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Mama of the House

Teresa M. Nichols

Narrative Essay

September 11, 2010

Mama of the House

Autumn was quickly arriving and uninvited house guests were settling into our home. First we would hear little rustling noises coming from the kitchen cabinet under the sink, which held the trash bucket and recycle bin. We did not have any pets, but maybe if we had, I would not have had to do the unthinkable.

“What is that noise? It sounds like the trash is alive under the sink!” I said. I pulled everything out of the cabinet to see what was going on and quickly recognized the tiny gifts the noise makers were leaving behind. “Oh no, we have mice coming in from around the water pipes!” I exclaimed.

My husband said, “Just go get some mouse traps, not bait because that will cause them to die and rot where you can’t reach them, and then they will smell.”

Eew…I imagined how rotten eggs smelled and did not want to live with that. I decided on traps with peanut butter. Someone told me mice liked peanut butter better than cheese, so I gave it a try.

Snap! It worked! Then, I had to remove it from the trap. I just couldn’t do it! My heart ached to see the tiny creature lying there in the trap I set. I killed him—or maybe it was a her. Oh, I really did not want to kill them, this didn’t sit well with me. I wished there was another way to handle it. I carefully put the trap, with mouse still attached into a plastic bag and tossed it into the trash can outside. I reluctantly set another trap, but the peanut butter kept disappearing.

Then the screeches and squeals of three little girls began in the living room “Mom I saw a MOUSE!”

“Where did you see it, where did it go?” I asked.

“Running across the living room floor, he went that way!” they said as they frantically pointed towards the hallway that lead to the bedrooms.

I thought to myself, this is not good. I am quickly loosing this battle if they are taking up residence in the bedrooms, I will be battling with these uninvited house guests all winter!

Then came the pleading from my girls;

“Mom can we catch and keep it?” asked my quizzical five year old, Linda, as she worked those crystal clear big blue eyes.

“Can we?” chimed in my two year old, Annie, in an effort to help her sister persuade Mom by flashing those long dark lashes and quickly revealing her cute little dimples.

“Can we please keep it?” pipes up my polite, warm and caring eight year old, Mandy, seeing that her little sisters could use a bit of help persuading me to catch and keep the mouse.

“NO!” I responded, and told them, “these are not pet mice, they are wild and they can carry disease which could make us very sick.”

“Aww mommm.” whined all three girls in harmony.

I quickly added “I know you all would love to have a pet to care for, but these mice are not suitable to be kept for pets. Besides, I think a hamster can be more fun and cuddly than a mouse.”

Then I told them if I could actually catch the mice alive, I would. Then I would let the mice go in a big field somewhere, and that I really didn’t like having to kill them. My bright three girls understood and dropped the subject.

Day after day I caught more little mice in the traps, but the one big mouse, possibly a mama mouse, was spotted several times scurrying through the house. My traps were catching only the little young mice, and I figured it was the big Mama mouse that was licking the traps clean. She was a clever mouse indeed, and my uninvited house guest problem would continue until she was dealt with and removed from the premises.

Then one quiet night I saw her. She was a big, round, pregnant mama mouse, waddling across the floor and headed towards MY GIRLS bedroom, where they were soundly dreaming their dreams for the night. I leaped up from my chair and was on hot pursuit of Clever Big Mama Mouse. I was determined to catch her for once and for all.

I told her, “There is only room for one Mama in this house, and that is me!”

I followed, grabbing my girl’s empty cardboard box from the floor; they had used it earlier in the day to give stuffed animals and dolls rides in. I saw her squeeeeze through the small crack of my girl’s bedroom door.  I went in, trying to be quieter than a mouse, sl…o…w…l…y flipped the light switch on, and there she was! She was panting in the corner behind the door, obviously startled to see me. Then she made a run for the closet, but I was swift in my determination to stop her, and plopped the box down over her. I already decided that if I were to catch her alive, I would take her for a car ride and let her go in a nearby field.

I caught her! Not only to her alarm that she had been caught, but mine, too, as to how I caught her. The edge of the box came down across her neck. Her plump body was inside the box, but her head was on the outside. There I was in my daughter’s bedroom where they all lay sleeping and Clever Big Mama Mouse looking up at me with those pleading itty bitty beady eyes. I began to feel the turmoil from within swell up. What was I to do? She is still alive. If I let up on this box she will surely flee, and I may never catch her again. I just stood there with my hand on the box for what seemed like eternity. I was determined to catch her, but I really didn’t want to kill her, at least not like this. This seemed so cold and inhumane. I had to decide; let her go, or press down on the box harder and wait for her to die. I worried my girls would awaken to find mom in their room killing a mouse. What nightmares would that bring? On the other hand, mice carried diseases, and we couldn’t have mice living in their room.

I made a heart-wrenching choice and pressed down as hard as I could, looking away, and waited. A few minutes later, it was done. Mama of the House was rid of Clever Big Mama Mouse once and for all, just not quite how I had imagined. Those pleading itty bitty eyes haunted me for some time after that dreadful night.

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