A Parent’s Love (Flash Fiction)

Life lessons are usually learned in the barn, right? And all the farm kids nod.
I kind of want to know if you’ve ever helped someone or something give birth before but that might be a weird or inappropriate question 👀 sorry, birth might be on my mind a lot right now 😂 Instead I’ll ask this: what is the cutest baby animal?

Damp wool is in my nose. It’s in my mouth too actually. Spitting, I try to push the sheep away from my face to clear up my airways.

“Hold still, Josh!” My dad grips the ewe’s hindquarters and shoots me frown.

I freeze, letting the weight of the sheep shift back on me. “How much longer do you think?” 

My words are muffled and Dad grunts loudly. I’m about to give up and accept my fate of being suffocated by farm animal when Dad says, “I think we’re almost there. One more push, girl.”

As if she understands, the ewe shifts in my arms, placing one of her pointy hooves into my leg. I yelp in pain at the same time my dad gives a soft cheer.

“That’s it, girl!”

The stubborn lamb that has refused to be born for the past three hours slides into Dad’s hands and the new mama sags against me, panting. I pat the ewe gently on top of her head and she rolls one eye at me as if to say, “never make me do that again.”

I have a new appreciation for my pregnant sister. If this is what Lila has to do in a couple of weeks, no wonder she’s so grumpy all the time. Not for the first time, I’m glad I’m a guy and that I still have several years before marriage and babies are thing for me.

“Look, Josh.”

I turn to see Dad holding the lamb out to me. My first thought is that it’s a little slimy looking, but then the lamb opens its mouth and lets out a little sound that softens me immediately. It blinks large, dark eyes at me and I have to remind myself that it’s just a lamb. Just a . . . cuddly . . . cute . . . lamb.

“Do you want to hold him?” Dad places the long legged baby into my arms without waiting for my answer.

The mama sheep slowly gets up and circles me to sniff her son.

“I’m surprised she wants to even get up after all that.”

“After what? Birth?” Dad glances at me as he begins to clean up the stall.

“Well, yeah. If I’d just done all that I wouldn’t get up for a week.”

Dad shrugs. “She wanted to see her baby. A parent’s love is much stronger than pain.”

I frown at the ewe and lamb who are nuzzling each other. “So when do I get the magical powers that will make me stronger than pain?”

“I don’t know, bud, probably when you’re a parent yourself.” Dad drops the dirty towels into a bucket. “Or, when you get old enough to think about things outside of yourself.” He raps his knuckles on the bill of my baseball cap and I roll my eyes.

Dad admires the new family. “Isn’t he cute?”

“Yeah.”

Dad laughs. “You’re allowed to like things, you know.”

“And what, ruin my street cred?” I grin a little as Dad takes the lamb back and gently sets it down to nurse.

Dad swings an arm around me. “You’ll see one day, kid. One day you’ll be holding your wife’s hand and you’ll find yourself crying when your baby is finally here. It’ll be the best and most terrifying day of your life. And you’ll thank God you get to be there for it. I promise.”

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