Chickadee Mama

Yesterday morning, feeling tired and drawn, I sat on Church Street with a friend. I recognized how tempting it was to go down the “What’s wrong with me?” road. And how useless, too.

“You’re just tired,” she said. “You have a two-year old. And a five-year old.”

Really? Just tired? That simple? It didn’t have to MEAN something. It didn’t have to signify something, or be a symptom of something worrisome and deadly. I was just tired. How freeing really.

Then she went on to tell me about a study she read about. It had to do with chickadees. Chickadee moms and chickadee dads, I kid you not. These birdie moms and dads had chickadee babies, who went “cheep, cheep, cheep, cheep” and hopped to and fro in their little nest all day long. And guess what? The chickadee moms and chickadee dads were frazzled. Their feathers were, literally, all ruffled. They were, without fanfare, fear, or judgment, tired.

The difference as humans is that we pile all kinds of stories on top of what is sometimes pure and simple tiredness, creating a multi-layered cake so rich you can only stomach a few small bites of it before you start feeling sick.

Apparently, my baby chickadees are also tired. This morning, we all slept in till 8:20. Yes, friends, that’s EIGHT-TWENTY. Greg had long ago left for work. I heard Pearl call out, “Mama. My boo-boo hurts,” which has been her wake-up song lately. I noticed I had a sore throat. I fumbled around for my glasses and looked at the clock. Eight-twenty. I did a double-take. EIGHT-TWENTY!

“V!! It’s your snack day!!!” A bunch of hungry preschoolers were, at that very moment, waiting for us to arrive with goldfish and plums. A frazzled mama chickadee rocked into action.

Twenty-five later, lunches were packed, snack was prepared, clues were written for Aviva’s “show and teach,” both kids were dressed, and, miraculously, the only thing melting was the butter on two pieces of cinnamon raisin toast to be eaten in the car.

“V, I’m taking a deep breath now!” I yelled from the kitchen at one point, as she wrote out her clues (quite nicely, I might add) and I tried to manage a hungry Pearl while pouring day-old coffee into a travel mug.

“Why are you telling me that?” she called back.

“Because it’s what I’m always telling you to do when you’re freaking out, and now I’m the one freaking out, so I’m telling you I’m taking a breath and calming down now.” She seemed to accept this answer.

Then we were off. At 8:50, we were in the car. I turned the radio on, taking in the words from an unfamiliar song: Baby, baby, you mean the world to me…

All of a sudden, I felt inexplicably euphoric. Alanis Morrisette came on next.

“Crazy loud?” I asked. “Yeah!” called my little chickadees.

Next thing I knew, we were blasting “Hand In My Pocket” as we rolled down Main Street towards school. And what occurred to me in that moment was that this is not just some stage I’m in, this crazy-sane-frazzled-calm-chickadee-mama mode. This may very well be who I am. And it actually felt great. I looked in the rearview at my girls. I thought, this is their life, our life. This is how they are growing up.

And then I turned the music up a little louder and belted it out.

I’m broke but I’m happy
I’m poor but I’m kind
I’m short but I’m healthy, yeah (I had to laugh here)
I’m high but I’m grounded
I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed
I’m lost but I’m hopeful baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine fine fine
I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five
I feel drunk but I’m sober
I’m young and I’m underpaid
I’m tired but I’m working, yeah
I care but I’m restless
I’m here but I’m really gone
I’m wrong and I’m sorry baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be quite alright
I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is flicking a cigarette
What it all comes down to
Is that I haven’t got it all figured out just yet
I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving the peace sign
I’m free but I’m focused
I’m green but I’m wise
I’m hard but I’m friendly baby
I’m sad but I’m laughing
I’m brave but I’m chicken shit
I’m sick but I’m pretty baby
What it all boils down to
Is that no one’s really got it figured out just yet
I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is playing the piano
What it all comes down to my friends
Is that everything’s just fine fine fine
I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is hailing a taxi cab…

7 thoughts on “Chickadee Mama

  1. Shawn says:

    Have you watched the Happinness Project’s one-minute movie? This post reminds me of that … very much. I just watched it this week.

    Anyway, yeah, this is the life, tired or not. But, yes, so very tired.


  2. Chloe says:

    I’m smiling thinking of the memories for your girls–their mamma chickadee belting out Alanis Morisette on the way to school.


  3. **camera shy momma** says:

    i love it when music speaks directly to us.

    “I thought, this is their life, our life. This is how they are growing up.”

    minute by minute right? this is it. and it’s wonderful because of them.


  4. Shelli says:

    Yay! You said it!

    I love that song too.

    Sometimes it’s hard to remember that “we’re just tired.” That we don’t have to go any deeper than that.

    I hope you’re feeling better and that sore throat didn’t get worse!


  5. bella says:

    I love this story.
    And yes, sometimes it is just plain old tired.
    A lot of times I think, once you had kiddos.
    I love that you are, simply, living.
    It makes me happy.


  6. writermeeg says:

    oh, how i love visiting here, jena! right on, just right on. and when my head peeks out from diaper-ville in a couple years, i’d love to have you as a career coach. that bright light in the future, allright. and, for today, just a ruffled chickadee mama — perfect.



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