March 26th was an important day around our house. It began a watch. It started a vigil. It caused my husband and me to assume a sentinel attitude. Yes, what began that day would end in triumph or tragedy; and we were prepared to do our part to guarantee a jubilant outcome.
That day, like other spring days in the past several years, a mother duck found her way into our rose bed in our front yard. There, blending in with the brown wood-chips that cover the landscape, she hollowed out a spot for her nest at the base of her familiar yellow rose bush. After a few days of preparation, she laid her eggs.
My husband and I were delighted to see that our duck had returned. We had become the proud grandparents of grand-ducks in years past, and this year promised the same. She nestled down for the incubation; we nuzzled near the front window for observation. She was protected by her camouflage and her watchmen.
Mother seemed semi-comfortable with our presence. Several times a day we would exit the house to visit the nursery. We would greet her with soft words. Pleasant words or not, she kept her eyes fixed upon us, always examining us. “Sounds like a friend but could be a foe,” were undoubtedly her inner quacks. Or, maybe, she sized us up and thought, “It’s obvious to me who the real quacks are!”
Although she remained cautious, she stayed upon the nest. She did not fly away to protect herself. She did not abandon her vigil at the first hint of danger. She endured many hardships more threatening than the would-be grandparents. Several seasonal storms not only brought heavy downpours but also damaging winds. One time the sirens sounded with warnings about the potential for tornados. While my husband and I took cover in the basement, mother duck provided cover for her young. She faced the danger and endured in order to protect her eggs.
Then, just in time for Mother’s Day, our grand-ducks hatched. The day before delivery, mother duck was agitated. She did not greet us with the same cautiously warm acknowledgement; but, rather, she hissed so as to say, “Get out of my face.” From one mother to another, I so totally knew what she was saying. I remember the last stages of delivery of my children when my normally warm and friendly disposition changed to…enough said.
Throughout the night and into the next morning, the eggs hatched. At sunrise, we discovered 10 new baby ducks. Happy Mother’s Day! Ten new baby ducks! We took pictures. We congratulated mother duck. We congratulated each other. We took more pictures. It was a joyful ending to a journey fraught with danger. Before the sun set, babies followed mother to the lake behind our house where they have begun to grow and learn how to live ‘duck life’ from mom.
Mothers are God’s gift of life for the next generation. My mother endured hardships for me. She gave up Christmas one year to give birth to me; and every Christmas Day, she would re-tell the story of leaving the gifts under the tree and rushing to the hospital to welcome me into the world. I, following her example, tell each of my children of the hardships I faced on the day they were born. By now, my birthing tales are like fish stories that grow bigger with each telling!
Birthing, while paramount, is only one of the many sacrifices that mothers make to ensure that their babies arrive and develop in a secure environment. Throughout the duration of our growing-up process, our mothers are sizing up the things that come near the nest. “Sounds like a friend but could be a foe,” is undoubtedly the inner dialog of every mom. Throughout the storms of life, amidst the tempest of living, and against the winds of reality, moms are present to put their lives on the line to secure life for their children.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave . . .” Mothers are not gods, but they are a godly expression of the Heavenly Father’s love. A mother’s love is a giving love, a sheltering love and a protecting love. Happy Mother’s Day!