Wednesday, March 20, 2019

An Opinion of Mud

I hadn’t even changed the first diaper of the day when I was asked this question:

“Mom. Jump in mud puddles today?”

I’m not sure if she recognized the rain pounding on the roof throughout the night as I had, but our 2 ½ year old has a way of planning the day before pajamas come off. 

It’s been a long winter. I’m a big fan of cold weather, but this season seems to be relentless. As the snow stops falling, the rain has set in, and with livestock, it’s hard to tell which natural element is worse.

As someone required to work in mud daily to care for livestock, I view mud differently than our little girl. 

I view mud as the thing that keeps my feet stuck into the deep, soggy ground when hungry heifers shove me around as I toss buckets of grain in the feed bunk. 

I view mud as the thing that causes me to get our Kubota stuck in two-feet-deep ruts while my husband’s instructions of “DON’T TAKE YOUR FOOT OFF THE GAS!!” echo through my head. He’s in Montana for the week so my week’s priority shifts from keeping all stock fed and alive to digging or pulling out a diesel Kubota without leaving too much proof of the incident. Talk about covering your tracks. 

My opinion of mud changed after the first time I got muddy, flowing water down into my waterproof boots, then again after I lost a boot in the mud and had to sacrifice my socks and reputation in front of customers, then once again when I learned how muddy navels on a calf can affect their health. 

Mud isn’t nearly as fun when you’re in your mid-thirties and considering a double knee replacement due to months of carrying feed buckets several yards through the relentless brown tar far up your shins. 

But when you’re 2 ½, mud looks much different. 

When you’re 2 ½, you’re not worried about topsoil washing away, wet basements or newborn calves finding their way. 

When you’re 2 ½, mud becomes the medium for which you can paint murals on the side of barns, trucks and cement pads. 

When you’re 2 ½, mud brings worms and worms are quite interesting creatures. 

When you’re 2 ½, mud allows you to stay outside longer because you must wash your boots. For several minutes. Using a scrub brush. To get them spotless. Then spray the kitties for good measure. 

When you’re 2 ½, mud allows you to hunt for bears more effectively, searching for tracks of the beasts that fascinate us so much right now. We’ve found countless “bear” tracks across our farm in the last several weeks, and we’re also convinced Mr. Brown Bear lives in the woods just off Charles Road. You’ve been warned. 

When you’re 2 ½, mud creates opportunities to learn a whole new vocabulary from Mom when she gets the Kubota stuck in the mud and Dad is two time zones west. Mom is not proud of this. 

Oh, to have the optimism of a child, waking in the dark to the excitement of a day ahead, instead of dread. I laid in bed that morning thinking of how tough the day was going to be, and she woke with plans for the day to take advantage of what nature had presented before us. 

I think her mind will change the first time she loses a boot in the mud with two feed buckets in her hands. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

One Day I'll Carry a Purse Again

There are certain things that have no place in our home, so they ride around in the back storage area of my vehicle: a bag of Goodwill clothes that never made it to the store, 12 reusable grocery bags, and three purses.  

Cody was loading the double stroller into the storage area of my vehicle not long ago and soon realized it wouldn’t fit because of the baggage - literally - that was taking up space in my life. 
He was quick to ask, “Why haven’t you delivered that bag of Goodwill clothes we sorted through back in January?” 
Because I always forget they’re there. 
Then, “Do you really need a dozen reusable grocery bags?” 
No, but six don't have an insulated liner in them and six don't have a sturdy I don't know which ones to toss. 
Finally, “These three purses have been in here for a year – do you really need them?” 
My immediate and firm answer was YES.

I’ve not carried a purse since July 1, 2016 – the day I became a mother. I packed an overnight bag and a diaper bag to go to the hospital, and I never picked up a purse again. Not because I didn’t want one, but frankly I don’t have enough hands. Instead, I've tucked everything I need for myself inside a small wallet.

In My Purse, BC (before children) was an array of things, part CVS store, part time capsule. Before children, you could look in my purse and find: a can of Friz-Ease hairspray, two lip glosses, four lipsticks, four credit cards, 45 bobby pins, an array of gum and mints, a risky can of mace, a mirror, expired coupons, band-aids for bad shoes, shabby Kleenexes, most with a mint inside, a Keith Whitley CD, a Robert Earl Keen CD, outdated business cards from two jobs ago, Advil and ticket stubs from shows I went to in 2014. 

But there is no room for those things in a diaper bag. 
Diaper bags are much more selfless and extend beyond one’s self.

When I carried a purse, I spent time in an office, talked a lot to my girlfriends, and cared much about my appearance. Today, I spend a lot of time in a pasture, talk a lot to bred heifers, and do care about my appearance, only because I’m certain a someone could stop by at any given moment and ask about our Certified Angus Beef barn

But one day I’ll carry a purse again. 

Because one day there will be no more diaper bag. There will be no more need for extra bibs tucked in every compartment. There will be no more gummy spoons or Ziplock bags of dry cereal that busted open during the trip. There will be no more thermoses of warm water, waiting for the next bottle. 

There will be no more stickers from the doctor or dum-dums from the bank. No more hair bows to dress up an outfit last-minute, dinosaurs to occupy a baby or toys to keep someone quiet in the waiting room. 

There will be no more crushed goldfish crackers, ground graham crackers or animal crackers without legs. No more dried blueberries, extra pants in case of accidents or one stray shoe. 

There will be no more books with pages stuck together because of fruit snacks left in between, no more earrings with no match, no more spare socks so small that even the smallest in the family outgrew them six months ago. 

There will be no more diapers by the dozen, no more wipes and no more Desitin. No more rattles. No more Tide pens. No more Vaseline. No more pacifiers. Right now, I have a hard time imaging a world without pacifiers. 

There will be no more packing for anyone else but myself in order to leave the house for two hours. I'll no longer need much, at all. 

I guess one day I’ll carry a purse again and it will be a big, vast space waiting to be filled of pieces of my life. With a house key, an array of coupons I'll never use, expensive lipstick that need not be kiss-proof and really great hairspray. Perhaps at that age, I’ll start packing the vast space with my insurance card, eye glasses and tums. And probably a nose aspirator because I have a really hard time letting go.

Between you and I, 
I absolutely dread the fact that 
one day I’ll carry a purse again.