Tuesday, June 24, 2008

4-H Moms

In my mind, no one epitomizes motherhood more than a 4-H mom. If you ever want to see a mother’s love and dedication to her children in action, visit a county fair about a half an hour before the beef showmanship contest.

Along with my admiration for the 4-H moms is a fear of becoming one. I had successfully avoided the topic for years by changing the subject whenever someone asked me when our 10-year-old would be joining 4-H. I could dodge the topic with such skill that the inquiring person did not even realize what had happened.

But when Riley expressed interest in joining, I was unable to dodge. I was rendered excuseless. And I was struck with the cold fear that I would actually have to become a 4-H mom.

Apparently there are many 4-H moms. My sources tell me that there are 6.8 million 4-H members nationwide. Assuming that many of those 6.8 children have mothers, there are more than a few women who have embraced the idea of 4-H motherhood more readily than I have. In fact, I know a few 4-H moms. They are the women who look very frazzled during the third week in July and are barking directives such as, “Johnny, you have to get out of the pool NOW! Your 4-H interview is tomorrow, and you haven’t even started your record book yet!”

My reluctance is not a reflection of the 4-H program itself, which I know to be very beneficial to its members. When all those little voices recite, “I pledge: my Head to clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service, and my Health to better living, for my club, my community, my country and my world,” it cannot possibly be a bad thing.

I am a proponent of encouraging kids to tackle projects and responsibilities. I think seeing a project through from beginning to end is a valuable life lesson that the 4-H program successfully fosters in its members. The adult-youth partnerships and the community service components of the program are also benefits that my children could stand to reap.

In fact, I’m a big fan of 4-H. I think it’s a great idea that my kids become members.

Now I just need to find a good 4-H mom for them.

They’re going to need someone who can brightly encourage them to work on their record books as they go without nagging them and turning it into an episode of tearful tantrums. They will need someone adept at baking cookies for meetings, entertaining toddlers during said meetings, and “helping” to make those demonstration speech posters at the last minute.

The right person should be able to know how to trim a chicken, train a cat, give proper feed rations to a steer, and show a pig. She should know the secret to washing an animal and keeping it clean while it occupies a 10-square-foot pen in which it eats, drinks, and has nowhere to lay down except in the spot where it just dropped the results of the eating and drinking.

The kids’ new 4-H mom should be able to load and unload a calf and drive a pickup and stock trailer in town. She should also be able to back up the camper to the proper position and cheerfully pack enough clothes and food in said camper so that the family can live there happily for several days. She should enjoy using public showers and washing the 4-H child’s only white shirt in the sink.

The ideal mom should be creative and artistic, able to whip up clever display signs and slogans. She must also have a comforting shoulder for the child who is learning about a world in which there are winners and losers.

She should also be familiar with all 110 different 4-H program areas and know the nuances of each well enough that she can coach the child who chooses as his projects Advanced Visual Arts: Draw/Fiber/Sculpt, Sportfishing III, and Meat Goat I.

Since I am not likely to have many applicants for this unpaid and underappreciated position, I will likely have to tackle it myself. I will have to face my fears and recognize my weaknesses. I will have to ask questions, learn the rules, and give it my best shot. And in doing that, I will likely be teaching my kids the best lessons of all.


Rina the Mama Bear said...

I'm tagging you for a meme!

Pony Girl said...

Oh goodness, I remember 4-H! I remember the record books (still have mine) the demonstrations, and my great 4-H leader, Maggie. She was so darn peppy all of the time. Her daughter was, too. They were great leaders. I think you will be doing a great thing by becoming a leader. I co-lead a Girl Scouts troop and let me tell you, there are nights I am so tired after work and don't know how I am going to make it through a one-hour meeting with second graders. But just seeing how happy the girls are to show up and see each other and work on their Try-It's makes it all worth it!

Ian said...

Hi there, from Ian in France,

Sorry to be a bit off topic here but.....

The reason I’m writing is because I am a big fan of farmers’ blogs, and I got frustrated at spending too much time trying to find good ones and then forgetting to bookmark them.

So, I’ve started http://www.farmblogs.blogspot.com

The idea is simple. I ask farm bloggers I like to recommend bloggers they like; I then write to those that they have recommended, as I am writing to you, and ask you to send me a brief description of your blog, and the farm blogs that you recommend.

You were recommended by Marianne at Northview Diary.

I’ve put a link to you on http://www.farmblogs.blogspot.com. (If you can do the same for http://www.farmblogs.blogspot.com that would be great.)

All I ask is that you send me a brief email to info AT ianwalthew.com with a few words about your farm, your blog AND your own favorite farmers’ blogs.

I then make a brief posting, add your recommendations, contact the blogs you recommend, and so it goes.

Looking forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards,

P.S This is a no-advertising, entirely for fun, world-wide community driven blog. I also do regular news postings on world agriculture of all types.

Julia in Sweden said...

Hi! Question from the uneducated swede: What is 4-H?

LoriLiz said...

Have a blast....I was a 4-H kid, and was so excited when our oldest hit "4-H age". I ended up becoming a leader the second year in and am now on the fairboard. And I can't back a truck and trailer anywhere!

Beth from the Funny Farm said...

I had a many years as a 4Her! It was fun.

We do the show thing with our kids now, but not 4-H. We don't have time for it with all the other shows.

Dawn said...

4-H is great! As a 4-H mom, at least you'll have the wide resources of your blog readers at your fingertips. Need a quick idea? Ask us... we'll help!

Jenny said...

I need a 4-H mom, too. My husband won't let us do animals (even though we have several pens and more than enough room to handle it. He just doesn't want to be a 4-H mom I guess. LOL!). But I'm having problems just trying to keep up with the gardening project, sewing, quilting, baking, scrapbooking for my older 2.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I had friends in 4-H growing up, and I had no idea it was so complex. I thought it was just the farm kids getting together and looking at livestock and making quilts and stuff. I'd be intimidated, too!

farmnwife said...

Or you can do what we did. We were in a club that won club of the year for about 10 yrs in a row. So to say the least it was active. Then we switched to a new club in a different county for many reasons. Well, this club didn't even mention record books. Talk about laid back. It is heaven. So shop around.

Anonymous said...

Some other thoughts on 4-H momness you might want to consider...


Anonymous said...

As I sit here printing out the final copy of my two 4-H'ers record books - all I can say is good luck and have fun!

4-H mom in Texas

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