It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Bird!

Because it wasn’t raining Sunday morning, as it had been for 40 days and 40 nights in the Chicago-area, I sat outside by the pool with my dogs, a cup of coffee, and my laptop. I consider that to be a perfect way to start my day.

As I read e mails and blogs I heard a flapping noise right over my head and then a flopping noise coming from the pool. A bird had crash-landed in our pool and had obviously not been given swimming lessons as a gelding, or whatever you call a baby bird.

I grabbed the first thing I could find, which was a very small skimming net with a short handle, and ran over to try to coax the bird out of the water. I knelt down and sort of offered the net to the bird, which seemed like a stupid and hopeless thing to do. I knew I could never get close enough to save this bird, but it had other plans. It flopped on over to me and hopped right onto the little net.

It stayed on the net as I brought it over to the garden to dry out. It didn’t fly away and seemed perfectly happy and untraumatized. I can’t say the same for me.

Protecting his identity

Protecting his identity

It finally dawned on me that this was not your garden variety wild bird. Slowly I realized that what I was looking at was a pet-store-type bird; it even had a little band around its leg.

It was happy just hanging out in the garden, and then suddenly took off and flew right into one of our sliding glass doors. Fearing the worst, I went to assess the damage. The bird was totally fine and unfazed. I extended my finger and it climbed onto it. It was beautiful. I began to lactate.

It flew into a nearby bush at which time I realized:

1. I was home alone with no one to help me.

2. I have two dogs.

3. They slept outside through the entire search and rescue.

4.  I should take the dogs inside just in case they noticed the bird and wondered if it tasted like chicken.

5. I was still in my jammies.

6. I could feel the presence of our resident Cooper’s Hawk and, because I am a bird whisperer, knew I had better get the bird to a secure, undisclosed location before it became an amuse-bouche.

7. I don’t know nothin bout raisin no birds.

It turned its little head onto its little back and went to sleep on one of the little branches of the little bush. I took that opportunity to calmly lead the dogs inside, find a basket, get the mesh dome we usually use to keep flies out of the humus when we’re outside snacking, and a plastic cup of water.

Making sure the dogs didn’t follow me outside I walked over to check the bush, praying the bird was still there. It was still snoozing away. When it awoke I offered it a stick — hoping it would hop aboard, which it did — and placed it into the basket. I gently tossed in a few handfuls of grass and sticks and then poured water from the cup into the basket. The bird came up to the cup and drank the water as I was pouring it.

After it finished drinking, I placed the cup of water into the basket and then topped it off with the mesh dome. Knowing the bird was safe, I stayed with it while calling neighbors to see if anyone was minus a bird.

No one was. I called one of the local pet stores to see if they would take it in, but they wouldn’t. My friend Roberta told me to “tweet” on Twitter and post on Facebook about it to see if I’d get any nibbles. Not even a peep.

My friend, and bird enthusiast, Art came over to help. He immediately identified the bird as a male parakeet. I asked him to walk over to our neighbor’s house where an estate sale was in progress. Perhaps the bird had escaped in the midst of all the commotion taking place at their house.

But it wasn’t their bird or anyone else’s.

I called my mother who said, “Have you considered just asking the bird what its name is”? She is so smart, but the bird was not. It didn’t appear to know its name.

Finally Joanne, one of my neighbors, called to tell me she would take the bird for her 15-year-old daughter if no one claimed it, but she couldn’t get it until the next day. She said she had a cage but needed to find it in her attic, and wanted to get the appropriate parakeet accoutrements so it would be happy in its new home. I breathed a sigh of relief; the bird relieved itself in the cup of water.

As soon as Richard came home I asked him to watch the bird, even though it was safe in the MacGyver-style cage I had fashioned. I went to the pet store to buy parakeet food and, of course, a parakeet toy.

That bird ate like a …much bigger bird. It stuck its head into the bowl of food and didn’t come up for air for ten minutes.

I had plans with Rosa, who happens to be Art’s wife, that afternoon. She and Art offered me one of their bird cages to use until Joanne could locate her cage. The bird loved the cage because he had the freedom to fly around, eat, drink, and crap. Isn’t that what we all want?

The bird rested comfortably in the cage in my office that night. Meanwhile, the dogs still had no idea there was a bird living in the house.

Joanne, her husband, and their daughter came over last night to pick up the bird. I have never seen anyone as happy as their daughter was. As soon as she walked into the house, before she even saw the bird, her smile was so big I could see each and every one of her teeth. I should probably tell Joanne that from what I saw she should have her daughter’s wisdom teeth looked at.

Later that night Joanne called to tell me they had named the bird “Zed” and that everyone was doing well. I was exhausted. I had spent most of the day sitting in a pile of dirt babysitting a parakeet while in my jammies. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

Getting Laid Off

My son is excited to be leaving for college in a few weeks. Me? Not so much. Yes, I’m excited for him; I’m just not that excited for me.

It really doesn’t help when people tell me, “You’ve done a good job! He’s ready to go to school! You should be happy for him! This is how it’s supposed to be”.

Yes, but I didn’t expect to lose my job.

I know I’m not technically losing my job, but after spending the past 24 years either being pregnant or caring for my children, it’s hard for me not to feel as if I’ve been fired.

Technically, I’ve never been fired from a job, so I don’t really know what that feels like, but I can pretty much imagine based on the way I’ve been feeling lately, which is a combination of sad, lonely, and nauseated.

The nausea is like “the bookends of being a mother” because I spent both pregnancies nauseated, and here I am again, feeling my stomach lurch its contents toward my throat all day every day.

I know he’ll come home. Even though he says he’ll see me in November, I know he’ll be home before then. But that doesn’t make me feel better about this because soon he won’t be here every day. As it is, I hardly see him at all because he lives in the basement (by choice), and we tend to come and go at different hours. But at least I know he’s here.

I know because I occasionally see his shoes by the back door, usually with Miles’, Kush’s, or any number of his friends’ shoes. I know because the Gummy Bears are all gone, and scribbled on the grocery list in his handwriting is, “Lucky Charms”, “Cinnamon Toast Crunch”, and “Powerade Zero”.

I try cooking his favorite things so that maybe he’ll be home more often for dinner, but I’m such a lousy cook that I can’t blame him for going to a different friend’s house almost every night.

I will learn to cook while he learns about life as a college student. I will be working on my new website and trying to navigate social media while he works to get good grades and navigate a new social life.

I’ve done this before. My daughter went away to school. I handled that transition by openly sobbing as I walked aimlessly through the aisles of Target. Now she lives at home, which is good because I’ll still have one of them here, at least for a little while. But this is the last time I’ll be doing this. Unless my dogs get accepted to a university, I’m out of kids to send away.

Richard walks around the house squealing, “I can’t wait to be an empty-nester” for all to hear, which bugs the crap out of me. I’m not ready, yet, and even if I were, I don’t think it’s appropriate to burst out into song and dance about it in front of the kids.

I am a little surprised by my reaction to the upcoming unpleasantries (for me) because it’s not like I was a helicopter-y stay-at-home mom who did everything for her kids. My kids have been washing, drying, and putting away their own laundry for years, mostly because I tend to turn things pink, but the point is they are fairly independent.

I had a fabulously fun job at the local park district teaching kindergartners whatever I was asked to teach them for the past nine years. I wasn’t always home when the kids came home from school, and sometimes worked special events in the evenings and on weekends.

My kids can cook, drive themselves where they need to be, and make their own doctor appointments. They share a car and are pretty good about making arrangements with each other without parental involvement when it comes to who needs the car for work and when.

They regularly load and unload the dishwasher, and even take care of the dogs if we are out of town — And both dogs take medication twice a day! Maybe those things don’t sound all that impressive, but I’m proud of them for being able to take care of basic things like that.

I guess I have done my job well. I’m just not ready to stop doing it.

Note: If you leave a comment calling me a big baby, I promise you I won’t approve it.