The Chicken and the Egg

Victoria Lorrekovich

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 spat.

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 acid-free paper.

"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 Orpington.

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 for them.

© 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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