We put 2018 in the books yesterday in a not-so-wonderful fashion. True to our Christmas Vacation vibe, the girls and I slept in, having a hub-free house for the morning due to a wedding party and blizzard warning the previous evening that kept him out of town. Had I been feeling better, that probably would have been me stuck out there with him too, but I had a cold that had been creeping up on me for days and wasn’t feeling at all like dancing or coughing on people not wanting to be as sick as me.
Midway through morning snuggles, the power went out – wide-spread outages during a blizzard/windchill warning. Not the best start to the morning but it was up within the hour and all things were back to normal for the moment.
The morning progressed uneventful. Livestock was checked on, breakfast was served, binge watching was well in the works for all of us. After lunch, the pipes froze. The temperature had been steadily dropping through the day, the windchill close to -20 and dipping lower by the minute. I set about fixing this issue as best I could which was time consuming and frustrating. It’s a true practice in patience when your pipes freeze and you suddenly realize just how much you rely on running water in your house.
An hour or so later and our water was back on but keeping it on throughout the evening proved to be a bit tricky. Then third blow. When things happen like this, it’s really difficult to ignore that old saying that bad things come in threes.
I went out to tend to the livestock, layering up against the dangerous temperatures, and was heartbroken to find that one of our does had still-birthed her babies.
This is part of raising livestock. I understand that more than I care to sometimes. My parents raised sheep, my husband’s family raised cattle, now we’re raising goats. I posted a while ago about the hardships of running a farm, even a small hobby one. This specific hardship makes me want to call it quits sometimes. Losing babies, comforting mothers or, in last nights case, being disheartened by how little the mother seems to care that she has no babies to look after is never easy. This is the third year we have bread our herd queen and it’s the third year we’ve faced this type of situation with her. She’s not a good mom. I wont elaborate because it’s difficult for me to even think of how to word it but simply put – she’s not cut out for the task of mothering and both my husband and I have agreed that she will not be bred again.
At that moment, sitting among my goats and feeling like a complete failure, I questioned whether or not I was cut out for raising goats. I’ve done this before and recognize it as part of the grief process. But those first few moments when you’re in the thick of it…it’s very difficult to think past the guilt and heartache.
I went inside and called my mom who has always been my go-to when I need someone to talk to who can make me feel more centered. When I got off the phone with her, my oldest came out and asked me if i was okay.
No, I wasn’t. And I told her that. I explained as bluntly as I could what had happened and how upset I was with everything. I won’t hide things from her. It never works when I try to anyway.
Then my ten year old leaned over, hugged me tightly and said, “It’s sad, sometimes…having animals. It’s hard.”
She didn’t sob or loose her composer at all. She cried quietly with me and together we shared our sorrow over the loss and hardship of raising livestock.
It struck me later, as I was straightening up the house and keeping myself distracted – how composed and comforting Sammy had been. And then I started thinking about other things where she’d caught me off guard with how rational and understanding she had been in those situations.
We’ve had those tough conversations about .sexuality because it’s really throw in kids faces these days. Words like transgender, homosexual, bisexual…they’re all words used in context in school settings. Some schools more commonly than others. The middle school I work at has had to get creative with how to provide restrooms to transgender students or students that don’t identify with a gender.
My daughter brought it up one day and after fumbling a bit for a suitable response, I decided straight forward and honest was the best route. Her open-mindedness to everything was, in all honesty, heartwarming and refreshing. To see someone so young not holding any bias or discrimination in her heart made me so proud.
Then there was the day when I talked candidly about the changes she would be going through. There was no “Ick, mom, that’s gross!!” or any kind of horror or confusion. There was quiet acceptance and thoughtfulness to everything I told her. And when I was dealing with the beast myself one day, she gave me an understanding nod and said, “Oh, your period, huh?”
A ten year old sympathized with the hormones and issues I was facing and I couldn’t help but laugh and thank her for her understanding.
Last night, standing in my bathroom, scrubbing the counter, I thought about how amazing this child was, how thankful I was to have her, how proud I was of her ability to take in information, process it, have such mature responses and how sure she was of herself.
And it all came back to one thing – I made her. This wonderful, amazing, open-minded, charismatic, self-assured little woman…she’s mine.
Knowing that, I didn’t feel like so much of a failure anymore.