Lessons from an eagle

Yesterday I saw a photo shared on Facebook of an eagle cam in Tennessee.  Like so much of the rest of the country, Tennessee has gotten snow this week.  The photo shows a bald eagle covered in snow sitting on top of her eggs.

This screenshot from the Harrison Bay Live Eagle Cam was posted on the Sunset Marina Facebook page this week.

For some reason, this photo moved me.  I was struck at that mama bird sitting there weathering the storm and cold to protect her babies.  This photo represents motherhood in a nutshell.  Fortunately I don’t have to sit on my children to keep them warm (they’d never hold still), but I am charged with protecting them.  I feel this bald eagle mama.  I feel her discomfort and cold and her sheer determination.  I understand where she’s coming from.  I’ve been there in different ways.  Motherhood is uncomfortable.  It starts very early on with morning sickness and all sorts of other pregnancy joys.

I spent a year tied to a breast pump to keep my daughter fed and nourished when she was unable to nurse.  I spent the last three months of my second pregnancy in constant pain.  I spent three months sleeping on the couch with a baby boy who cried all night long night after night.  I have slept in all sorts of weird and uncomfortable positions to keep vigil with sick children and just be present for them.  I have held buckets to catch vomit.  I have been covered in bodily fluid that is not my own.  I have lost more sleep than I even can count.  I have found energy to keep going when I thought I had no more left to give.  I live the life of a mom.  Every other mother can share similar stories.  We protect our young.  We are uncomfortable for them.  And we don’t really give it a second thought.  Of course we get discouraged.  Of course we lose heart.  Of course we get weary to the very core of our being.  Of course we get frustrated.  Of course we get fed up.  But, of course we continue on because our love far outweighs all of our discomfort and irritation.  It really, truly does.

Like the eagle protecting her eggs from the cold by shielding them with her own body, we sacrifice and give up parts of ourselves to protect and care for our babies.  It’s how motherhood works.  It’s not easy or always pleasant, but it is always beautiful.  It is good.

What else is good about this is eagle is that she’s not over-thinking motherhood and her skills as a mom.  She isn’t berating herself because she isn’t a bear who can go deep into a cave with her young to keep them warm.  She isn’t judging herself harshly because she should have known better than to build a nest in Tennessee where freak snow storms have been known to take place.  She isn’t comparing her nest to the other eagle’s nest in the next tree.  She’s got her head down, doing what needs to be done without second guessing herself.

Oh how I could learn from that eagle.  I’d like to tell you I never second guess myself, compare my mothering to others, judge myself harshly for things out of my control or wish I were a different kind of mother.  But I do all of those things and more.  I have times I worry and fret.  I have times of doubt and fear. I have times I lose my patience.  Just yesterday we had a game of Hungry, Hungry Hippos go awry that ended with me threatening to throw away the game and sending a sobbing child to her room to just calm down.  Do I want to be a mother full of grace and patience?  Of course.  Do I always succeed? Definitely not.

My best times of motherhood are the ones where I just let go and enjoy my children.  It’s the times when I’m not worried about what all needs to get done on my to-do list or beating myself up over my shortcomings.  It’s when I am just being who I am and enjoying my children for who they are.  Those are the good times.

I’ve started reading a new book that I know will result in a blog post later on, but right now what’s stuck out to me the most is a reminder that moms need to stop focusing on their shortcomings and start remembering their talents and skills.  So maybe I’m not good at having my kids out and about in lots of activities that, quite frankly as an introvert, drain me completely.  But I am good at sitting and reading book after book after book.  I am good at getting on the floor and rolling around cars or making dolls talk to one another.  I don’t need to beat myself up for what I’m not.  I need to be thankful for what I am.  Of course I need to improve where I can.  Of course I need to get out of my comfort zone sometimes, but I don’t need to constantly beat myself up.  I need to take a lesson from the mama eagle, put my head down and do what I know how to do best.  I need to keep moving forward taking care of my babies, even in the middle of storms.

Today, my mama friends, channel your inner mama eagle. Keep your head down, moving forward and don’t worry about all the other muck around you.  Celebrate yourself for what you’re good at and how far you’ve come.  You are awesome!

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