We have nine hens. We use them for fresh eggs. Every so often one goes broody. This means she decides she wants to be a mom. She will sit in the nest on eggs and care for them. Now, we don’t have a rooster, so none of the eggs are fertile. We have always discouraged the hens because they will not lay eggs while broody.
Recently, we had another hen go broody so I called a friend who has a rooster and asked for some fertile eggs. We moved our hen, Laurel, from the coop and put the eggs under her. She sat like a champ for 21 days! Then Saturday morning we woke to little peeping sounds. We couldn’t handle the excitement so we moved her a bit and peeked under. Sure enough a newly hatched chick.
Well, Laurel started pecking at it and being nasty. She did the same thing with the next chick so we removed the first three that hatched. Then, I had second thoughts. What if she wasn’t pecking? What if she was picking off small pieces of shell? What if she was trying to get the babies back under her in the right places? What if that is just normal maternal chicken behavior? We got brave and put the three hatched babies back under Laurel right as number four was emerging from the shell. And you know what? She gently moved them under her and all has been fine. Five more babies and 48 hours later and they are all doing great!
So what is the parenting lesson? What did I learn from a chicken? This—
As moms, and dads and people in general, we need to trust each other. We need to stop judging the actions of other parents as right or wrong and trust that they are doing what they know to do that is best for their family in that moment. We all have different children. We are all different people. We all come from different family backgrounds. We come from different cultures. No baby comes with an owner’s manual. We all do what we think is best for our family. We should trust in that!
The parenting choices are endless. Naturally occurring labor or planned induction; vaginal birth or c-section; medicated or un-medicated birth; breast or bottle, co-sleep or own bed; cloth or disposable diapers; jarred food or make your own; organic or not; swing, jumper, play mat; open cup or sippy cup or straw; soothe to sleep or let the baby cry it out? And this is all in the first few months……
When you throw special needs into the mix it becomes even more complex. You now have to choose doctors, specialists, therapies, therapists, diet, medication, education, the list goes on and on. When looking at other parents it is easy to get caught up in what your choice would be, what has worked for you or what you view as right or correct.
Back to our hen. She got defensive when I stuck my nose into her parenting (OK, it was my hand in her nest, but you get it). I know I get defensive when someone starts questioning or criticizing my parenting. I am not perfect, no parent is. I choose and act in the moment doing what I think is best for my child/family in the moment we are in. In a different moment I might choose differently. You might choose differently.
I promise from now on to not jump to assumptions or judgment when I see a parent doing their best, even if I disagree. I am not you and you are not me. My child is not yours and yours is not mine. We should be in this together. Will you promise too?
**Obviously I am not referring to abusive behaviors. Physical and emotional abuses are not acceptable and should be reported.