Sunday, March 6, 2011
A little Magic
Anyone who knows us well knows that we’ve kept goats on our small farm for about 4 years. It’s been a wonderful experience, amazing for the children and a huge learning curve.
Our goat keeping took a turn last month. Our beautiful doe, Maggie, who was our first, was pregnant and overdue. Finally, after 3 days of labour, she gave birth. The first was breach and died after a few breaths, the second came sideways and was rushed into our daughters to be taken care of and the third was stillborn. Not my usually upbeat post, right? Sorry.
Well, we thought the worst was over, “Magic”, the sole survivor, was taken back to his mother for a few minutes, and they cuddled and cooed together.
It was a beautiful thing to watch and as a woman and a mother I felt a strong instinct to let them have their time together. Where there is death there is life and to see them together seemed to give Maggie strength and we knew the birth had been hard on her. However, Magic had to be kept warm and Maggie couldn’t get up, so we brought him in for the night, promising Maggie she would see her son in the morning.
But life took a turn when the next morning we found Maggie had passed on, leaving her one remaining son, alone in the world.
From the prospect of having a milking goat with little kids running around, we found we had a little buck, solely dependant on us. It was a farming disaster on a logical place. We kept goats for the milk, and now we had to buy milk to keep goats. Well, we aren’t farmers really, whereas most farmers would have probably done away with the little fellow, we brought down our son’s crib (he’s a full time co-sleeper so didn’t need it) and for the last 3 weeks we’ve had a house goat. He slept with our daughters for the first week, cuddled in their arms for body heat, he became house trained, and played with all of us, all day long.
What could have been seen as a disaster of a plan gone wrong, in fact turned into a little miracle, who’s taken away the pain of our dog’s passing last fall. Joy and fun has filled the house again and we all are experiencing the greatest appreciation for little Magic.
But then the inevitable happened. Magic thrived. He went from the dependent infant to the little explorer who chased at our heels, to the bigger playful explorer, who at a month old stood taller then our little boy.
Magic started to look for further explorations, moving upstairs, knocking over laundry or garbage, chewing on papers and almost knocking over our 20 month old son.
The girls wanted to keep him in the house always (it has been known before) and actually take him with us on our road trip this summer but suddenly it seemed we were holding him back. He didn’t have that same sparkle in his eyes, in fact he seemed to be resenting us.
And so, yesterday, Magic moved out to the barn. There he had his Aunt and his half brother and sister. Suddenly he found out he was indeed a goat!! He was excited and bounced and played about, running as fast as he could.
If you go outside and call his name Magic comes running. He’ll follow you everywhere. We still give him his bottles 3 times a day and each time he’ll nestle in your arms, his nose under your chin. But he is happy in his new vantage point. He loves his new family, and he loves us still, probably more now since we’ve given him freedom.
Why am I telling you this long winded story?
Its taught me a valuable lesson about parenting, and although this experience has only been within a month, I find that at a slower pace, lasting years, my parenting of children will mirror the experience (minus turning them out to the barn, or them chewing paper… needless to say.)
If we had held on to Little Magic, determined to selfishly hold him in the place of dependency, having enjoyed his infancy so much, it would have gone wrong. He would have rebelled, and gotten angry, creating more havoc, we would have gotten frustrated and anxious. By trying to hold on to something that was bringing us joy we would have prevented the “new”, the new joy, the new adventure, the new moments, not only for ourselves but for Magic as well.
We tend to think of letting our children grow and expand all at once when they turn 18 and move out, when it really is a slow step by step process as we let them grow from babes in arms to little explorers to toddlers seeking independence, school children expressing themselves and so on. Each moment in our children’s lives are opportunities to find the “new”.
So although we miss our little infants, who depend on us to provide everything, we can enjoy their new discoveries and adventures. When we support their joys and look for ways to help them follow their bliss, we get the satisfaction of watching them thrive and leap for joy. And then, like Magic, even when they’ve grown, they will still run to us, happy to be back in our arms, knowing that when they want us to, those arms will be opened to let them explore again.