Donkey or Duck?

There may be a handful of you who know that the animal mascot for my home state of Missouri is the mule.  Now, some folks (including yours truly) confuse mules with donkeys when actually they are two different species.

A mule is the hybrid of a male donkey and a female horse.  There is a misconception that all mules are males, when in fact, most mules are infertile, whether male or female.  It has been said that mules are “more patient, sure-footed, hardy and long-lived than horses, and they are considered less obstinate, faster, and more intelligent than donkeys.” (thank you, Wikipedia).

Still, when I contemplate the Missouri state animal, which is not all that often, I prefer to call it a donkey.  Two reasons:  1) The word donkey has one more syllable than mule and I like longer words, and 2) Donkey provides alliteration with the word duck.

Here in my new home state of Texas, specifically in the area where I live, there are several species of waterfowl thanks to a beautiful man-made lake and canal nearby. 

We regularly see the Great White Egret, smaller heron, geese and ducks including mallards and a funny little diving duck that has a long black bill and kind of scoots along the water.

So what’s with all this animal and bird husbandry? 

Mules/donkeys are pack animals, beasts of burden.  When trained or coaxed, they can haul the burdens on their backs for great distances and sometimes under severe conditions.

As for ducks, you’ve heard the expression, “water off a duck’s back?”  Turns out ducks have a gland in their tail feathers that produces oil that when spread over their bodies via their beaks, makes them waterproof.

Still with me?

During my journaling time this morning, I was thinking about my mom and about how in many ways I have a better relationship with her now that she has passed than I did as a child.

The truth is there were instances when she wasn’t there for me, when she didn’t care for me as a mother should.  I’ve made peace with her imperfections and realize that she and dad did the best they could with me as a little girl.

Today I only care about my relationship with Mom’s spirit.  She is everything I want her to be now except, of course, she’s not physically present with me.  But when I need her, she’s there.  No hesitation.  No judgment.  No condemnation.

I know that everything I feel for her originates in my heart where the truth of my being joins with Mom in a mystical embrace.  The angel connects with the once-lost child, the soul that grows more and more into a woman who wonders about the strangest things.

During times of trouble, when I want my mom more than ever, do I respond like a donkey or a duck?  Do I plod along with worry and heartache strapped to my back, or do I let the conditions roll off my back even as I’m paddling like hell through frigid waters while ice pellets drop around me?

Seems like an easy answer, doesn’t it?  But, I did live in Missouri first . . .

Are you mostly like a donkey or a duck?

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  1. vickie says:

    Beth, my mom died when I was three…I don’t remember her. How about we give Mom’s a break, as sometimes, we don’t really know what to do, or how to be, or what our children expect us to be. We are only human and sometimes the expectations put on us as Moms are unattainable. How ’bout we just realize that we are all doing the best that we can, and that is enough…just a thought…

  2. Joe says:

    Good Morning Beth,

    Love this post. I’ve always wondered what the difference is between a mule and a donkey. Thanks for sharing this tidbit.

    I lost my mother just over a year ago and like you we never had a close relationship. And like you too, I feel much closer to her spirit as well.

    Sometimes I still re-run some of the old arguments we’d have, but at least know when I tell her I lover her, I’m certain she’s actually hearing me!

    I’ve always been told I take after my mother…stubborn as a mule.

    Thanks for this!

    Your new blogging buddy.

  3. Becky says:

    Yep – that’s what I am! Fortunately, I have someone very “Ducky” mentoring me in the Ways of Duck-dom”. Great post. I miss your Mama too – but I am blessed to see and share parts of her every day, through you.

  4. Thanks Beth for enlighteninig me about mules, donkeys and ducks!

    What a great way to share your poignant lesson. I will now probably think of donkeys and mules every time I see a duck:-)

    This is my first visit to your blog – thanks to the Alist Blogging Club. Great to meet you here and to know more about your work.

    Wishing you all the best on your blogging journey

    Love and best wishes


  5. Dave Rowley says:

    Hello Beth,

    I enjoyed this post, and especially liked learning the difference between a donkey and a mule. I aspire to be duck-like in regards to worry, but I’ve certainly put in plenty of donkey miles.


  6. Welcome to Texas! I realize that wasn’t the point of the post, but I had to offer that up. I think I make a pretty good duck.

    • Beth Wilson says:

      Hey there! It matters not what the point of the post was, I’m just grateful you commented! From what part of the great state of Texas do you hale?

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