Saturday, June 7, 2014

Just A Day

The other day, I sent my husband a text message every four hours, letting him know what I'd done.  This probably sounds ridiculous, but I hate the fact that he comes home after ten days and it looks like I've done nothing at all except keep two kids and 50 animals alive. I needed for him to know that I don't actually sit around doing nothing - it just looks like I do.

Any worthwhile wife would be able to manage all that I do - and more- without getting overwhelmed. But I wasn't raised to be independent or capable, and mostly I just feel like there is more to do each day than there are hours to do it in. If I was better at managing my time, or if I wasn't so slow and lazy and weak and helpless, I'd be so much better at this. I'm getting better as years go by, but I'm still pretty much a failure.

Here's what I did on that "average" day:

4 am to 8 am: Worked out for 20 minutes (I'm getting so fat it's kind of disgusting), made zucchini bread and fruit salad, washed and dried a load of laundry, changed the cat litter, cleaned the laundry room, milked the cow and turned her out (turning her out involves wrangling a calf, which isn't always easy), milked the goats, strained the milk,fed the foundering horse, drained the side roll, added a wheel, moved it, weeded a garden bed, and washed the dishes, hooked up a hose and started watering the lawn. Oh - and parented.

8 am to 12 pm: Planted beets, folded and put away the laundry, taught math, English and reading, made German potato salad, cole slaw and pudding for dinner, tacos for lunch, cleaned up the kitchen and washed the dishes, moved the water... and parented.

12pm to 4 pm: Helped one kid finish a 4H record book, cleaned and organized the playroom, made a batch of brownies, made butter, moved the water, made 4H phone calls while folding more laundry, vacuumed a few rooms, ran for 20 minutes, and parented.

4pm to 8 pm: Taught a 4H crochet class, moved the water, moved the side roll, fed and separated all the animals, disposed of 4 dead baby rabbits, filled a horse trough, wrangled a calf, made dinner, weeded two garden beds and planted out the melon plants, listened to two Poultry speeches, washed dinner dishes, cleaned the kitchen... and parented.

From 8 pm to 10 pm I put the kids in bed, showered, finished cleaning up, graded school work, read a book for The Oldest, and then finally got to bed, only to start again in 6 hours.

It seems like a lot when I type it all out like that, but when I'm actually doing it, it seems like I ought to be moving faster, finding time to do so many more things. I just move too slowly, I think. Most women would be able to do that and still find time for the things I didn't have time to do - sew a nightgown, call a loved one, plant corn, shovel the corral, read a story to the kids.

I wish I could say I feel like I've accomplished enough for one day, but I'm constantly searching for just a couple more hours. I'm sure they're there... I just need to learn how to find them. Day by day, I learn to be a bit more capable, and a little less lazy. But it's not a fast process. The awful days are the ones when something happens that I can't control - a sick kid or animal, a failure in the irrigation system, or any number of other things that find a way of sneaking up on me. Some day I'll have it all together. Until then, I'll struggle along, wishing I was able to do so much more than I am right now.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Flower Garden Chatter: When She Grows Up

Littlest One is a Flower Gardener. I do not understand this. If I am going to spend my precious time tending a plant, it darn well better produce something for me to eat. She, however, places an exceptional amount of importance on Beautiful Things. Her flowers have names. She talks about them like they are people. She reports every few days who is blooming, who has buds, who looks a little sad this year. Growing Beautiful Things is her heart's desire when it comes to gardening. And so, I decided I have two options: I can ignore her, let her do what she does, and go work in my own ("important") veggie garden, or I can suck it up and work with her, weeding and pruning and planting perennials. I chose the latter.

So we were out working in the flower garden today, and she was chattering away. Gardening is the best time to listen to kids. They love to talk while they work. They will pour out every single thought that runs through their mind as they pull weeds. So I sat and listened - it might generally be mundane, but I'm glad she feels like she can just tell me what she's thinking. It'd be even better if we can keep that up for the next ten or twelve years, and I figure this is a good place to practice.

Today's topic of conversation: What Littlest One Wants To Be When She Grows Up. Apparently, she puts a lot of thought into this. I mean, a lot. And that bad part is, she doesn't believe me when I remind her that she can't be fifteen different things. If she's going to realize every dream she has for occupations, she's going to be in college until she's 80.

She wants to be a doctor, because she wants to help sick people get better. She wants to be a police officer, because she wants to make sure the bad guys get in trouble for doing bad things (which may or may not involve wrestling them to the ground, and/or carrying a gun, both of which she is not opposed to.) She wants to be a horse trainer and a professional barrel racer. She wants to be a teacher so she can teach kids how to like math. She wants to work at a daycare so she can take care of babies. She wants to be a professional ballerina. She wants to be a farmer and raise food and can it. And she wants to raise dairy goats and beef cattle. She wants to be a 4-H leader and she wants to feed homeless people. She wants to be a park ranger so she can help protect the plants and animals. She'd also like to work at McDonald's so she can have all the chicken nuggets she wants.

I was listening, amused, thinking at least my kid's pretty well rounded, with so many interests, even if her plans are more than a little far-fetched.

The Oldest was listening in as well. And when Littlest One finished listing the things she intends to do when she's grown up, The Oldest had one thing to say: "What you really want to be is just a mom. You can take care of babies, teach them math, get them in trouble when they are bad, dance with them and ride horses with them and you can farm and take care of animals. And you don't even have to go to college to be a mom. You can just start when you're 25."

Ahh, Oldest One. You wise, sweet, wonderful little girl.

For that brief moment, it almost seemed like she actually realizes all that I do, in this world where I feel like they don't see a thing that I accomplish.

Yes, being a mom fulfills every dream, if you just let it. It takes a little bit of thinking outside the box, more energy than any single person will ever actually have... but you get to do SO MUCH. And you get to do it while serving the family that you love. And even better, as those little ones grow up, they maybe even start appreciating it, just a little bit.