 2001.]