The Chicken and the Egg
I was only two years younger than Brooke Shields when the world was
staring at her scantily clothed body in Calvin Klein ads. I had heard
about Pretty Baby, but of course hadn't seen the movie. A caring,
responsible mother didn't allow her child to view such inappropriate
material - let alone allow her to star in it. However, Brooke's mother
wasn't your usual caring, responsible mother. Unable to make the
transition into acting after being a successful model, she had high
hopes for her daughter. It's a dangerous and insidious business, this
drive for immortality. It usually isn't as obvious as thrusting one's
naked daughter in front of a camera; instead, it tends to come in the
form of quiet and not so quiet expectations. We expect our daughters to
share our interests and to take advantage of the extraordinary
opportunities we provide them.
Let's take chickens as an example. Last spring, I suggested to my
ten-year-old daughter, Ari, that we raise chickens in our backyard. I
had fantasized about the look of sheer happiness on her face, her wide
eyes dancing for joy under arched brows, the toothy grin, when I told
her of our upcoming fun with fowl.
My daughter had no idea how lucky she was to have an impractical mother.
I was the kind of mother other kids dreamed about having. Our house was
filled with dogs, cats, rabbits, and reptiles. And now, I was ready to
add chickens to the menagerie. Undeterred, I described the chicken coop
we'd build together. My daughter would witness dynamic role modeling in
action: my husband would busy himself in the kitchen preparing a hearty
meal for his wood-working women, while us wood-working women would build
the kind of house in which a hen would be proud to lay eggs. I imagined
flexing our muscles under a blazing sun, while sweat dripped down our
backs as the charming chicken chalet took shape.
I was not prepared for the grimace. "You are totally nuts. Like we don't
have enough animals. We are NOT raising chickens. I hate chickens!" she
My offspring, to whom at the moment I could see no resemblance, then
told me in no uncertain terms that she planned on spending her summer
vacation taking a photography class and working on her scrap books. She
then shushed me so that she could get back to watching Martha Stewart, a
program she would later discuss with my mother. She was learning how to
stencil intricate hieroglyphics on the borders of her math assignment,
pausing only momentarily to complain about her teacher not using
"Imagine," I teased, trying to entice her, "raising baby chicks, cute
little downy yellow babes that would follow us around, imprinting on us.
When they're adults, we'd have fresh eggs."
"They're noisy, smelly, and poop everywhere," she countered. "Why can't
we get eggs from Trader Joe's like everybody else?"
I was starting to think that Brooke's mother had gotten a bad rap.
Brooke probably would have found chickens messy as well. Or perhaps,
Brooke would have thanked God Almighty for a mother such as myself. Yes,
Brooke probably would have enjoyed raising a speckled Sussex or a buff
Unable to let my dreams for my child go, I called my mother for moral
support. Though not exactly supportive of the chicken idea, she did
reveal that Martha Stewart owned chickens: Auracanas and Ameraucanas.
They laid gorgeous eggs in colors like sage, olive, salmon, and
cerulean, my mother told me. "As a matter fact, Martha has a whole line
of paints based on her biddies' eggs," she said.
Well of course Martha does.
At dinner that night, I decided to introduce Martha's pets as a topic of
conversation. More subtle than a feather gently gliding through the air,
I wove chickens into our discussion. I commented on Martha's artistic
spirit, her poetic world-view, and great business sense. "Imagine seeing
the walls of one's domestic habitat bathed in the same shades and hues
as Nature herself has produced. How clever to see an eggshell as a thing
of beauty. Auraucanas must produce eggs worthy of a photograph, probably
a whole album full," I said.
Ari rolled her eyes. "Mom," she sighed, "if it means that much to you,
get the chickens, okay?"
I knew she'd come around. I knew the full magnitude of the epiphany
would hit her: she had one fantastic mom, who was making her childhood
dreams - the daughter's dreams, that is - come true. I began sharing my
plans for the chicken coop with her.
"You do know that I don't work for free. You will be paying me for this,
right?" she asked.
Her voice dripped with love and tenderness. She was probably mentally
writing her nomination letter for the "Mother of the Year" contest right
now. And I'd accept it. After all, everything we do as mothers, we do
© Victoria Lorrekovich
Victoria A. Lorrekovich is a freelance writer in the California Bay
Area. She writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults as well
as reviews books for MultiCultural Review. Her article, "Free the
Breast" was previously published by Moxie. She's working on two
anthologies: one on parenting and one on life with pets. Her goal is to
be able to sustain herself with her writing so that she can work at home
surrounded by her fur- and feather-covered support staff. Of course,
strict decorum will be imposed by her no-nonsense ten-year-old daughter.
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