Life, a series of choices. We chose that I became pregnant. Lucky me.
The end will be nigh in late summer, but the season stretches lazily ahead with promises of heat and high humidity which ultimately result in fat feet, low energy and pure exhaustion. Oh, and a fatness more attributable to chocolate and ice-cream than the weight of the little leech in my belly.
Ahh pregnancy, the joys. At least seeing stars is one of my favourite complications.
“You’ve got to consider yourself semi-retired at the moment,” my father kindly told me recently. “Otherwise you’ll go mad.”
Ain’t that the truth! All I want to do is get on my horse and go for a ride around the bush. And I still could you know, EASILY, I only need to find a high enough step to climb up on the horse… as well as a properly quiet horse which I don’t have because when I’m not pregnant I like to ride the crazy ones. Plus it’s also not fully safe – and I didn’t reach eight months for something bad to happen to my baby because of a wanton decision I made – which is frustrating in itself!
I love cattle, horses, and dogs. Educating a young horse, followed and aided/hindered by a loyal kelpie, while mustering big paddocks the long dry summer grass and the powerful scent of the little flowering Penny Royal after a mob of cattle crushes it on its way past.
I love droving a mob and working the cattle stock in the yards, the grit and the dust are all just part of it. I grew up with it and I’m good at it. It all takes patience and skill.
Pregnancy also takes patience. A skill and a virtue… except that kind of patience is much harder for me to come by.
The full-stop that is pregnancy which means my body takes over completely. It’s annoying to have to sit on an overturned bucket to weed the vegie garden and on a stool in the shower to shave my legs.
I know it’s not for very long, I know it’s just the way it is, and it’s all worth it, blah blah.
It’s particularly frustrating because I’m used to being the driver of my life but more often than not pregnancy relegates me to passenger status. At the moment I don’t grab the bull by the horns, I watch while someone else does it for me. Grrrrr.
Despite the blah blahs, I actually have proof there is a Rhyme and Reason to it all. Rhyme is three and a half and Reason has six weeks to go before it pushes its way out into the world.
Rhyme is a chatty, sweet little thing who picks me flowers almost every day. Who cares if it’s just geraniums? She got her first little pair of cowgirl boots at one and her first Akubra at two. She talked before she was two and was toilet trained at two and a quarter. I’ve spent a lot of quality time with our little cherub perhaps to the detriment of my career but for the betterment of her and our family.
She was 15 months old the day she first rode her pony, Bullbar, so named because he spent most of his days tied to a ute’s bullbar waiting for her to come and ride. We sing songs naming all our horses and how we’re going to ride across the creek together.
Melt your heart that little cowgirl does. And now that she’s three and a half she wants a stockwhip for Christmas.
Nobody said, when I first fell pregnant, that my days would whiz by like an out-of-control merry-go-round but that every single, solitary task I attempted to undertake while accompanied by a child would take twice as long as it used to. Like a simple trip to the washing line or interrupting the grocery shopping to backtrack to the toilets with a toddler. Even packing and getting in to the car to be able to go shopping takes an age!
But it’s ok, it’s not all bad, in fact it’s not bad, it’s just different, a new normal.
I still work from home a little and work in town on a casual basis. At home it’s hard to conjure motivation to write when a busy little person constantly interrupts.
As soon as I start to get a roll on Rhyme turns up. “Mumma?” “Hmmmn?” “Would you like to watch me dance?” Brown eyes all wide and charming.
Inward sigh. “Yes, of course.”
Yes, I want to further my career. No, I don’t want to consign her first tender years of education to someone who isn’t me. Yes, we could do with the money but no, it doesn’t bother me too much, we’re a helluva lot better off than some people!
“Just a spoonful of sugar helps the mediss go down, mediss go down…” she sings cheerfully on her way past, brown curly ringlets bouncing as she walks. Bless Mary Poppins.
Not long later Rhyme returns with her ‘kids’ (a plastic doll I christened ‘Chucky’ on account of his ugliness and the knitted Josie, Chucky’s girlfriend/sister/wife/friend depending on the day) in her little yellow shopping trolley.
It may take time, possibly more than a few years but I will return to the workforce on my terms.
I plan to be on a horse within a month of the birth like I was with Rhyme. It’ll be just us, one little cowboy and one little cowboy-girl.
And I will continue to juggle farming, working and family life, as everyone does, with priority swaying in the favour of my family. And much to my husband’s disgust, I think Reason would make a great name for a boy or girl.
“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*
I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves – thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.
* Gloria Steinem