Raising Kids is Like Being Slowly Pecked to Death by a Chicken

Kristi Keller


Photo by Henley Design Studio on Unsplash

The other day I hauled four big trash bags off to the local donation center. They were mostly full of clothing I no longer wanted (or got too Covid-fat to wear). One bag was also filled with a few household items I no longer needed.

Inside one of the bags I found a wooden wall plaque I’d forgotten I ever owned. I used to display it prominently in my living room for many years. It donned an animated picture of a hen and words that read,

“Raising kids is like being slowly pecked to death by a chicken.”

Of course, I no longer needed that piece of eclectic artwork that belonged more in a hillbilly cabin in the backwoods .

Before I discarded it I couldn’t help but wonder if it was an ominous foreshadowing of all the things that would eventually go wrong in my parenting years.

My son was no idiot. He could read. I wondered if reading that plaque every day for many years is what subconsciously turned him into the wild child that he was most of his life?

Maybe he thought, “Since this wench thinks raising me is equivalent to some redneck form of torture, I’ll give her a run for her money.”

I bought the plaque from a home party that sold all kinds of country-style home decor and useful household products. I could have chosen to buy a crockpot but instead, this wall plaque screamed to the inner part of my soul that never planned on becoming a parent.

It was well worth the inflated home party price I paid for it. No other moms would be bold (nor honest) enough to admit to the kind of statement this wall plaque made.

Let’s get three things straight before you get all ‘OMG this ungrateful blockhead never should have been given reproductive rights!’

  1. My son has always been and will always be my BFF. We are ride-or-die.
  2. He doesn’t read my articles, but even if he did he’d say, “Yup, that’s my mom to a T.”
  3. I’m certainly not the only mother to admit that motherhood wasn’t the most incredible thing that ever happened to me.

We don’t all get the chance to enjoy parenting the same way.

In a perfect world, we’d all be given the same start in the parenting race, but that’s not the way life works. Some of us had to do lots of responsible backpedaling after making the irresponsible choice of creating a baby.

But let’s just call a spade a spade. Some of us parented better than our kids’ hockey coaches coached. I mean, who benches an 11-year-old boy because his mother has a job that made the child show up late to practice?

Way to go, coach. Punish the child whose mother goes to work for a living.

Oh, and that sport they call hockey? The most expensive sport on the planet for a child to be involved in? Some of us single moms worked endless volunteer bingo hours in order to subsidize the cost. Rich parents will never know the struggle.

Single moms can’t afford Kraft cheese strings so instead, we pack generic cheese snacks in their lunch boxes. Generic cheese doesn’t peel and stretch like the real stuff so our kids suffer through the shattering identity crisis of having a frugal parent.

Little did we know then that twenty years later, he and I would be laughing fondly over his “cardboard lunch snacks” and hash-brown surprises for dinner.

My child was the only 6-year-old in karate class who translated non-contact sparring into “punch the other kids in the head.”

He was also the only kid who insisted on wearing a collared shirt and tie to his first day of grade one, and then threw a fit because the other kids wore jeans and t-shirts.

He continued to throw fits in grade one because all the other kids wouldn’t shut up and let him do his school work.

But long before grade one, I also had the 5-year-old who drew an actual map of an escape route from preschool and executed it flawlessly. No one even knew he was missing until my next-door neighbor phoned me at work and asked why my son was playing in the front yard when no one was home.

Yup, he successfully escaped the confines of daycare and made the six block journey to the familiarity of home. All by himself.

I also have ultra fond memories of when he found a container of pepper spray in a drawer at his day home, then proceeded to spray himself and other kids with it. In hindsight, why in the actual hell was there pepper spray in a care facility for children?

This was also the same little boy who would fall asleep at the dinner table with a grilled cheese sandwich in his hand, rather than being able to spend quality evening time with his mother.

It crushed my heart that I had to spend most of my waking hours at work, away from my child.

While I may not have been a PTA kind of mother, I’ll be damned if I didn’t win the award for being the mother who showed up at the most school suspension meetings.

That’s right, I showed up for every single one of them. Not because I was a hero but because I cared about his well being. Plenty of other parents may blindly punish a kid for obtuse behavior but I actually wanted to know why.

After completing the fiery hell of school years with a wild child, the chicken-pecking continued when my 18-year-old flew to Europe for a month without a dollar in his pocket.

He cunningly knew I’d be scared into submission and wire a continuous flow of cash so he’d have places to sleep while jaunting around six countries and dipping his toes into Amsterdam’s red light district.

So you see, I may not have baked any cupcakes but it’s not because I didn’t want to. It’s because parenting wasn’t necessarily cupcake material for me. However, I did pay a hundred dollars for a damn fine, custom DJ turntable cake for his 18th birthday. It was Pinterest worthy for damn sure.

Many of us never went the planned parenthood route on purpose, with intention. But we did the best we could with what we had and we certainly didn’t love our children any less.

There are boatloads of mothers out there whose life purpose was to spawn children and enjoy the hell out of the process. I applaud those mothers, I wasn’t one of them.

Then we have the moms who highly anticipated motherhood only to have the bandaid ripped away when they find out it’s not everything they dreamed of and more. For us, it was more like spawning children of the corn.

To all the parents who have been or are currently being pecked to death by a chicken named Parenthood, I salute you. I know it’s not your gig either but here we are.

You’ll make it, I promise.

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I'm an old school travel writer who's been flung into another writing world through life experience. I have a compassionate eye, a different opinion, and strong words for this world we live in. I also know a thing or two.


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