It’s taken 2 sprays of Rescue Remedy and a strong cup of tea before my hands would stop shaking enough for me to sit at my keyboard and type this.
This afternoon, I merrily embarked on a bike ride with my little family. We rode out of our street and up to the top of the hill, which leads us into Reserve. It’s gorgeous and quiet, and as my 5-year-old likes to point out, “It has amazing beauty,”
So there we were, riding along. Me on my pink Mountain Bike, wearing my pink helmet. Mr 5 on his blue ‘big boy bike’ with training wheels. Hubby, the ever-enduring packhorse, towing Mr 4-months, the picnic basket, nappy bag, 3 bottles of water and foam rockets.
Mr 5 was riding too slowly, so I rode up onto the grass and overtook him. The sense of freedom was wonderful as I felt the early September sunshine and the wind in my hair.
I vaguely heard my husband behind me yell “Magpie, Eva!” and I barely had any time to react before…
There it was. Fucking magpie season. Already? Can’t I enjoy a whiff of Spring without a fear of being accosted by these fat feathered fuckers?
A magpie is a black and white bird that is native to Australia. Like most Australian animals, it is territorial during breeding season. They build their nests in parks and other open spaces (such as school playgrounds) and will swoop anything that they view as a threat to their little baby birds in the nest.
And, for people like me: They make Spring time very fucking unpleasant.
My fear of magpies goes back many, many years.
Age 6 – The school tuckshop was about 100 metres from my kindergarten classroom, and we had to take the lunch orders down the road and past the pine tree that hosted Mother Magpie and her nest during spring. We were made to wear ice cream tubs on our heads with googly eyes stuck on them to fool the magpies into thinking we were looking at them… how that helped, I don’t know.
Age 8 – Being too scared to go into our bird aviary at home to feed the budgies. I was petrified that they would swoop me. Mum found out that they weren’t being fed, and gave the birds away to “a good home, with children who care enough feed them.”
Age 10 – Mrs C, the elderly lady next door, showing up on our doorstep covered in blood because she had been swooped on her way home from the shops, fell and hit her head on the gutter. My dad, the paramedic, calmly attending to her while my mum called for an ambulance. I remember her trying to keep her voice steady. Mrs C spent weeks in hospital. She got bad. But then she got better.
So many Springs, and so many years of being absolutely petrified of being swooped and injured by a magpie.
The human part of me feels compassionate. I want to sit Mother Magpie down and say “Hey – I’m a mum too. I don’t want to kidnap your babies. I have my own. And motherhood is exhausting enough as it is, without us all hating on one another”
But let’s face it: My fear is based on my animal body’s reaction to a threat from another animal. And the whole reason why the magpie is swooping me is to scare me, so I stay away from her nest.
So I succumb to my fear. I ride to the bottom of the hill and get off my bike, throwing it to the ground and shaking uncontrollably. The man who lives in the house right there gleefully explains that there’s another magpie further along the track… “And this one is nasty. Oh boy is she mean!”
I tell my husband that I’m not going any further. He will have to ride home, get the car and come back to pick me up because there’s NO WAY IN HELL I’M GOING TO BE SWOOPED BY ANOTHER FUCKING MAGPIE.
My husband, ever the cool cucumber, tells me that I will get back on my bike and we will be riding to the park to eat our picnic, because everyone is hungry.
Mr 5 thankfully modelled his father’s behaviour on this occasion. “It’s ok mummy, look. I’m not scared of magpies.” Oh, how my heart melted with pride for my darling boy.
I’m in a crumpled heap next to my bike, and a million thoughts are running through my head:
“I make my living by teaching women how to shift anxiety out of their lives. I’m petrified of a fucking BIRD. I’m a fraud, I’m a fraud, I’m a fraud.”
Wait. I teach the tools to handle this.
“Ok – what’s my goal? What’s my goal? Ok – my goal is, to get through this bike ride, despite the magpies, and get home safely again.”
I HAVE the tools to HANDLE this!
“What’s my deep heart foundation driving my goal? I just want to get home as quickly and safely as possible.
No, that’s my anxious voice talking…
I want to be able to enjoy bike rides with my family. Because our family time is precious. And I don’t want to ruin my boys’ fun because of my stupid fucking magpie phobia!!”
I can handle this.
Affirmation. I need an affirmation. What can I say that’s empowering for me, to get through this ride and get home again?
Uhmmm… “Magpies are a fact of life during the Australian Spring. Magpies are a fact of life during the Australian Spring.”
I got this.
What can I visualise? I can’t visualise that there isn’t a magpie ahead, because I’ve been told there’s a mean one up ahead. All I can really do is white-light all of us and hope for the best.
I have to do this. I have to face my fear. I have to model strength despite fear for my son. And I want to enjoy bike rides with my family.
I’m doing this.
I pick up my bike, straighten my helmet, white-light everyone (myself especially) and ride on. The whole time I’m affirming, “Magpies are a fact of life during the Australian Spring. Magpies are a fact of life during the Australian Spring.”
And I’m not sure where the next big mean, magpie was, but she didn’t bother us. The rest of the ride, I kept looking up to see magpies in the trees and on the light posts. They were making the chortling warning call, telling us to stay away from their babies, or else they would swoop.
But they didn’t attack.
We enjoyed our picnic and rode home. The whole way I bathed us all in white light and repeated my affirmation over and over. Again, no attack.
Now – it’s only very early Spring, so I know magpie season is only beginning. I’m not kidding myself that I won’t be swooped again. I get swooped every year.
I can try to change my reaction and not be so fearful of the birds, I can enjoy my family time more. I also want to get back into walking after having my baby – and I don’t want the magpies to stop me.
Love & light