The Reality of Being a Mother and an Equestrian
My riding has been going really good recently (with the exception of my recent fall, but if anything, it made me work harder, better, faster.) Stu and I can now make some pretty sweet circles, which might not sound like much but it’s a pretty big accomplishment for a horse that previously had the turning radius of a train. He’s bending nicely around the turns, and being a responsive very good boy. We even trotted some pretty sweet jumps, as in, a single raised pole, 18 inches off the ground. And when I say trotted, I mean that literally, he would not jump it, just a trot step, every single time, which is not nearly as much fun. But still, overall this is pretty fun for me. Instead of feeling like I have the perpetual greenie, now I have a horse that’s making progress!
I will point out that the slow progress is entirely my own fault, due to my other commitments in life. I can only get out there 2-3 times a week usually, and that makes for slow progress. Someone who actually got out there more often would have made way more progress than me. But I’m okay with that, I’m just enjoying my horse, I don’t really have any timelines, except the need for as much fun as fast as possible. But other than that, we keep it casual.
But my slow progress came to a complete halt with a new development: my kids are walking petri dishes of disease.
It started out with just a little fever. There was some vomiting, which at the time I would have said was terrible, but now I would consider it just light vomiting. This bug traveled through the three of them, and a lesser version through me, and then vanished into the wind.
Mere moments later, we got round two, which included much more vomiting and far too much bodily fluid. I’m pretty sure this experience was the one that people use to warn others from having kids. Like forget about all the snuggles and kisses and love, oh no, this far outweighs the good parts and makes it not worth it. This is the experience of changing the sheets on the bed so many times in one night we ran out of sheets and had to invent sheets using other fabrics. This was the scrubbing the floors and furniture multiple times to get out fluids. It was gross.
This cycle of illness went on for about three weeks, because each child politely waited until the previous child finished being sick before they became sick. At any given time, at least one child was sick, but no more than 2 children were sick. This slightly reduced our laundry loads.
Now finally, with all the children seeming to be better, I got sick with strep throat. I haven’t had it since I was 8 years old, so I know it was somehow from one of the kids. As I struggled with that, all the kids seemed fine, but now that I’m recovering, and the end seems in sight, the first child is showing signs of also having strep throat. It’s time for another round of sickness.
Yesterday, I had to drive to the barn to drop off the board check since I hadn’t been in so long. I drove next to the field and looked out, and happened to see Stu merrily trotting along. He looked completely happy, out with the herd, in a field lush with grass. He didn’t seem to have a care in the world.
Logically, he doesn’t care. Horses don’t think the way we do, they don’t care if they are ridden, if they reach their “full potential,” or accomplish goals. They just want their friends and their freedoms. I’m not worried about him, he’ll be there when I’m ready.
Me, on the other hand, I need the barn. I need the distraction of something other than just taking care of kids and working. I need the moments of freedom with my horse. I need the adult conversations with other horse lovers. It’s easy to get burned out on responsibilities when I don’t have time that’s just for me.
Sometimes I think about when I was young, a barn rat, and I went to the barn every single day. I remember seeing the older women at the barn who only seemed to come out, from my perspective, occasionally. They were all wonderful ladies, of course, and I loved talking with them about their horses, telling them about whatever silly thing I saw their horse do, or how sweet I thought their horse was, but I always thought it was strange they only seemed to come out a few times a week.
Now that I’m that woman, I get it. As much as I hate to admit it, there’s more to life than just the horse.
I envy the lives of those who can do it. I wish I could. But at the same time, my life is how I made it, and I love what I have. I complain about my sick kids, but I love my kids, and I can’t imagine life without them now. They are sick now (although maybe it’s a red herring?) but they won’t be sick forever, and one day they’ll come riding with me. Maybe we will go get a pony from Chincoteague, or they’ll want to show, or they’ll want to trail ride. Maybe they’ll just love living on a farm and have a goat or something.
The sickness is just a temporary setback. It stinks in the short term that I’m not able to go riding, but it’s not forever. I’ll be back riding soon enough, and I can hire a trainer if I feel like we’re going to slow, or maybe hire a babysitter for a few days so I can catch up. It’s not the end of the world.
Years from now, when I look back on this, I probably won’t be thinking, “I missed three weeks of riding because of this!” Well, I might think that a little. But I’ll probably be thinking, “Wow, I remember how gross kids can be!” with a bit of a laugh. I’ll remember holding them, comforting them, rocking them in my arms. I’ll remember stroking their heads and telling them it’s going to be okay. Missing out on riding might stink in the moment, but horses will always be there. Stu will be ready the moment I’m ready.
But yeah, it does stink for a while. Especially since it’s been kind of gross here right now. Ugh, no matter what, this is definitely the grossest part of having young kids. But don’t let it turn you off kids completely! Maybe you’ll get lucky, my little girl wasn’t gross at all. But my two boys are very gross. So results may vary.