About a month ago, I acted upon a long-delayed dream.
I became Mommy to a hatchling red-foot tortoise named Malti.
Malti is an Indian girl’s name that means “small fragrant jasmine flower.”
She is very small indeed (3″ from nose to tail tip).
Her fragrance comes in the form of trust.
Even as I type, she is sleeping off her lunch in a mossy corner of her new habitat – totally trusting that her every need will be provided for…..by me.
I, on the other hand, am cramming on YouTube like only a newbie turtle mommy can, ever hopeful of keeping this baby alive for one more day.
We are making a lot of progress, Malti and I, but I have to give her most of the credit.
For instance, she is willing to allow me to mist and bathe her.
She is willing to take small bits of food right from my hand (she is still quite clumsy and often can’t figure out how to reach the morsels she wants on her own).
She is patient with my learning curve and does not judge….she makes the best of what I offer her, even if the next day I discover I should have been offering something totally different!
She lets me pick her up and move her around – for instance, when I take her outside for her daily dose of exercise.
In spite of these regular large daily doses of trust, I continue to wrestle with several big fears – fears which almost prevented me from finding the courage to add a tortoise to our little family in the first place.
- I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep a land tortoise alive (I’ve only ever had water turtles for pets in the past, although they did quite well if I do say so myself!)
- I was afraid I would love one pet more than the other and “play favorites.”
- I was afraid I would have to travel and wouldn’t be able to afford kenneling or be able to find anyone I trusted to take a tortoise while I was away.
- I was afraid she wouldn’t love me and we would never develop a bond.
So here we are, Malti and me.
And oddly, she is the one who is giving me the courage to get up each morning and care for her as well as I possibly can – no matter how stumbling it may be – for one more day.
She is showing me exactly how to take this new arrangement one tiny, carefully-placed step at a time.
She is reminding me that the best way to tackle challenges – small ones and large ones – is to take on only the challenge that is sitting on my plate (rather than first crowding all the other ones onto the plate too and then attempting to resolve them all in one fell swoop.)
She is a living, breathing, reptilian reminder of every lesson recovery and life has ever taught me – and a timely reminder that I, too, can successfully trust – trust in her, trust in me, trust in us.
Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever willingly bitten off a challenge that seemed just a bit (or a lot) beyond your scope, ability, or sense of sanity? Why did you do it? How did it turn out? What got you through? What did you learn? Would you do it again – if you had it to do all over again?