Leaving Mama

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 12, 2008

They drop calves around October.

The first aroma that passes that young calf’s nose is of that cow.

The first time he feels another creature touch him is that nice long lick from mom.

The first thing that slides down his

young throat is the delectable warm enchanting milk that flows straight from the inner workings of his mama.

And thus — from day one — the incredible bonding begins.

He sleeps and she’s right there. He awakes and there she is. He scampers a few yards across the pasture, and she keeps him in her sights. When he’s hungry, there’s mama. He hears her voice and can pick it out from a hundred others. She hears a hundred calves and knows her own. Every day and night they are constant companions, giving each other joy and pleasure and that so-natural companionship.

November. December. He now weighs 200 pounds. January. February. March. He is 300 pounds. April.


June. Five hundred pounds.

He has spent all of his known life — seven full months — with that nurturing, irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind creature known as Mom.

But June has come. And June is weaning month. It’s the time when he moves from milk to solid food, from closeness to distance, from dependency to autonomy.

It’s the time he goes on his own and looks out for himself, makes his own friends, and establishes his own identity. It’s the time he’s forced to grow up. But it doesn’t come easy. He bleats for three days and three nights. He walks around looking and wondering and wanting.

And gradually — very gradually — he accepts his lot.

And he’s on his own.

And so it is with us. We are called — at some point in life— to leave mom.

To leave all that is nurturing and nuzzling and secure in order to become nurturing and secure ourselves.

To cut those ropes that are so strong in order to become stronger.

How well we do this plays out in marriages and finances and jobs and relationships.

It can catapult us to the stars or anchor us to the ocean bottom. It can energize our soul to what can be, or generate a “bleating” for what we once had.

So I’d say, when weaning day comes, give yourself about three days of contemplation, then start wandering on your own. Start eating solid food. Make your own place in the world. Explore. Create. Imagine. You’re in green pastures.

Rex alphin is a farmer, businessman and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His e-mail address is rexalphin@aol.com.