I See You, Mama Raccoon

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If there’s one thing you need to know before you read this post, I cannot help but laugh as I write it. I realize its ridiculousness, but it’s one of those things that I just can’t seem to get out of my head. 

Several weeks ago, my daughter was approximately 17 minutes late for preschool. Fortunately, her teacher is extremely understanding and always tells us parents, “There’s no such thing as being late when it comes to preschool.” Although her grace is often welcome, I felt it necessary to share why we were so late this time. 

“We’re on our way. We got caught up watching a mama raccoon moving her babies,” I texted the class text message thread.

That’s right. It wasn’t that my daughter wouldn’t let me do her hair or wipe the remnants of breakfast off of her face – as it usually is – it was that we sat on our couch together, watching a mother raccoon move each of her newborn babies from a high hideout in the treetop across the street to a new home somewhere in my neighbor’s backyard.

Now, to understand why this was so significant to me, we have to go back a few weeks. 

I had finally hit a comfortable level of sleep for being eight months pregnant when I heard a slamming sound out on our driveway. I gasped as I quickly rolled over and turned toward the window. Another slam. It wasn’t particularly loud, almost like a car door, but it was close. Close enough that I soon found myself creeping downstairs to investigate …and maybe get myself a bowl of cereal. 

When I peered out the window, I saw two beady eyes glowing back at me, standing on top of our garbage can. 

A raccoon. A big raccoon. A big, chunky raccoon. A big chunky raccoon trying to get a midnight snack, just like me, yet finding herself stuck on top of the lid she struggled to open.

While I should have shooed it away before my dog noticed this unwanted visitor, I put my hand up to the window as a peace offering. To my surprise, the raccoon followed my lead and put her tiny, almost claw-like hand up on the glass. I chuckled. Her presence was calm; her demeanor seemed sincere – for a wild animal, that is, anyway.

After what seemed like my once-in-a-lifetime Disney princess moment, we both went our separate ways, and other than telling my husband and neighbors about it the next day, I didn’t think much of it anymore… until that morning, we were late for preschool.

It was an extremely rainy morning; our entire backyard resembled a lakefront property. I sat on the couch with my breakfast, looking out the window, wondering how I would keep my extremely active toddler occupied for the remaining hours between school and dinner. When our dog barked, I shushed her as usual and continued sipping on my tea. She’s always barking at who-knows-what and the occasional delivery person, so why would now be any different? 

Eventually, though, I could not get her to stop, and my husband yelled, “Raccoon! Look!” Our entire family watched as this raccoon waddled up our neighbor’s driveway, proudly carrying what appeared to be a newly discovered trash treat. That is, until several minutes later, when we saw her doing the same thing with another similar item dangling from her mouth. 

By the fourth trip, we realized they were not garbage finds — but her baby raccoons. 

I’m not sure why she insisted on moving her handful of cubs (pups? kits? raclets?) on that rainy morning, but with each trip, I noticed her focus and drive through the rain. Up the tree, grab the next babe, carefully scale down the tree, and quickly cross the street over and over again. 

Until the last one, when she struggled to hold onto the little one, the little nugget squirmed with all its might, but with each twist and turn, Mama held on with her eyes set on their new home in my neighbor’s backyard. Eventually, they made it to their destination, and I realized it was time for me to put on my daughter’s shoes, pack her snack for later, and head to the school drop-off.

At that moment, I realized this mother raccoon and I were more alike than I probably had realized earlier. Of course, she was digging in our trash can at midnight; she had mouths to feed. Of course, she was moving her family in the pouring rain; they were outgrowing their current home. Of course, she kept her eyes on her goal; her maternal duty was to keep those babies safe and healthy. 

I, too, do these things in my own way every day as a soon-to-be mother of two. While we are different in many ways (she was a lot cuter pregnant than I am, I’ll say), we are both just doing the best we can for our little ones. (Here’s a fellow Indianapolis mom’s post about showing yourself some grace.)

And I thought, and clearly continue to think, that’s pretty neat.

(If you’re concerned about a raccoon in your area, check out this website for some tips and tricks to keep the peace with your new furry “neighbors”!)



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