Story of Mama Hen

Once in awhile Hubby complains a leeee-tle bit about my spending so much time on my blog postings (& reading others’ blogs), enough that I have considered quitting once or twice. But something that I can’t explain, can’t quite put my finger on, keeps me going. Then a small little incident such as happened this morning at breakfast as we were devouring our respective papers and coffee gives me a glimmer of understanding as to why I can’t resist the temptation of storytelling–even if no one listens. It’s because of those chickens I took care of while I was growing up. Unwittingly those chickens, mama hens particularly, were a part my inspiration.

I had finished my daily newspaper and had just picked up my current book, another Florida history, and became mired in school statistics for Columbia Country in the early 1900s. Even though it would be nearly 50 years before I wound up in one of those same schools, it was beginning to dawn on me why my country school did a pretty lousy job of preparing me for the world to come. Suddenly Hubby handed me a portion of the Financial Times he reads.

There are some letters to the editor here that follow up on the happiness thing you posted on your blog last week that you may be interested in,” he said. Then he jerked it back and said, “but first let me read what Lucy Kellaway has to say.” He’d almost forgotten since her column appears only 2 or 3 times a week. “She’s getting pretty brave these days in her writing.”

Lucy Kellaway is a Financial Times columnist who writes articles about “work,” very much like a printed blog rather than one blasted online like mine. She has a knack for couching her remarks with subtle humor and I rather like her too. Her column today is about two similarly written motivational booklets, one is Mao’s Little Red Book and the other Deloitte‘s The Little Blue Book of Strategy.”

What do you mean?” I say. “She’s getting more outspoken?”

Yeah, something like that. Oh well, she’s approaching 50,” he said as if that explained everything.

Oh!” It was probably around the time I turned 50 that I began to be more verbal in generally complaining that things in the world weren’t fair. I remember that being about the age my own mother began to be more outspoken as well.

Suddenly a very distinct picture from childhood pops into my head. I see a little red hen in a barnyard with a dozen little biddies scattered about her feet pipping away contentedly as they watch mama hen scratch for a few delectable bites of something to eat from the sandy soil. Not unlike human children, they’re all eager to be the first in line for handouts. Where’s Dad? Then I hear the distinct sound of crowing coming from elsewhere in the yard.

Now it’s perfectly clear why women who start out docile and uncomplaining usually get a little age on them before they suddenly become, to the bewilderment of their spouses, more forceful with their opinions.

All the time that mama hen is so busy laying eggs and raising her biddies she has no time to wonder and worry about the rest of the barnyard. No wonder you find her sometimes nodding off sitting on yet another bunch of eggs while the roosters are all off somewhere else, even at times trying to catch a ride on another, often younger, chicken. Wait, it gets worse! In the real world of my childhood, after mama’s unable to keep on producing and raising her biddies, she winds up in a casserole on the dinner table one fine Sunday. While rooster’s still out in the barnyard and still crowing.

As for mama hen, I wish I could have warned her all those years ago. Instead of outliving her usefulness and winding up in a casserole–she ought to have started crowing a lot sooner. Would have confused the farmer at the very least. She may even have enjoyed a few more good years of crowing, kind of like my writing is my way of crowing–and maybe even being heard–in my old age.

6 thoughts on “Story of Mama Hen

  1. I think it’s very important that we elders keep blogging. It goes back to that invisibility thing. I refuse to fade away.

    I think I had a brief period of about 4 years after I got married when I kept my opinions to myself. I finally couldn’t stand it. My husband was quite shocked as I began forcibly expressing myself, but he learned to live with it. But I did get worse when I hit fifty.

  2. I was just graduating high school when you turned 50. Maybe that’s why I didn’t have to wait until I’m 50…I had a good model for being outspoken in my late teens and early 20s!

  3. OH, THIS is really good! Bravo to you, Alice!
    What a great story and a great lesson for women.
    And I say……’s to OUR crowing! LOUD and strong!

  4. PS….and what a sincere, wonderful, compliment from your daughter! My one and only daughter is also very outspoken, so I think they DO learn from us as role models.

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