OMG! It's a rat!!
I share with my mom the absolute paralysing fear of rats and with her add to that list mice. Me, it's bats. I do not do rats or bats.
I still regard The Secret of Nimh as the real deal. 🥴
"Kids get behind me!"
Mom urgently ushered us into the living room of our double wide mobile home, standing guard at the 'door' between the living room/dining room/study/kitchen armed with the avacado coloured broom.
The broom handle and bristles matched the shag pile carpet in the living room, which also incidentally, matched the bathroom suite - *sigh* you gotta love the 70's for its decor. I hear whispers of a revival?... I digress....
It was a hot summer's day and we had just returned from having coffee at a friend of my mom's where the visit was as much to catch up, as to get out of the heat box.
Then, even though the homestead is situated in 'downtown' Cloverdale - the crossroads of the 2 major roads into the town of Selkirk and the City of Winnipeg, it was still a trustworthy rural mentality of not locking doors and even leaving doors wide open as we had done that day. This let the wind blow through - door through to windows - and cool things down in our metal clad home.
Our unapologetically 70s mustard coloured fridge, which matched the stove, washer and dryer was being defrosted, manually. For those who have only ever seen a self-defrosting fridge, this consisted of a tea towel thrown over the door at the hinge end so the door of the fridge could not close completely. This would have to happen every once in while when things were frosting up or getting frozen in the back.
It was lunchtime and Mom was collecting things from the cupboards to make our lunches.
She turned around to get something from the fridge, opened the door and their he was. Sitting atop of her freshly washed, plucked from the garden carrots in the vegetable crisper, lining the bottom.
"OMG! It's a rat!" she screamed.
Mom slammed the fridge door, which ofcourse couldn't slam because of the tea towel stopper and bounced right back open to reveal a brown furred animal, long black skin textured tail and two beady eyes. The biggest rat she had ever seen.
In actual fact, it was a muskrat, which isn't a rat at all, although still a rodent, it is aquatic and resembles a beaver, really. It's the long skinny tail that takes you to the rat family instead of the beaver who sports the familiar flat tail. We have a marsh nearby, so it was concluded he must have been from there looking for food or water, or both. How he got into the fully enclosed porch, up the steps and in through the door and into the fridge, still remains a mystery.
The Common Muskrat -The muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) is a medium-sized semiaquatic rodent native to North America and an introduced species in parts of Europe, Asia, and South America. The muskrat is found in wetlands over a wide range of climates and habitats. It has important effects on the ecology of wetlands, and is a resource of food and fur for humans. - Wikipedia
Wait! Food FOR humans? 🤢
Mom grabbed the broom and stalked towards the fridge. She bravely tore the towel from its job as the wedge and properly slammed and trapped the rodent in the cool box.
He, who was holding court on a pile of carrots.
The rest is a blur if I'm honest. There was a hysterical telephone call into Dad's work...actually two, after the wait for Dad to come home was deemed too long and when Mom phoned again, the receptionist said, "oh! It's YOU, Pam!".
"I'm sure it's just a rat," Dad mused once the phone had been handed to him.
"Tom, if the rats are that big, we are moving!" Mom countered. "Get home, now!"
There was an opportunistic photo of my mom perched on the desk taken by my father before he dealt with the beast. And then the cursing of my mother as she cleaned the fridge of all the nastiness that she scared out of the poor thing all over the fridge and food.
Mom the Warrior
Here on Mothering Sunday I'm giggling remembering both my mom's warrior stance and fierce protection over us in that doorway, broom-sword aloft, and then her vulnerability once someone else was there to take over. And that is how motherhood should be. That a woman's strength is demonstrated in so many different ways.
It is she, as my role model, that I look to be strong, if not optimistic, in tough times, for my kids to show them that everything is 'workoutable'. That we just need to take a beat, and work the problem, not to be a victim.
But also, to show that vulnerability is ok and that asking for help is not weakness, it is about creating a team of collective skills to get things done. That being part of a solution using your skill strengths is just as strong. That we don't need to lead all the time to count.
I have done my utmost to create independent women and hope that I am somewhat of a help that way towards the grandkids. I am equally proud that they know and feel they can come to me for advice, not necessarily the answer, or the answer they want to hear, but someone to engage with, work the problem and find a solution, even if it's temporary (a word a loath, but sometimes is necessary)
So thanks Mom! And I know you've taken some ribbing over Mr Fat Rat, the Muskrat over the years. Know this.... all the strength I can and have ever demonstrated over my lifetime has been because you and Dad have shown me how to work through it, to trust my instincts, and that there is a lesson in everything: win, lose or draw.
Happy Mother's Day.