Thursday, August 28, 2008

What I Thought I Wanted

I have always known that I would live in the country. In fact, it’s one of the few childhood goals that I have actually accomplished.

As an eight-year-old girl, I planned to grow up in short order and live in a two-story white house with a front porch swing overlooking a rippling creek and rolling pastures dotted with cows and sheep. I would never sell the cute lambs or calves, regardless of their gender. My ranch would be financed by my successful career as a veterinarian or pediatrician, and I would only consider marriage and family after completing my PhD.

My jolt into reality occurred at some point during the first two weeks of zoology, during which we were required to decapitate and living maggot and study the internal structure of the organism. Upon realizing that I could not endure year’s worth of tedious lab work, I changed my focus to becoming a writer, a teacher, or anything that didn’t require me to set foot in the science building again.

My dream further unraveled when I found myself married halfway through college, having a baby shortly after college graduation, and living on a farm with pastures that had long since been seeded to wheat.

While bits of my dream have remained intact, the two-story house remains elusive. The closest thing I have to a rippling creek is the Missouri River a few miles away, and if I had a front porch swing, I would be too busy to sit in it, anyway.

I now realize that some goals are best left unaccomplished, anyway. If I had persevered for the PhD, I would perhaps have joined the growing number of women who find themselves with a busy career but no one to go home to.

Yes, my eight-year-old wisdom was certainly flawed. I even sometimes wonder why I wanted to live in the country, especially this time of year. Sure, it’s beautiful in the summer, but living in the city and taking an occasional Sunday drive to the country would definitely be easier. In the city, a person can mow the yard in half an hour with a relatively small machine. In the country, mowing the yard means cutting the several acres around the house and outbuildings. It is an all-day affair and requires an expensive mower with a sizeable deck or, alternatively, a gate that is purposely left open so the cows can tackle the job. The latter method has its own shortcomings, such as the casualties of trees, flowers, and sidewalks, so it is only advised under desperate circumstances.

It was while trying to mow the “yard” recently that I considered another problem with living in the country. As I hopped on and off the mower a few thousand times to run into the house and make sure the younger kids were still napping and the older kids weren’t trying to set the house on fire, I realized that in the city, I would have access to babysitters, allowing me to actually start and finish a project during the same week.

As I write this, I have a half-pruned shrub, a half-watered flower bed, a half-mowed yard, a pile of half-done laundry, a half-balanced checkbook, and a not-even-close-to-half-clean house. Each of these projects was interrupted by a child needing to go potty, a nose needing wiped, a child needing dressed, a meal needing fixed, or an ouch needing kissed.

Still, when it comes right down to it, I am glad my kids have more than 500 square feet of yard in which to play, and they most certainly don’t care whether or not it is carefully manicured. When they look back on today, they will remember that I put down the trimmer and picked up a storybook. They will remember that I turned off the mower and turned on the sprinkler for them to run through.

Most of all, they will remember all the things made possible by a life in the country: the baby chicks that arrived this spring, the kittens discovered in the barn, riding their bikes up and down the driveway with no fear of traffic, and the sights and sounds that only summer in the country can provide.

Even though I'm not where I thought I wanted to be, I'm where I want to be.

How about you?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Parts of where I am in my life are where I want to be, while other parts of my life are painfully, awfully far from where I want to be or ever thought I'd be. Your post made me cry, both happy and sad. :*/

Robin @LoopiRobbi@aol.com, since AIM won't let me sign in.

Andrea said...

I have always said that I wanted to marry a cowboy. I wanted the "real" out west kinda cowboy. I grew up riding horses, went of to college to ride horses, and didn't seem to find my cowboy. Years later I married an ex rodeo rough stock rider. So, in the end I did find my cowboy. It just took me a bit longer than my dream thought. I love the country too.

Prairie Chick said...

where I want to be, where I always wanted to be. I never had high ambitions but my lil' house on the prairie dreams have all come true and I'm lovin' every (well almost every, you know how it is) minute of it.

Mum-me said...

I'm nowhere near where I thought I would be, but I'm not sorry (except about the bit where I ALWAYS insisted my husband would be a millionaire - that would be very nice, but certianly not necessary.)

And living in the city doesn't mean you have easy access to babysitters. I live in our capital city, and I can't get anyone to come and mind my children..... more than once! I don't think many babysitters want to look after 6 children all at the same time!

Ann from Montana said...

Always an interesting question...I answered this recently at another spot, but it is something I think about a lot... before I write the "why" I should say that I am 53, single and have no children - do my ability to do what I want is far greater than if I had husband and/or children.

I think about the question because I, by the grace of God, AM where I want to me and during the inevitable times when things are difficult I want to remember and be thankful for the parts that are so right. And truthfully, when I learned to be thankful also for the difficult parts I found out how much I learned about myself and life.

Also, I want to be vigilant and open to opportunity, to exploring - to enjoying where I am now as well as embracing what may come.

I chose where I now live. I made the choices that allow me to live simply, rurally, in a beautiful [to me] spot. I work from home as an independent consultant which is most days wonderful and others scary as all get out.

I had the big city experience (San Fran and L.A. - 13 years) - but I always wanted to live in a cabin in a tree filled place with the sun filtered through the pines...that's where I am.

Anonymous said...

After 43 years of country life and 3 children I can really relate to the half done jobs. Just as well they wait for you....the children growing don't. Enjoy and enjoy them and you will get to enjoy them for ever.

Love your photos also and always enjoy my visits here. Still have many things part done while family life inserts itself here and there, but I enjoy the journey, some rough, some smooth, always memorable. I think that's all that matters.

Love to you and yours BBM

Dawn said...

Some of my life is where I thought I wanted to be... other areas, not so much.

But, it turns out that where I am is where I'm supposed to be... and I'm incredibly blessed and happy.

Blessings!

minnesotamom said...

Short answer: I'm getting there. :)

ZenPanda said...

Fun, I live in the city & most jobs around the house are half done too... maybe it's not where you live...

I am where I should be even if it isn't where I thought or planned to be all those years ago.

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit new to your blog, but am thoroughly enjoying your musings. They are thoughtful, and many times, parallel to my own experiences.

While we don't own a farm, we do live in the country, surrounded by farms, and most notably, a domestic herd of elk. I imagined myself married to a man who wore bow ties and wing-tip shoes. That same girl also thought she'd end up in the downtown district of our city. Ah, God always has a better plan! I'm married to a flannel-donning, cowboy boot-wearing, tractor-driving, absolutely-no-tie-wearing, honest and loyal man who God knew would help chisel me into the woman he wanted me to be.

What's more, my children prefer the smell of manure and calls of the elk to smog and blaring horns. In the words of Mary Engelbreit, "Don't do what you like, like what you do!" (Or maybe that should say, "Don't go where you want, want where you are!")

Blessings to you,
Christy W.

Farm Fresh Jessica said...

Oh. MY. Goodness. We were 8 year old twins! Then somewhere that dream morphed into living a cosmopolitan life in the city and being a world traveler.

And now, I'm barefoot with a baby on my chest and content with my place in the world.

Baby Tunnel Exodus said...

I'm fond of saying if you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans. Not that He doesn't care for us; that He cares so much More. His plan is always better than our own, so even if I'm not where I thought I would be, or planned to be, I'm right where He wants me to be and happy about it.

I planned to be a career Army wife, 6 children, PTA, owning our own home with enough in the bank to sleep easy. My husband was medically discharged from the Army 17 years ahead of schedule for an injury, we stopped at 3 children, PTWhat?, we rent, and I stay in prayer our new business too often to sleep easy.

But God will always use a Mess for a MESSAGE. Well life is certainly messier than I had planned, but I am blessed to spread His Message and I'm loving every minute of it.

jane said...

My life is far from comfortable. Life is a constant battle. But, I had a epiphany several years ago. All I really wanted was a wonderful family and to live where I could see the Catskill Mountains. I have both. I'm blessed.

Anonymous said...

I may not have everything I wanted or want, but I was blessed with two healthy and happy kids; and a great husband who loves me for me..

Sandy

 
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