10.03.2010

Something Good for Something Better

How do you define yourself? Wife? Husband? Friend? Boss? Daughter? For each of us, there are many titles that help explain who we are. And the way we see ourselves isn't always how others see us. Right?

If you asked Lexi who I was, she'd quickly say, "Momma!" When she sees me, she sees her mom, her comforter, the one who knows if she wants the crusts on or off and can tell her in a nanosecond the obscure place she left her baby so she can sleep soundly at night.

When I think of who I am, the first thought is Mother. But, I'm also a business woman, a daughter, a wife, a friend, an athlete and a horsewoman. Equine enthusiast. Competitor. Horse trainer. Lover of all things horse related.When I'm working in the barn or riding or giving a lesson, I'm in my element. I'm home. It's like putting on your most comfortable pair of sweats. It just feels right.

Me and Moonie
I really can't remember too many times in my life when my daily activities weren't centered around my horsey duties. I'd feed, groom, takes lessons at least once a week (usually way more often than that), haul out for conditioning rides with my mom, haul to shows and 25 mile endurance rides almost weekly, ride to my friends' houses, ride to school, ride after school, ride, ride, ride, and ride.

That's me on Astarti, second from the right.
I lived and breathed horses. What would you have found under the Christmas tree with my name on it? Not shoes or jeans or Cds. No way! I asked for halters and saddles and grooming tools or bell boots.

The love of my horsey life: Kariston. Here we are on a 25 miler.

Most of my friends were the girls who took lessons at the same facility. We fought like sisters but were nearly inseparable. Their parents all had a hand in raising me and carting me and my horse around to the local shows and to lessons.

While I was in college, I let horses take a backseat to my social life and education. That lasted about a year. During one of my summer breaks, I rode for a local trainer. When I got back to school, I was miserable. The next summer, I got a job wrangling and outfitting. Those were some of the best days of my life. The smell of the forest, horses, long days, lots of sweat and lots more laughter.

Here I am in the White River National Forest on Dally. I'm leading 6 mules. We were packing an elk and camp I helped to break that same day.

After my days outfitting, I worked full time for a cutting trainer. I worked 12 and 14 hour days, 6 days a week. I stunk like horse sweat and manure. I had no social life. I had no money. But, I was so happy. I was doing what I loved and getting paid! I worked for an incredible man with a great family. Working for John paved the way for me to start my own successful training business.

One of my client horses, Legend.
I started training other people's horses because I found that motherhood didn't give me a whole lot of time to ride. But, if I was getting paid to ride, I could afford a babysitter. I worked part time, from home. I found an awesome woman who watched Lexi at my house. I made a great friend in the process. Much to my surprise, not only would people pay me to ride, but I had a waiting list. I met most of my friends through my business. The best of both worlds if you ask me: Mom and horse trainer.

Me and Lexi on Holly
Then, we added to our family. Our spunky Addie. I found it harder and harder to straddle both worlds. When I was giving my clients all they needed, I was ignoring my family. When I gave my family all they needed, I was short changing my clients. I felt torn. When I was riding, I was thinking about my kids. As I would play dolls with my girls, I would stare wistfully out of my family room window at my horse.

I had to make a really tough choice. Do I put riding on the back burner and focus on my kids or do I try and make it all work? Can I make it all work? At what cost? While the answer wasn't necessarily the one I wanted, it was crystal clear what I needed to make my priority. I haven't ridden in two years. Man, do I miss it. Recently, I had the chance to be in the barn, just feeding and raking and I got a little sad. I miss the familiarity with which I move from one task to the next. How I can, almost without a conscious thought, halter, groom, saddle and bridle a horse in minutes. I miss the smell of shavings and the barn and even the horse crap. Yeah. Us horse people are so depraved, we like the smell of horse crap. (oh come on, horse people, you know it's true).

But, there's always another horse. There's no other Lexi or Addie or Emily on this planet. No amount of saddle time could make up for me missing out on watching them grow. Teaching someone to keep their heels down pales in comparison to importance of teaching my kids how to love, share, and serve. When they are grown and gone, I'll have all the time in the world to be in the barn. For now, I'm certain I have given up something good for something so much better.

7 comments:

rl_riddle said...

Good read, Traci. You are on the right 'path'! And, looking back you'll most likely agree the time with kids went 'quickly'. You will have plenty of time on 'the other end'! :)

Harding Family said...

What a nice post Traci! I struggle sometimes with the questions of "Who am I" other than a mom and wife. But I think it is the world telling me to think that... What more important thing could I be doing than those two vital roles. They have become so unglamorized it is easy to feel like you have settled. But I know I haven't and I am glad for your post! We will miss your sweet Lexi when you guys leave! Jaxon just loves her!

Silcox Stories said...

No doubt you gave up something good for something better. I remember saying to Jeremy one night, if I never dance again it will have been more than worth it. And like you I miss it terribly, but it was and forever will be the best decision for our family.

Kellie said...

Very well said.

Amy Buff said...

Beautiful expression of self Traci. I find myself prepping for similar experiences and thoughts of how the future will develop and also reflecting on life and how the choices I've made have affected me. This makes me want to stay up late talking with you. Loves.

Momza said...

I had the privilege of having a horse when I was a kid.
We lived out in the country, and summer days always included saddling up, sack lunches, and days down at the swimming hole with all of my brothers and all of our friends.
I wish I could give that kinda lifestyle to my yahoos.
Horses calm me like nothing else.
I miss those days. Thanks for sharing!

Cynthia said...

I can so relate to this post. Except for me it isn't horses- it's plants and designing gorgeous landscapes. It's being known for something beyond just Motherhood and having my own set of life goals that are uniquely mine and NOT owned by Them. But they are everything.

I'm a little further down the Motherhood path than you. Mine are now ALL in school full-time which means I get to have some pieces of my life back. It's actually harder to pick up those pieces (and choose which ones) than you'd think. Still, I don't regret the decade where all I did and gave was for them. You won't either. I promise. And I promise there will be more time for you than you realize and it will come so much faster than you're really ready.

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What started as a way to communicate with far away friends and family has become a place for this horse trainer/HR manager turned stay at home mom of 3 girls to hold on to a bit of her own identity. It's my take on the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the thoughts and feelings, the mistakes and triumphs of this family as we bumble our way to eternity.