Becoming a Farm Mom: How Each of my Kids has Shaped my Life on the Farm and Beyond.

I’m still very deep in the throws of raising 3 little boys, but what they have taught me and how they have shaped me to the person I am to this point in my life is something that no one else could ever do, and for that, I am forever grateful.

First Time Motherhood.

Prior to and during my first pregnancy, I wasn’t as active on the farm as I am now. Not even close. I was working full time as a receptionist and although I wasn’t entirely enjoying it, it was a step that I needed to take. I wanted to be sure I had done a few things on my own before committing to the farm full time. Farming was always the plan, and one I was fully on board with, but I still wanted to have some freedoms before making that step. I was only 21 when our first was born, and since I got married at 19 I hadn’t built the connections that many people do during a post secondary education or wherever life takes them after high school.

When I got pregnant and eventually placed on medical leave from work, I was home more and seeing the day to day up close on the farm. That was all I needed to see to know it was time to start thinking about what my future would look like.

On the day our first son was born, it was June, we’d had thunderstorms with heavy rain and hail so farm work was basically at a standstill and furthermore, it was also a Sunday. Our only regular “day off” (This was the first sign that our little bundle was literally born a farmer, he came according to the weather and on a day when he wouldn’t interrupt the daily routine) The next day however, it was sunny and hot. The perfect hay making day. After coming for a short visit, my husband paced around the room and said “I think I’m going to go mow now” So he left to get back to the farm and in that instant, I became a “Farm Mom”

I should mention, I don’t begrudge my husband in any way for deciding he had to get to work instead of be there with me. It had to be done, and farm work waits for no one. When the weather dictates your life during certain times of the year, you have to go with it. In all reality, it was probably best to get used to my new normal as soon as possible anyway. Life on the farm isn’t really something you can ease in to, and neither is motherhood – combining the two is the ultimate trial by fire.

I think I fell into motherhood with our first fairly seamlessly. My involvement with the farm was low at that point and I could pick him up and go whenever the mood struck. We went camping with my family when he was 2 weeks old, we could head out for walks or visits without any preplanning and overall I could just soak him in and learn as I went with no pressure from work or other responsibilites, just him.

LESSON LEARNED FROM BABY #1 – Enjoy the freedom.

I didn’t have to rush around and get from A to B, or make any huge decisions about my life unless I wanted to. I got to enjoy him as a baby, fuss over him, soak in those moments that they grow out of so quickly. We could hop in the truck and go scout the fields, or have a tractor ride with daddy. Although I grew up on a farm and knew what the life entailed, in some ways introducing a child to it was it was as much of an introduction to the farm for me as it was for him.

Now that my first baby is almost 12, I look back on that time with him as my only child as so incredibly special. I can say that I truly soaked in as much of that “baby bliss” as I could. Its something that I didn’t get as much of with the next 2 babies to enter our world. I could handle the exhaustion that comes from dealing with a baby who hated naps, had all the reflux and was super attached to his momma. And I can remember all of it. We spent so much time just the two of us, with my husband and his father being the only two working the farm during that time, we were alone a lot and kept each other company. That quickly changed when he was old enough to go with daddy in the tractor and spend more time with his Oma, but I am so thankful I had that with him. When baby #2 came along, a lot had changed and I was in a totally different place in my life.

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Here Comes Baby #2

4 years after welcoming baby #1, our second son was born in July – on a Friday the 13th. I wouldn’t say he cursed us, but it was touch and go for awhile! 😉

A lot had changed for me in those 4 years.

I’d gone to work part time for my aunt who owns a Horticulture Crop Research business. I was working in various fruit and veggies fields doing variety and fertilizer trials. I enjoyed those two days a week working outside of the house. It was a chance to talk to adults, get some amazing exercise hauling bins of squash and lettuce through the fields and an opportunity to learn something every day. The rest of the time was spent at home doing mom stuff, and I had also started working more on our farm during the busiest times – hay season and helping with new flocks of chickens. Not everyday, but when I was needed. During this time I was also enduring pain and illness due to gall stones, which persisted for over year, even after my gall bladder was removed. (After this time, a remaining gall stone was found lodged in my pancreatic duct) This caused other issues such an anxiety and an overall fear that something else was wrong. I would get to a field and need to come home, or be asked to go check on a trial by myself and be scared to be alone. The pain and symptoms struck very quickly and I had a constant fear of it hitting when I wasn’t home where I was the most comfortable. Although we had been trying to have another baby since our oldest was a year old, clearly my body was not well enough to handle that. So as the years passed with one child, I was able to continue growing into life on the farm and at the same time falling deeper in love with it.

I was continually learning during this time. I’d become a better equipment operator, learned how to do minor repairs and we had also began our side project of keeping a few beef cows. I didn’t go back to work at my full time job as a receptionist after our first was born and had made the decision that the farm was definitely going to be my full time job. I really enjoyed the part time gig off farm but knowing we wanted more children, it was a no brainer that since we were able, the farm was where I would be.

So when #2 was due in July, and having another baby in the summer, I was once again alone a lot with a baby, and now also a preschooler. The first few days of being home were a huge adjustment. I was completely exhausted and felt overwhelmed. I called my husband and said I needed help and asked if he would come take our oldest to the fields with him so I could have a nap with the baby. A few minutes later I heard him come in so I grabbed the 4 year old and walked him downstairs, in my pajamas and all of my postpartum glory – only to be met by my father in law. Not my husband. I was so embarrassed, upset and then furious. I needed my husband. The person who was allowed to see me at my worst. The one who I was supposed to count on to bail me out when it was all too much. Needless to say, after this, it was made very clear that when I called for him, it meant I needed HIM. Not a substitute. This was a starting point of a struggle between family and farm. We wanted to do both, but had to get through the muddy waters of figuring out how. In many ways, we still are, but during that time it was so hard.

FIRST LESSON FROM BABY #2

Be humble. Motherhood isn’t pretty, put together or made by design. Its beautifully ugly. Try to embrace it. Its all part of the experience and most of all, it will get better.

By the time boy #2 was a year old, I was full time on the farm and starting to become more involved in the day to day. Attending producer meetings put on by our processing plant and making time to attend poultry conferences where I was able to learn so much more besides what happens on the farm.

I quickly decided I wanted more. More involvement, a seat at the table, a voice at the farm that could contribute to the ability to farm better and smarter and someday look at how I could contribute to agriculture outside of the farm as well. However, we’d also decided we wanted another baby. OK, it wasn’t really a decision so much as a need. The pull to be more active in the farm was strong, but it was nothing compared to the pull of mother nature telling me that I wanted to have another child.

The two years between our second and the arrival of our third were filled with “I want”. I wanted more hands on, more responsibility and more knowledge. All good things, but the time was not right.

SECOND LESSON FROM BABY #2 

You can’t always get what you want. Timing doesn’t always work the way you want it to, and not everything can happen at once. But instead, as the saying goes – you get what you need.

Looking back, I needed that time to “want”. To strive to be better, not only for my future plans but also be a better mother and get to know myself again. That is a huge part of having kids. Losing yourself, but getting to know a new self as the years go by.

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The finale – Kid #3.

If everything I’d wanted after baby #2 had come to fruition, we wouldn’t have the third child we have now. The one who so completely completed our family. I couldn’t have done everything I’d wanted and still be able to handle another newborn, a toddler and a primary student.

As much as I thought I needed to be able to do all of those things at that time, I wouldn’t be where I am not if I’d done them when I wanted to, or thought I wanted to. That’s because without the third child we have now, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. He helped mould me.

FIRST LESSON FROM BABY #3

Every change makes you someone new. You grow, change and learn from every event in your life. It shapes you. Let it.

By the time he arrived, I’d cemented my place on the farm. I worked throughout my pregnancy as much as I could without a fulltime baby sitter, until I got too big to do anything comfortably, and when he was born, I wanted to pick right up where I left off. This is much easier said than done.

By this time the oldest was in school, the middle was in part time nursery school and there were actual schedules that needed to be followed. Not just the one that worked the best for us.

While there was a lot more added to our plates. something else was happening. We became a more cohesive team. We had to. Neither of us could do our own thing and make it work. The age difference between the first and third meant I was being pulled in 3 different directions and that’s not including contributing to the farm. It took each of us being more open with one another, giving up a bit of control in our perspective roles as mom and dad and farmers, and sharing more about what we were struggling with. This allowed us to find a way to work together much better in both areas and it made being parents much more enjoyable.

Our third also has the most easy going personality. He’s so happy go lucky and he’s totally fine to just up and go if we have to and has spent more time bouncing between tractor seats than the other two when they were babies/toddlers.

LESSON #2 FROM BABY #3

Everything seem to go more smoothly when you’re relaxed. ‘One day at a time’ has literally been a motto for me to live by.

Having two kids so close in age during a time of personal growth also gave me confidence. I used to find a babysitter for every little thing. It became more like they were being shuffled around more than they needed to so I could, almost greedily, do what I wanted, when I wanted. It worked for awhile but it was exhausting. For me, and my babysitter (mostly my mother in law). I did this because I felt like I wouldn’t be taken seriously if I had kids with me, and sometimes because I was worried that they’d annoy other people. As I became more involved in committees and off farm activities, I couldn’t keep asking for babysitting every other day. So I just started to bring them with me. I became more confident in myself as a person and with what I had to offer. I enjoyed those off farm roles, and felt I brought value, so if I was going to continue with them others would have to understand that I was a package deal. Where I went, the kids went.

Lesson 3 from Baby #3

My kids have been a huge part of my personal growth. Having my third taught me confidence to go after what I wanted, and not use the kids as an excuse to myself, or as a barrier and just make it work.

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I’ve learned a lot since becoming a mom, more than I’d ever get down on paper. I know they will teach me so much more than they have already, and more than anyone else ever will.

Throughout my life as a mom, I’ve also learned several other important lessons, even if they may be cliché.

IT SERSIOUSLY DOES TAKE A VILLAGE

There were weeks when my oldest was with his Oma more than he was with me. And that’s ok. That space to get through what I needed to get through made me a better mom.

ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY

Where I wanted to be in life, when I wanted to be there doesnt matter. I needed that time and those experiences to get me to this point. Many more lessons and experiences will take me to the next destination.

FIND A FRIEND

My second and third pregnancies happened at the same time as a really good friends pregnancies. Someone who is also a farmer and a farm wife, and who understood the pressures and struggles I was going through. That connection is priceless to me, then and now. Not everyone outside of ag truly understands what it is like to be in, the same as I wouldn’t understand what its like for them.

THIS TOO SHALL PASS

I loved having babies. The newborn stage isn’t a favourite for everyone, but it was intoxicating for me. That being said, from 2008-2018 I lived in what I can only describe as a fog. The sleeplessness and loneliness that small children and farm life can bring doesn’t last forever. The fog may be gone, but the struggle is sometimes still very real, just different.

 

Farm life and motherhood combined is a lot. Do what feels right. Don’t push too hard. And most importantly –

Enjoy it.

 

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