This time of year always makes me think of you. Proms, summer breaks and graduations.
The best four years of your life, they claim.
Do it all. Do it right. Don’t mess it up. Get it figured out. Keep it together. Relax. Have fun. Smile pretty...No a real smile, not a fake smile.
I’m going to be real though.
The best four years of your life? Yea, that’s a load of crap.
Now some parts of high school can be fun. Most people will look back and have some things they can smile about. You might be blessed to have a teacher or two that pour into you and a friend or two you keep for life.
But some parts of high school just suck. They are really hard. Whether you fit or you don’t, the pressure feels constant. There’s these expectations from everyone around you to live in the moment, focus on your future, be kind, be cool, be smart, be fun...
And you’re tired. Man, are you tired. Your body and brain need more sleep than our “do everything now” culture allows for and a constantly plugged in world means it feels impossible to catch a break.
Meanwhile adults around you keep telling you how easy you have it with their “wait ‘till you grow up and have real responsibility” threats.
Wait ‘till you grow up?
Yes, please. Wait.
Because it gets better. Oh Lord, it gets so much better.
You’re going to discover a big world full of people, places and things. Maybe you’ll stay home or maybe you won’t.
But either way, it’s so much better.
You’re going to find your people. Friends who love you and get you. You’re going to find your person. You’ll realize none of those things you thought mattered for forever love actually do and you’ll say “I do” to someone who feeds your soul.
You’re going to find yourself. Not who the world tells you to be, but who God made you to be.
You’re going to get the job. You’re going to make the move. You’ll buy the house, tear it apart and realize remodeling is not like they show on TV.
You’re going to stop making time for things that don’t matter and start making time for everything that does.
You’ll bring a baby or two into the mix and you’ll suddenly feel the weight of the world and the opportunity of it too.
You’re going to wake up one Sunday morning before the sun is up, all on your own because you can’t sleep in anymore, and realize you’re in a good spot. You’ll sip your coffee next to the person you’ve built a life with and you might think back to those “best four years of your life”.
But you probably won’t.
Because you’ll have lived so much after you left those lockers behind that you’ll struggle to remember much about it. They’ll be so many good things, hard things, fun things, important things between now and then that you won’t spend much energy reliving those glory days.
Hang in there kid. The pressure feels impossible right now but I promise, I promise, this isn’t it. This isn’t all there is. And this is not the best four years of your life.
The best times are still coming.
Here we are again, nearing the height of the spring season, and things are about to get crazy. But this isn’t our first rodeo, we know what’s coming and won’t break a sweat.
Here’s the thing though. We’ve gotten tougher, smarter and more independent because that’s what this way of life forces you to do.
But we didn’t start here. Even if you can’t recall the last time you fell in a heap on the floor in a mess of tears over cold dinners, missed dates, endless mud, or a damn appliance you can’t get fixed by yourself at 10 p.m. on a Thursday night during harvest. Even if you don’t remember, you were there. I was there.
We didn’t start this way. We started with soft hands, soft hearts and some sort of romantic expectation of what it meant to marry into farm life.
With every spring planting, fall harvest, winter calving, rain, drought, break down, mess-up, we’ve gotten tougher. Smarter. Stronger.
But we can’t forget where we started because there is a girl coming behind you that needs your grace. Maybe she’s marrying your brother, your neighbor or someday your son.
She’s going to show up with those same expectations we did and she’s going to feel the sting of reality, just like we did.
She’s going to wipe her eyes and look around and see that she’s surrounded by women who don’t break a sweat when farm life hits and she’s going to want to run. She’s going to tell herself she can’t, she won’t, she never will.
She will assume those women surrounding her were always that way. That they were just born with grit.
And when that happens and she’s convinced herself she messed up, she can’t do it... we have two choices.
We can go to our circle, bash that girl and tell ourselves we were in fact born this way and that she isn’t tough enough, wasn’t raised right, is entitled or selfish or just not meant for the farm.
Or we can put a hand out and pull her up. We can give her a break. We can tell her it’s OK. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to do farm life different than your neighbors and your in-laws. It’s OK to need time to get it figured out.
It’s OK because we did that to. Even if we’ve forgotten all about it.
A farm wife still figuring it out
P.S. Penned in response to a woman’s online and very public rant towards her daughter-in-law that made me very grateful for the kind, grace giving MIL I was blessed with.
Kate Lambert grew up in northern Illinois, not on a farm but active in FFA and showing livestock.
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