On Sunday, my youngest daughter, Madilyn, checked on her ducks like she usually does. One of our females has recently hatched some of her eggs. Unfortunately, her sister was also sneaking a few eggs into the nest so we have had several ducklings who didn’t hatch at the same time. Madi has been diligent in checking for new hatchlings because the bigger the gap gets between the already hatched and the newly hatched, the more dangerous things become. Not always, but sometimes, mama will abandon newer hatchlings because she has to take the older ducks out to graze and swim. On Friday night she noticed a new duckling had poked a small starter hole in his shell. By Saturday, late afternoon the shell was cracked in half, but the duckling hadn’t fully emerged, and by Sunday morning it hadn’t progressed. My husband decided to help it along and open up the shell a little more. Sunday afternoon when we returned home from church Madi and Matt went to check on the new duckling, but couldn’t find it anywhere. They completely removed the mama duck from the coop, along with the older babies so they could search more thoroughly. They found the small duckling buried in the hay of the nest. Still ‘wet’ looking, barely moving but alive. Madi immediately brought him in to me and said she was going to try to save him.
I know how attached Madi gets to animals and told her to be cautiously optimistic for this babies survival. She said she knew he might not make it but she had to try. She made a little pouch to carry him close to her, rubbed his feathers gently with water and used a medicine syringe to give him little drops of water in his bill every 20 minutes. She kept him warm and dry and watched over him day and night. He was progressing and doing well, he fluffed up, could hold his head and even started walking after 3 days. Yesterday it seemed like he was going to make it, he was eating and drinking, going to the bathroom and loved to bite at anything that looked like food.
I had left early this morning to meet a friend for prayer. I got so many phone calls from home that I finally answered and heard Madi crying on the other end, her duck had died in the night. I left immediately and headed home. On the way I cried out to God and asked Him to help me know how to comfort her, to give me words to say and protection over her mind. Madi is very hard on herself and I knew the possibility of regret and questions of why had the potential to be so damaging to her. She has such a huge capacity for love that carries with it a huge capacity for hurt.
When I got home she was sitting with her sister and I hugged them both and began to pray for her, for all of us really. I thanked God for Madi and her heart, for the way God made her to care for all the things He has made. I thanked Him that we got those fun few days of duck snuggles and that God brings us comfort in our pain, because He knows what it is to hurt. When I finished praying Madi looked up at me and said that when she had found him and realized what happened she got out her bible and opened to Psalms 73:26 and read,
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.”
She shared with me what a comfort that was to her to read. I hugged her and then went to my room where I wept. Not for the sadness, which I had, but because I realized that while I was praying that God would help me comfort my child, HE already had. All the time raising and mothering that I have spent I have realized that God is the true parent. God cares for them first, loves them better, and can do infinitely more for their lives than I could dream of doing. What kind of God shares that with me? What a blessing that He reminds me in this circumstance that pointing them to Him is the job I’ve been given, and let’s me see a glimpse of that in my daughter’s heart. Carrying their burdens is a job I don’t have to do alone, wasn’t designed to do alone. Not only does God care for her, and my other children, but me as well.
I am praying for any mother who reads this, may you be encouraged in knowing that you are not alone…never alone. God is always there and will give you moments to see His grace each and every day!