Going again

Saturday afternoon I sat behind a table and announced times at a barrel race. It’s been months since I’ve done this. It was a little refreshing watching the exhibitions and see the new horses and new people running. I was a little shocked by the number of new faces at the race and how many I didn’t know. That’s a good thing right?

I haven’t entered a barrel race in probably 5 years. My horse got old, and was (what seemed like) constantly hurt. Plus I had 2 young kids to chase around and struggle with finding childcare besides pawning them off with their grandma. I’ve written before about not going to any races. I’ve promised myself a million times I’ll get another one going.

Saturday I felt a little inkling of wanting to ride again regularly and start another horse. Someone asked me if I was going to run that day, and I jokingly replied, “On foot! I haven’t rode in months.” I had a little bit of a conversation with my sister and told her I don’t want to put time and investment in a horse that I don’t know if it can run fast enough to scatter it’s own shit.

I guess it’s because I feel like my time is so valuable now, that I don’t want to waste it. But I am wasting an opportunity to get another one trained because I can’t get out of the house. I’m already a crappy housekeeper and cook, and it’s really a chore to be able to get a meal on the table, kids bathed and to bed on time and homework done before it’s 9 p.m.

It’s taken me this long to not have guilt about retiring my mare and not running any more. I sure hope it won’t take me another 5 years to get over the guilt of leaving things undone in the house to go ride. I never cared before I had kids if the house was clean, dishes were done and supper was made. Now there’s 2 little boys who always need something from me.

Someone made the comment to me the other day about how the kids come first and I should just get over it if they need something before I do. I was completely annoyed. Mom also needs to do something for herself and be some semblance of what she was before kids. She’s not there just to be someone’s Mom. She was a person before kids and she’ll be a person after those kids are grown and gone. I will provide, protect and nurture those boys the best I know how but I also don’t want to have to lose myself in the process. And if that means taking a couple hours a week to ride then so be it.

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Don’t cuss Mom..

Don’t cuss Mom because she probably has already done it herself. Here’s why.

Maybe she forgot to thaw the meat out for supper and we had cereal again. Maybe she is out of ideas and is tired of hearing “I don’t like that!” or “I don’t want to eat that!”

Maybe she’s got a full-time job and is plumb wore out mentally when she picks the kids up and heads home for the evening. One more “why can’t I?” might just send her over the edge.

Maybe she’s worried about how to pay this bill or how to float the checking account until the next pay day. Or she’s checked the bill schedule three times to make sure she’s paid what has to be paid first.

Maybe she’s not the skinny girl any more who can’t fit into her size 5 jeans she has boxed up in the closet she wishfully thinks might fit again some day. They might just be back in style by the time that happens.

Maybe she’s the one doing all the chores again with little help. What’s she going to get out of it? She surely doesn’t know as she dumps that feed bucket or folds the endless mountain of laundry. At least everyone is fed and taken care of and won’t starve for one more day.

Maybe she’s the one who questions her every thought and action as a mother. “Do I yell too much?” “Should I have been that harsh?” Has she accepted she won’t win any mother of the year any time soon?

Maybe she wants nothing more than to have 10 minutes to herself and not have to worry about a single thing. That could possibly include a soft couch and a cold beer.

Every mother is different. Some are kind and sweet. Some are stern and strong. Some are brave and bold. They end up being the kind they need to be. At least this one is.

You should be proud Mom

Just when I think I’ve completely failed as a mother something happens to reassure me I’m not a complete screw up. Yet.

Last week my oldest had parent-teacher conferences. They are student-lead so he had to go with me. His teacher absolutely adores him and I think that helps him in excel in the classroom.

I should probably back up a little bit and explain my hesitance for this conference. Before Christmas break Shaun’s teacher sent home a progress report for the second quarter and he was below grade level for reading as well as handwriting. This frustrated me a little bit because learning came easy for me as a child. I loved to read and write. Shaun, not so much. I decided it was time for him to do a little extra work at home. I printed off a number of sight word practice sheets and decided to let him read to me instead of me reading the nightly bedtime book. It was frustrating at first, but it’s definitely gotten easier.

At his conference his teacher made the comment he was at a ‘G’ reading level and at this point (early March) normal is a ‘J’ level. Not too bad, I thought to myself and breathed a sigh of relief. I made a point to ask about his handwriting because on her report card it hadn’t improved. She was content with where he was at with writing, but I think it still needs work. We’ve slacked off some because of spring break and the time change, but we will get back at it.

The thing that stuck in my head about what she said about my son was he’s nice to everyone and he follows directions. Praise the Lord! I’m happy he’s nice because it’s so hard to be that way with the kind of diversity he has in his classroom. We work at home on following the rules and “doing as he’s told” and it’s admittedly a struggle for both of us. I’m glad some of my frustration is paying off and he’s turning into a good kid.

“You should be proud of him Mom,” his teacher said.

Admittedly, a compliment is a tough pill for me to swallow. When I was running barrels my horse was good. I trained her myself and I knew what she was capable of. It took many, many good runs for me to say thank you when I got a compliment from someone instead of just smile and nod. Now, I need to learn this when it comes to my boys.

My youngest has been going to daycare since January. Within the last few weeks his teachers have started to gush about him and say he’s so much fun. “Life’s never dull when Chance is around.” My normal response is usually, “oh really? You want to take him home?” The Chance I normally get is kind of grumpy, a little whiny and always asking for graham crackers.

I struggle with being a mom. It isn’t something that’s come very easy for me, and now that I’m elbow deep in this mess, I’m not real sure I’d change it. Catch me on a day like Monday when I lost my cool because of the constant pestering and I’d probably trade them off for a nickel. Or catch me on a day like last Sunday when Shaun rode my old brown mare without whining and listened to his mom tell him how to get her to go. Moments like that make me love him a little bit more.

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There’s always something new

I’d started this post 7 months ago, and never finished it. Yesterday I had another idea that very closely related to this draft. So here I am, in June to finish a post I started in December.

In my house every day is an adventure with two young boys. Whether it be grandma calling to tell me “you know what your son did,” or how the boys are starting to interact (or fight) with one another.

In December it was one of those, “How did you do that?” nights. The youngest was nearly two years old, and as he was then and even now, he finds ways to keep us on our toes. On that night, I had changed his diaper and didn’t put his pants back on because bath time was nearing. In the 10 minutes we’d been back out in the living room he’d done something – probably screaming – to merit a few minutes in the corner to think about it. While he was in the corner I started to look for something to watch on TV. Then I heard a noise. I looked over there and Chance was sitting proudly holding up his diaper for me. I could do nothing but laugh. He was pretty dang proud of himself.

More recently the babysitter called right before noon to ask if the oldest went to school that day. Indeed he had, but the bus hadn’t shown up nearly 50 minutes after dismissal. I called the school (in a panic) and got transferred around, but finally found out his bus was delayed because of a parent who was late. By the time I’d gotten the babysitter called back Shaun had arrived safe and sound.

In early May we got a decent amount of rain and it filled the ditches on either side of our drive way. Even though it was still pretty cool, the boys decided it would be a good idea to play in the mud. Mom was not impressed when I opened the back door to call them in for supper and found them both standing in knee-deep mud and covered in it. I had to laugh. At least it wasn’t cow manure. (Speaking from experience.)

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And again this past weekend we had one more of those moments that merited a blog post. It was Sunday before Memorial Day and the boys and I headed out to feed horses. They enjoy going in the round pen next to the horses because it has solid metal walls that are about 6 feet tall. They can run and scream to their heart’s content. I’ve considered putting their toys in there to contain them, but after our experience Sunday night I’m reconsidering. I’d shut the gate on them and in the time it took me to dump one more bucket of grain and walk to the gate on the horse pen, Shaun was screaming, “SNAKE!” The boys have had it drilled into their heads to run if they see a snake. I went over there thinking it was a bull snake like we’d encountered a couple of weeks before. Nope, this time it was a baby rattlesnake. I instructed them (after taking a photo) to go get their dad. He happened to be outside and heard the commotion. He promptly told me to kill it. “With what?” I asked. Eventually the menace was removed from the round pen and life resumed. Although grandma isn’t quite so sure she wants to return to our house.

I’m sure I’ll have many more stories like the couple I shared in this post, and since I didn’t start the boys baby books, my blog will have to suffice. What have your kids done that left you scratching your heads? Share if you’d like!

Worldly possessions

I ran across a line this morning that summed up the thoughts I had last night as I rummaged through some stuff looking for a particular item. “It’s not what we take, but what we leave behind.”

What I don’t want to leave behind is a mess for my children and family to have to deal with. I don’t want them to have to sort through all the cards, pictures and miscellaneous crap I’ve managed to accumulate in my life. I don’t want them to have to choose what gets thrown in the trash pile. They really shouldn’t have to do that while grieving.

I always thought my Grandmother Orebaugh was strange for writing names on the bottoms of items she wanted her children and their families to have. It saved some strife in the trying days after they were killed in a car accident in February 1989. It was her way of making sure, in her mind, people got her prize possessions the way she wanted them to. I may not go that far, but I really should put some thought into it.

On a recent trip north of our house I noticed on a neighbors place they had the farm machinery lined up along the fence, almost like they were preparing for a farm sale. The owner was in a serious car accident last fall and has been in the nursing home since. At his advanced age, I really don’t see him returning to the farm. I don’t know if they’re having a sale, but from the looks of it, they just might be. And that makes me incredibly sad. The neighbor has worked his entire life for something, only to have it sold off to the highest bidder. I’ve written about farm sales and what they do to people before, so I’m not here to rehash that, but instead put down thoughts about my own junk.

I’ve only been on this earth 37 years and in that time, I’ve acquired more than enough “junk” or stuff I may or may not need. I hold on to something because of the memory it brings out. I still have my childhood blanket (tucked away in my closet) and up until I was in college it was on my bed. I have some of the first outfits my boys wore as babies. I still have the wedding shower, wedding and baby shower cards. I haven’t looked at any of them for quite a while, but I’d feel awful throwing them out. I also have clothes I probably won’t ever wear again, but hell I spent money on them and I may do something with them, even if my sewing machine is out of order and a project with them is saved for a long winter day.

But what I do know is I want to leave my kids the kinds of things most parents do. To know they are loved, to teach them to be kind and smart and not be assholes. I want them to have a sense of humor and know what it’s like to have fun. I want them to spend their money wisely, get an education and a good job. I don’t care if that job is cowboying, driving truck or writing and taking photos. If it makes them happy, I’m happy. But if they want my collection of rodeo photographs or my saddle and tack, I’d be happy with that as well.

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My sister tagged me in this on social media, and oh how it rings true!