• Deborah

Dead Birds Don't Sing


And they don’t make a peep when you run over them with your mini van, either.

I know. That’s terrible. But it’s true.

The morning started out like any other. I pried my eyes open with an alcoholic’s promise to not stay up late working tonight and yes, to get out of bed tomorrow before my kids run in asking for breakfast. Without time to brew coffee, I rushed the kids out of the house and drove them to the bus-stop five miles down the street. 30 minutes later, I returned home with the warmth of a Starbucks latte coursing through my veins, ready to hit my computer and start my work day. I slowed as I approached our driveway. What was that mound of black feathers barring my drive to the garage? Was that blood? Was it… yes, it was a dead bird! Ewwww.

I maneuvered the car’s wheels around the carcass and cursed that my husband ran over a bird and left me with the clean-up. Maybe I could pretend I never saw it? Or maybe one of my neighbors would be kind enough to throw it in their doggie poop bag on their daily walk-by? Wait. This is L.A. The only guarantee from our neighbors is gossip ’cause a dead bird left on your property gets people talking. And not in the good way.

I opened the garage in search of a shovel, mumbling to myself about the virtues of being a strong woman with an unchivalrous husband raising two kids and running a company who shouldn’t be skittish about dead omnivores when, lo-and-behold, I saw that my husband’s car was still parked. If my husband hadn’t run over the bird, who had?

I walked slowly, shovel in hand, to the front of the driveway. I know what you’re thinking. Like watching that woman strip off her clothes and splash late night into the dark shark-infested water, you want to shout, Don’t go! Stop! Make your husband do it! But I knew, you know?

The bird was still warm. Its little bird brain was splattered across the cement. Blood pooled around it. My stomach heaved. I looked at the trajactory of the tire tracks. The location of the wings.

I had run over the bird. And I hadn’t even noticed.

And as the responsible party, it was my duty to clean it with dignity.

Otherwise, who am I? I obsess over how to be a better Mom and a worthwhile businesswoman. But the only way to lead — be it of a twosome of under 9 years olds or a team of advanced-degree-holding engineers, is NOT to delegate the disgusting, reality-jolting jobs of life to others. If I can’t face down my fears or overcome my own desire to let others do my “dirty work,” how can I expect to raise the next generation of good citizens or inspire innovation and change? How to be a better parent and a more successful CEO?

Own up to your mess, apologize (oh nameless, unfortunate bird, I am so sorry) and clean it up.

And let me assure you, scraping bird guts off the pavement at 7:30 am quickly reminds you how tenuous the whole thing is…