For those who don’t know, in 2015 we sold our home in the city along with much of what we owned to move into our travel trailer, flip some houses, and eventually fulfill a dream of finding a home with some acreage in the country. In the meantime, we lived on a plot of mostly uncultivated family land in our travel trailer. For a long time Cowboy and I lived in different cities during the week and took turns driving to see each other on the weekend. It was a rough season but we knew it was temporary and it helped propel us toward the goal we had.
It was before heading into town for our weekend to go see Cowboy that I sat down in the middle of a muddy camper and furiously tapped this out on my phone. Today I found it again and thought back on our journey and added a few thoughts at the end. Enjoy!
It’s raining. It’s raining and today is the day I pack three kids and two dogs up for the weekend trip to town to see Cowboy. First I need to take care of chickens, finish laundry, make sure I don’t leave old food in the fridge, and feed my sourdough starter.
I let the dogs out to run earlier and they still aren’t back yet, which is unusual. Our city dogs are not chicken trained yet (ie, they still try to eat them) so I can’t let the chickens out until the dogs are put away. But I really need to get started on the chicken coop since I’ve finished almost everything else on my list by now.
I finally decide to just start cleaning the chicken coop without letting the chickens out yet, which is tricky, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and I’m ready to get on the road so I pull on my boots quick and go outside and get started.
I’m soaked – it looked like it was only sprinkling when I started but looks can be deceiving – and I’m just about finished when I see her: Buttercup. The queen chicken, proudly strutting around OUTSIDE the coop while everyone else still stuck inside the coop hollers at her in obvious outrage. I look up and, queue Mommy swear word (the fluffy, friendly-sounding alternatives we have a special talent for conceiving on the spot) – I left the door on top the coop open! And I still haven’t found the dogs. This could get dicey.
I close the coop door, enlist the kids to look for the dogs, and pray Buttercup doesn’t die. For twenty minutes we try to corral Buttercup and get her back to safety. If only there was a way to convey to a chicken that you’re trying to save its life. There’s still no sign of dogs so we are still okay.
Until we aren’t. All of the sudden, they come running up, big happy grins on their faces after their morning doing who-knows-what in the woods. A wild frenzy ensues. Not because the dogs see Buttercup but because we are frantically trying to distract them so they don’t. We all call the dogs and run toward the camper to try to get them inside before they see Buttercup. The kids are so cute in their various states of dress, bare legs and cowboy boots, and they run around excitedly waving their arms and yelling (I’ve taught them well).
It’s at this point I suddenly remember what I’m wearing. We’ll call them sleep shorts, though that’s generous, and I never, ever intended to ever be seen in by anyone but Cowboy, the kids, and livestock. As I run through the mud trying to corral the dogs, I suddenly feel very exposed and several thoughts run through my head:
Oh God, I can feel my butt flapping in the wind (I was talking to God, not using His name in vain, because it’s good to involve Him in all things).
I probably need to start running more than just after animals.
Lord, please don’t let the Mennonites pull up now. Last time they came I was in my swimsuit. I’m not ready to see them again yet. I may never be ready.
Chicken, don’t die.
Finally, after what felt like an Olympic sprint we got the dogs into the travel trailer. This lack of foresight all around is not one of my smartest moments in life. In the frenzy, the camper (ie, our home) was the closest thing I could think of to contain the dogs and as soon as the door closes with them inside, I heave a sigh of relief and have a little internal victory celebration.
I am not a chicken mom failure. Not. Today! Fist pump. I feel like Wonder Woman, for just a second.
And then I step inside and realize what I’ve done.
“Close the bedroom doors!” I shriek in a voice that sounds several octaves higher than the one I’m used to hearing come out of my mouth.
At this point that’s all we can do because every surface in the living room area is covered in muddy paw prints. I’m lamenting that I had just cleaned inside when the smell hits me. Wait… It’s not just mud. There is a distinct poop smell permeating the air inside, too.
I stand here with sweat and water running down my face and look at the three kids and two muddy dogs staring up at me and choke on a little sob.
It’s not a big deal. It’s not a big deal. Not a big deal. Because in the grand scheme, it’s not. Only, right now, to me it is a very big deal and I’m having trouble keeping perspective.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was my Trader Joe’s Potato Chips (the ones cooked in olive oil) getting crushed.
That is when I sat down in the mud or mud-poo or whatever it was and contemplated life and whether or not I would feel better if I burst into tears. I should have planned better. I should have remembered to close the top door while I cleaned the coop. I should have found another way to contain the dogs. I should have put on pants.
Now that I look back on this and other times, I see that “should haves” in moments of frustration don’t help me or anyone else. I want to find someone to blame (and it’s usually me) but the fact is, life happens. People make mistakes. What you do with a mistake or a misstep is more important than where to place the blame. Not to say there isn’t wisdom in looking at a situation and asking why it happened it hopes of avoiding it in the future, because that just seems smart. But in the midst of frustration, pointing a finger, even at oneself, isn’t helpful.
What is helpful: if you have to choose between laughing and crying, do your best to laugh. If you can, find someone to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation with you. Truly, some of life’s most stressful moments are a comedy of errors.
Do your best to see the big picture. Is this a big deal in light of eternity? It doesn’t mean it’s not hard or a big deal now but trying to see the bigger picture can help with perspective when everything seems to be going wrong.
Look for the things to be thankful for. In this case, we were all physically fine. The chicken lived. The Mennonites didn’t come. Crushed potato chips are still crispy. And I just happen to have a cleaner that is great for mud and poo – lots of it.