Friday, February 10, 2017

My husband fails at Valentines Day

We've been married 27 years now and I have come to accept that my husband Randy will always fail at Valentines Day. He kind of sucks on birthdays and anniversaries too. He will march right by the aisles full of hearts, bears, roses, and balloons.  He will turn a deaf ear to every diamond store commercial. He won't make any complicated romantic dates. February 14th will arrive, he will look surprised,  turn toward me, and say, "Happy Valentines day! Love you!" That is the extent of his romantic plans. You know what? I'm okay with that. In every other way, he is a good husband and father. He is loyal and dedicated to his family. He just doesn't show his love in the way society thinks is romantic.

Randy and I climbed to the top of Beacon rock this year!

Let's change the idea of what is romantic. To me, romantic is the small things. I love that Randy will take me to see the buttercups blooming, or bring home an interesting rock because he knows I would like it. Romantic is library and lunch dates, like the ones when we were first married. It is road trips together, even if it's just to get parts. It is combine rides and watching the sun go down. It's holding hands and taking walks. Romantic is also the big stuff, like supporting my dreams even when it's hard. When I was working towards my degree, there were a lot of late nights and several times I wanted to quit. Randy always told me, "this is important, don't give up." I think his never ending love and devotion is better than diamonds, chocolates, or giant teddy bears.

Monday, January 16, 2017

I Couldn't Understand the Sacrifice

When we were newly married, we moved out to the farm. It was a big move in many ways. Physically, I left behind family and friends to move out to the middle of nowhere. It was a bigger move emotionally and culturally. All my life I had lived in cities where 40-hour weeks and paid vacations were the norm. The closest I had been to a farm was watching Green Acres on tv.

My new husband had explained to me, "It will be long hours and sacrifice."
I nodded my head like I understood.

Only another farm wife can understand when I say he was gone, a lot. He would leave in the morning before the sun came up and come home after it went down. He would work through lunch, and many times through dinner too. I would keep something warm for him and worry. It seemed like never ending days of him coming home just long enough to eat, shower, and sleep.  I brought out lunches, just so I could see him.  I would jump at a chance to bring him parts, or bring him a bottle of water, because he was never home. I would ask him, "What are you doing?" He would reply, "Just working".

I supported him, but I didn't understand.

He would bundle up and go to work, even when a blizzard raged outside. The roads were barely visible and the weather was so cold. "Why do you risk yourself? Stay home!" I pleaded. He would just reply, "It needs to be done." He would leave with a shovel in his pickup, so he could dig himself out when he got stuck in the deep snow. Somehow, he made it to work and back home, and he would be chilled and tired. Sometimes, sadness would droop his shoulders, and I would find out an animal was sick or a calf died.

I comforted him, but I didn't understand.

He worked weekends and holidays. He missed birthdays, school events, and sometimes it seemed whole summers. I would let the kids stay up late just so they could throw their arms around him and wish him a goodnight.  I know he was exhausted, but he always would talk and play with the kids in the brief moments between work and sleep.

I loved him, but I still couldn't understand.

What I couldn’t understand was the sacrifice. How he could sacrifice years of our marriage, and watching his children grow up? I couldn’t understand how he could sacrifice his own time, his body, and his life with us for ‘just working’. Any vacations we took had to be planned around seeding and harvesting and the needs of the cows. His time with the kids was spent in brief moments and punctuated by his exhaustion. This wasn't a tv sitcom with canned laughter in the background.

I pretended that I understood, but I couldn’t.

Over the years, my children grew up and moved out. My helping out changed to working for the farm. The fields would need weeded, and I didn't think twice about giving up my weekend. If the weeds got out of control, the field would suffer for years. I might work through lunch or come home late, because I just wanted a few more rounds done.

I started to understand.

I would help with the cows in the winter, after they were brought in from pasture. I was there when young heifers struggled to deliver their first calf. I was there when it was born too early and just couldn't make it. I helped to bottle feed calves that were too weak and sick, and sometimes they didn't make it either.

Suddenly, I understood the sacrifice. I understood that in the worst weather, the animals needed us the most. I understood that the worst days for me, were bad days for the farm too. I’ve seen crops that were flattened by storms, and I understood the drive to bring in the crops before the rains. I’ve lived the heartache of replanting every acre and still not sure if there would be a crop.

I finally, truly understood the need to do things right, because this isn't just a job. It's not 40 hours a week. I finally understood that the work you put into a farm is what you get out of it. I understood what it meant to work hard to support your family waiting at home. I understood how hard it was to do another round, knowing it would delay being with everyone I love and care about. I understood the need to finish the field.

Now when my kids call me and ask what I’m doing, I reply, “Just working”.
I think they understand. This is real life. Life isn't easy, but it is worth it.