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KAREN SCHWALLER

Memoirs of a young farm mother

April 21, 2017
Farm News

It doesn't take very long for a first-time mother-urban or rural-to lose track of all the lofty goals she once had about being the perfect mother and homemaker.

We went from one to three children in two pregnancies. We'd seen multiple births out in the barns all the time, but now it had come to the house. And our house resembled a barn for many months afterward as I navigated my way through cloth diapers for two, projectile spit-up, chocolate chip cookie slobber on high chairs and in hair; small plastic building pieces hidden in the carpet; chair and blanket forts, "sale barn" set-up days, implements strewn about the kitchen and living room, and being yelled at as I carried the overflowing laundry basket through the living room with a toddler shouting, "Mom! You're walking on our corn field!"

And I had never repeated myself so many times in a day. It was only an inkling of what was to come as I entered my 50s, but that I wouldn't be able to blame that on the kids.

I handled so many dirty diapers with twins that when my husband announced he was going to have urea put on (his fields), it sounded more like a medical condition.

After all of that diaper rinsing in the toilet, I was surprised by one of our sons who, (when older and helping clean up the shop one day), came to me with a handkerchief held by a pair of pliers. Suspecting a sprinkling of raccoon doo-doo or some other atrocity associated with it, I asked him what was on it. His only reply was, "I don't know....boogers or something."

Even I-a girl-could pick up something as mysterious as a pair of compression shorts off of his bedroom floor (without pliers), sniff them to determine the caliber of cleanliness and decide what to do with them. After all, I've smelled way worse than that on the farm.

Farm wives and moms get used to terrible smells everywhere. In fact, terrible smells seem to follow her family members wherever they are due to the nature of their work.

I remember coming home from our county fairgrounds late one night after preparing for the kids' first 4H sheep show the next morning. Everyone was exhausted and the kids were all piled on top of one another, sleeping in the back seat of the pickup on the way home.

I noticed an obnoxious smell about halfway home and asked, "What reeks in here?"

My husband tiredly replied, "I think it's us."

Probably my most annoying memory of having young children is when we stopped to visit a friend of mine who had just retired from his job in town. Our boys were 18 months old and our daughter was 3 years old at the time. They were all behaving fairly well, thus, the guts to bring them all to his acreage to be set free for a few minutes before we went home.

I had become a stay-home mother when our twins were born. Three children in daycare would have made a living for the daycare woman and not for me, so we went without some things in order to be able to afford it. My husband worked a full-time job in town in order to keep his farming dream alive, so I was doing a solo job of mothering and parenting most of the time during those baby and toddler years as well. Much like farming, it was a relentless job that never ended-especially on days when everyone was ill and the "sick laundry" piled up while kids needed to be held, comforted and cared for; when the diaper pail was calling, when they could tip a cart over in the grocery store, when Mother Nature called in stores, when everyone needed to eat, and especially after all of the children could out run me.

I swear that toddlers could sweep the gold medal stands at Olympic track events.

My friend said to me as we were visiting, "...so, how do you like loafing?"

I'm pretty sure the look on my face must have been the reason for his back-peddling.

I'm also pretty sure it was the last time he uttered those words to a young mother.

Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reacher her by email at kschwaller@evertek.net and at www.karenschwaller.com

 
 

 

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