(A reminder that non-human animals (because we, of course, are animals as well) experience fear and other emotions. Which is why we should treat them – and each other – as we’d want to be treated ourselves (e.g., the “Golden Rule”). – promoted by lowkell)
As Mothers’ Day approaches, I am musing on a special, one-of-a-kind memory.
First, a little background. I hate it when there are mice in our house. The sound of scrabbling little feet during the night or a surprise encounter when I open the pantry door gives me the creeps. My husband and I work at keeping the little critters away, and when our efforts fail, I get angry.
Given my feelings about sharing our home with these uninvited guests, the following experience made such an impression on me that I will never forget it.
It happened back in 2008. My husband and I were preparing to move from Albuquerque back to our home here in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The house was in an uproar of half-packed boxes and piles of stuff.
The garage too, was in its own state of upheaval. Dark, dusty crannies that for years had held unused or forgotten items, were now in tumult, thanks to our rummaging to clear things out.
Then one evening, I ran from the house into the garage to fetch another packing box. Flinging open the door, I switched on the light. Immediately I froze, gasping. For, staring at me from the other side of the garage was a large, brown mouse. She too was frozen in place, four tiny babies clinging tightly to her underside. And the terror in her eyes was palpable. The safe, dark space where she had been caring for her babies had been invaded by a giant, dangerous animal, and in the sudden bright light, she and her babies had become exposed, vulnerable.
I knew the mama mouse’s fear was for her babies more than for herself; no other mouse I’d ever happened upon had anything like such a frightened look in its eyes.
After our intense little encounter, mama mouse took off, babies holding on for dear life. As fast as she could, she dashed for a dark place to hide.
As for me, I was shaken. I had just engaged with-not an unwelcome rodent-but another mother, a mammal who, like me, was wired to do all she could to protect her babies. I sympathized with her plight and felt sorry to have caused her such terror. I wanted her to find the safe, dark place she needed, even if that place was in our garage.
In the years since that evening, I have thought many times of the experience. Locking eyes with that terrified mother, and knowing I was the cause of her fear, made me realize that a biological connection with another mother mammal, even a mouse, is deeper than my desire for a mouse-free house.–April Moore