Thursday, April 17, 2008

Make it Work - Part 2 - The Girls

Part 1

Regardless of my issues with Craig and horses, everything changed when I got pregnant. I stopped riding for both of my entire pregnancies because my doctor told me that if I fell off I could risk detaching the placenta from the uterus, and if that were to happen the baby could not be saved. That was scary enough for me, so I didn't take any chances and just didn't ride.

I was bummed because I had never gone so long without riding, not to mention having 6 weeks of bed rest at the end of Lily's pregnancy when I couldn't even go out to the barn every day. Craig agreed to come to the barn with me once a week during those six weeks to be sure that I didn't do anything stupid. When I wasn't on a restricted schedule, I coordinated with my trainer so that I could groom and tack up Kaswyn for her and watch her ride him.

That was the first time that Kaswyn had been in full training for more than a few weeks. I trust my trainer and I know that she did wonderful work with him, but it made me a little sad to see my horse progressing while all I was doing was getting rounder and wider. Kaswyn was very happy to see me, so I just tried to focus on the time when I could get on him again.

I ended up having a c-section with Lily (the little booger was breech!), and I didn't get on Kaswyn until I had my 6 week post-partum checkup. When the doc gave me the green light I called my trainer and we set a time where she could hold Lily while I rode Kaswyn. That first ride was wild. My horse was so happy to have me riding him that he was jumping out of his skin. At one point the started bucking joyfully, and I thought I might come off. I suddenly realized that my abdominals were complete mush and I was having problems just holding myself upright in the saddle. Not to mention posting the trot, cantering, or sitting the trot (which was impossible for weeks). Now after two kids my body is almost back to normal.

Those early days where the kids were babies and I wanted to go ride were tough on everyone, but mostly for Craig. I would wait for him to get home from work and try to time my last feeding session to end just as he got home, then I'd run out to the barn. Since I was breastfeeding he did his best to keep the baby happy while I was gone. These riding sessions were very short, and I felt very rushed and stressed. I knew I had a baby at home who wanted more boob as well as a husband who was unequipped to give her said boob. I was constantly looking at the clock and rushing through everything, and my stomach would clench when my cell phone would ring and I would hear a baby wailing in the background and Craig's harried voice saying "Are you on your way yet?" Sometimes I would tell him just to try and give her a bottle, but sometimes she wasn't having that. She wanted her mamma, and would torture her father until she got what she wanted.

Now that the kids are older this isn't an issue, especially with Lily who is Daddy's Girl to the end and, while she's happy to see me, it's Daddy she wants. Macey is a little more of a Mamma's girl, but lately there are some things that only Daddy can do. I try and spend my evenings playing with the kids for some amount of time, but after working all day and then riding I'm tired, and there is only so much "You're a monster! Chase me!" I have the energy for.

I already described how we coordinate picking the girls up every day, and I don't go to the barn every day so sometimes it's not an issue. But spending time at the barn creates different problems than just girl toting logistics. It involves guilt.

I have long struggled with the guilt of not being home when I'm at the barn. I've always been made to feel guilty about spending time with my horse weather it's from my parents, my husband(s), or even my friends. The only people who didn't make me feel guilty about being at the barn were barn people! To be fair, most people didn't purposely try and make me feel bad, and most of the pressure I put on myself. But the guilt was still there, nagging at me.

Since my girls are sweet little things (even though Macey, the youngest, has somehow recently picked up saying "Dammit!" when something doesn't go right. I blame Daddy because her inflection and tone matches his exactly) they don't make me feel guilty about being at the barn. They even get to come with me occasionally - sometimes to ride, sometimes just to give my horse medication or make his food or something. They love the barn. They like riding, but they also like to run in the arena, play in the dirt, and feed the horses.

I decided long ago that if my girls decide they don't want to ride, that will be okay with me. I grew up seeing too many spoiled brat kids who didn't really want to ride but were pushed into it by their parents. It was an awful sight and did everyone a disservice, especially the poor horse or pony. So while I would love to share my passion with my girls, I won't force them into it. In fact, whatever passion they choose to have I will support to my fullest capacity.

Unless it's stripping or whoring. I'm not sure how supportive I could be about THAT.

Stay tuned for Part 3 - Work


Mrs. Mom said...

Even with having the horses right here at home with us, riding time is still a premium. Sparse too. I think my boys are younger than your two little ladies, so keeping up with them is a trial on my husband- een though he gives it his all. (Guys just dont seem to figure out how to keep up with little ones do they? LOL)

Having horses, children, and job(s) is one heck of a challenge. Makes me wonder how the heck we survive it frankly. I know it all leaves me pretty much worn down and out most days...

Looking forward to hearing more about your juggling act. It helps knowing I am not the only one out here, trying to keep all the balls flying...

Rising Rainbow said...

It saddens me think that something you love as much as horses brings guilt along with it.

You are trying hard to make sure you keep your life in balance. Not to mention that you are teaching your girls it is ok to pursue their passion in life. I think that is a very special gift you give to them.

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog, it's very inspiring. It must be a hard job managing children and horses! My 2 horses are more than enough hehe. But it's also nice to know that there's other people out there who share the same feelings, I feel bad sometimes as well (my partner gets a big neglected when it comes to horses!) but we are all human and we can only try! And we should lessen up on the pressure we put on ourselves.

Anonymous said...

When my kids got around 5-6, I bought them an old POA gelding and a Wintec kid saddle with a high pommel and cantle and a handle in the front. That pony would follow me and my horse around like a big dog. One kid behind me on our gentle Andalusian, another on the pony. Sometimes, I just put a halter on "Thor" under his little bridle and ponied him along. We went on many long long walks together in the afternoons after school. He even carried them into the mountains when my son was not quite 6 years old. An old babysitter pony is worth his weight in gold. I sold him to another mom once my kids had outgrown him for her five year old! Wish you had him.

I agree with Rising Rainbow, your girls will ultimately have a lot of respect for you for pursuing your passion, and you will be giving them a powerful role model about being a woman and a mom.

I remember when my two were little bitty. I used to sit them in a chair at the side of the flat acre that comprised my "arena" and tell them that they were the horse show judge, just to get them to keep still where I could keep an eye on them and ride. Then I'd get to ride for maybe 15-20 minutes ... however long I could keep them occupied!

It will get easier as they get older. Promise. :-) I was thinking about that last evening as my ten- and eleven-year-olds were helping me with a quick clean up of the house, washing dishes, running the vacuum, making their rooms somewhat neat. They'll be helping you with horse chores before you know it.

Pax. Kimberly

Dressage Mom said...

Mrs. Mom,

You certainly are not the only one trying to have it all. The problem is that horses are an addiction, not just a hobby!


I was programmed to feel guilty about horses from my first days of taking riding lessons. My parents were so against it and if I did anything wrong would punish me by not letting me ride. That kind of stuff is difficult to get over, but I'm trying.


Riding is one way I ease the stress of my life, but horses and riding come with their own set of stresses and pressure. But it's a good kind of pressure, you know?


I too wish I had a trusty pony for the girls. I can barely afford one horse so there is no way I can swing a pony too! And I'm counting on the girls helping me out around the house. I'm also going to teach them to clean a mean stall and how to keep tack really clean! If they get into horses, that is. And I really hope they do. :)

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