(This article first appeared in the Phoenix Landing Foundation Newsletter a couple of years ago and has since been reprinted by other Parrot Rescue Groups.)
Just One of Those Days
By Patricia Sund
I just didn’t feel like it that morning. I didn’t want to feed a bird, look at a bird, clean a cage, hear any incessant chirping or listen to “Andy Griffith” yet one more time. I was over it.
I’d hit the wall. I was done. I’d had it.
It was one of those mornings where I had declared to Parker and Pepper, “Okay, that’s it. It’s toast for everyone!”
I would then proceed to toast some whole grain bread, spread peanut butter sprinkled with a fresh, fine ground veggie mix on it and slap it into the bowls mounted on their play stands. My birds love these mornings because they love toast. They pick up the piece of toast in their feet while they delicately and joyfully crunch away. It is truly hilarious to watch. But then I would feel guilty because I was a lazy caregiver. To me, if they were human, it would have been like handing them one of those microwave breakfast sandwiches to your kid. (Oh my God! They didn’t get their broccoli! No flax seed oil! I forgot about their calcium supplement! I am a horrible person!)
I’m thinking to myself, “What have I done?”
I used to be able to not worry about who would take care of things. I could go to work at my job as a Flight Attendant and come back 3 days later and not worry or even care if the place burned down. My electrical bill is sky high in the summer because I have to run the air conditioning all the time just for the birds. I used to just turn the thing off when I left. No more.
I am constantly chopping up vegetables, cleaning up bird crap, showering them and doing laundry. I’m training parrots, reading about parrots, writing about them, cleaning, feeding them, and sweeping up after them.
Website surfing consists of surfing for articles about parrot training, behavior, and looking for the perfect toy.
I’m struggling to even pay my bills not because of money but because I forget to sit down and pay them.
I worried about spending enough time with my relinquished Grey Pepper to get her better socialized while worrying that this time devoted to Pepper was neglectful to Parker my first Grey.
I’m concerned when they don’t eat all their vegetables. Clearly, I’m an idiot.
I worry about the crap diet Pepper was on and I’m having trouble with transferring her over to fresh food.
I worry if I’m ever going to get all of this right.
I concern myself with whether I should audit Dr. Susan Friedman’s class “Living and Leaning with Parrots” to make sure I really know the material I learned the first time around. I wonder if my Grey is getting enough calcium. I get depressed because the local Humane Society can’t see how I could be of any help to their program because I have birds and they mostly concern themselves with dogs and cats. I live in an area of the country where companion birds are not only commonly kept, but bred, and I have to fly to other parts of the country to be of any use to a Parrot rescue team. I only have 2 birds and I feel overwhelmed. I keep wondering how my Friends who run and work at adoption and rescue organizations manage to get anything done.
How in God’s name do Ann Brooks or Vicky Clem of Phoenix Landing make it through the day? How Does Lisa at AERAS manage to remain sane? Where do Leigh Matejka and Susan Kray at Cleveland PEAC find the moxie to get up every damned day and handle such challenges with about a million more birds than I do? Why am I such a wimp?
A few months back, I flew up to Washington to pick up some Cockatiels from Vicky Clem who works with Phoenix Landing. I had found homes for them down here in Florida and I had flown up to bring them back to their new home. The birds were being fostered at a senior citizen’s home and after picking them up, we went back to Vicky’s house. If I remember correctly, she had 29 parrots residing in her home, along with 2 dogs, 2 kids and some hamsters. I couldn’t believe it. I was in awe as I watched her whiz around the Kitchen and take care of things like this was nothing. The phone was ringing, dogs were barking, parrots Squawking, kids running in and out of the house, and she’s happily slamming something into the oven for her kid’s dinner while yakking on the phone with a couple of Phoenix Landing volunteers making arrangements for us to go to dinner. I just stood back out of the way, petting Topaz, the Cockatoo while watching in absolute amazement.
That morning, I sat on the couch and looked at the birds while Parker and Pepper happily crunched away at their toast. I watched Parker fling the rest of his toast over the side of his stand onto the carpeting (which of course lands peanut butter-side down) and climb down to the edge of the stand. He hovers, squats and then proceeds to crap on the toast like he was a B52 Bomber squadron making a bulls eye hit.
Looking up at me, he proudly announces “Parker!”
As I got up to retrieve the heavy artillery cleaner from the kitchen for the carpeting, (I haven’t gotten around to installing wood or tile, but at this point I’d be willing to strip it down to the cement…) I think about Leah, Susan, Ann, Vicky, Lisa and all those other terrific people I’ve met that have endless energy, boundless ambition and the hearts of eagles. They would laugh like Hyenas at me for feeling this way.
They would think the way I’m looking at things this morning is a waste of time and if I want to get over it and move on I should do something about it.
Sharing your home with a parrot is a never-ending cycle of cleaning, feeding, training, and preparing food. They don’t move out when they are 18. They can’t take care of themselves. They depend on you, and that can sometimes become frustrating. That was the way I was feeling that morning. But I got over it and moved on like I usually do. I realized that sometimes life gets to you. You want to have birds in your life, but it gets to be a bit much at times. Get up, get out, get on and get over it. The feeling will pass just like it did for me that morning. I realized that the carpeting didn’t care if it got crapped yet again, and to be honest, at this point, I didn’t really care either. What mattered most was the big picture.
Edna St. Vincent Millay once said: “It’s not true that life is one damn thing after another; it’s one damn thing over and over.”
I get more happiness from having those 2 birds in my life than having a clean carpet. The carpet doesn’t give a damn about me, but Parker and Pepper care very much about me and demonstrate that to me every day. And if my big problem at the moment was the daily tedium of taking care of my beautiful companions, then I was indeed a very lucky woman.
Don’t let that “I got the blues” moment get to you. It will pass. And if it’s one of “those” mornings, just remember: there’s always toast.
Patricia lives in Hollywood, FL