Some time you may hear someone being referred to as a “mamá cuervo” or “mother crow”. A person might say for example:
Ayyy...allí viene Lucía. Ella es una mamá cuervo y sin duda ella está llevando fotos de sus hijos preciosos.
Oh, no...here comes Lucy. She is a mama crow and no doubt she is carrying photos of her precious children.
You may have already guessed what the phrase “mamá cuervo” means but perhaps don't know why. A “mamá cuervo” is someone who is always bragging about their children (or grandchildren) and since this includes most of us I thought it would be a good idea to explain where this phrase comes from. If you have ever seen a baby crow they are truly awkward and ugly things. They are so ugly, in fact, that only a mama crow could love them. However, to the mama crow they are very beautiful indeed because they are her offspring. The story of the mama crow is told in several Spanish speaking countries and there are a number of minor variations of the story. The following version is more or less the general theme of all of the mama crow stories with the exception that some of the characters may be presented differently in different regions. Anyway, this is my version of the story and I am sticking to it:
Once upon a time in a big forest there lived a mama crow in a nest with her baby crows. Every morning mama crow would go out looking for food for the little crows and she would return about mid-day. One day she arrived back at her nest at the usual time but did not hear the welcoming calls of her little ones and she did not find them in the nest. All that she could hear was silence. Needless to say she was very worried and she went out looking for them. She soon encountered a mama squirrel with her baby squirrels and said, “Pardon me Mrs. Squirrel but have you seen my children?”. The squirrel replied, “Tell me what your children look like, Mrs. Crow", because just a few moments ago she had seen some pitiful and scraggly looking little birds that appeared to be lost. The mama crow said, “Oh, my three precious children have very soft little feathers that are as smooth as cotton and their little voices are so sweet that the sound of them will tug at your soul”. “Oh, well”, said the squirrel, “then I certainly haven't seen your children. I am so sorry”.
The mama crow continued looking for her children and encountered a mama rabbit with her baby rabbits. She said, “Hello Mrs. Rabbit. Have you seen my children?”. The mama rabbit said, “I don't know Mrs. Crow. Could you please tell me what they look like?” The mama crow replied, “Oh, my children are so precious and good looking that they will bring tears to your eyes”. The mama rabbit thought for a minute and although she had seen some ugly little baby birds wandering around lost they certainly didn't match the description that mama crow had given her so without any more hesitation she said, “No, I'm sorry, but I haven't seen your children”. The mama crow kept on looking and she met various other animals of the forest during her search and her conversations with them went pretty much along the same lines as the conversations that she had previously with Mrs. Squirrel and Mrs. Rabbit.
Finally the mama crow became very distraught and sick with worry about her children. She came upon a mama fox and normally her fear would have made her fly away from the fox but the mama crow's love for her children was so strong that she confronted the fox and said, “Excuse me Mrs. Fox but I have lost my children. Have you seen them?”. Now, the fox seeing the worry on the face of the mama crow and being a mother herself understood the situation and she felt a shiver of tragedy and foreboding run up and down her spine and she said, “Oh, Mrs. Crow, what do your children look like?”. The mama crow then began to describe her children, “They are precious little things, with soft and smooth feathers and they make sounds so sweet and they are so innocent looking that they must certainly be the most beautiful baby birds in the forest.” The fox let out a deep sigh of relief and said, “No, then I haven't seen your children. I just finished eating three little lost birds but they didn't look anything like your children. In fact the little birds that I ate were horrible looking things with bulging eyes and rough feathers and they made a terrible squawking sound that they didn't stop making until I gobbled them down. The mama crow cried out “Oh, no, those were my children” and she flew off in a terrible state, crying and crying. To this very day when you are in the forest, at times you can still hear her the echo of her cry... “caw, caw, caw”.
Do you know a mamá cuervo (mama crow)? Do you think that you might be a mamá cuervo or “abuela” (grandma) cuervo”? It doesn't matter one bit. There is no doubt that all of our children are beautiful despite what other people might think. That is why we must have patience with every mamá cuervo...because they are us!
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