Although the strapline for this blog says it’s about the journey of having a child when you’re not a baby person, it’s not often that I specifically write about that. But when my guest writer approached me about writing a post, it seems we were quite similar in not being initially ‘into kids’. And with a background having lived on a farm as well, I had to get Kristen to write a guest post for me.
Life, love, and maternity on the farm
When I was pregnant with my first child (a boy, one of three) I was living with my husband on a couple of acres in the country. We had, though I was never sure why, sheep, chickens, and an occasional duck. It all seemed very charming indeed.
Very charming until I was seven, eight, nine months pregnant and bigger than the ridiculously small (though I was not) house we lived in. I remember attempting to feed the chickens and failing because my belly was too big, in the way as I reached down to scoop. And though I was pregnant and swollen and tired, the work went on. When it was summer I took more popsicle breaks then I could count when I attempted to rake the yard, eventually hosing myself down and continuing my work soaking wet.
There were some advantages though. During lambing season, my husband got more sleep than previous years because he didn’t have to check the ewes. It was my job, as I was already up to pee. Once, after a particularly cold night, a first time mamma sheep gave birth to a little boy lamb that was cold and had trouble breathing. I brought him inside and warmed him with my blow dryer in the sink. I felt responsible for him and, for what I identify as the first time, maternal.
Growing up, I didn’t play with dolls, or, not in the usual way. My Barbie’s were in jail or competing in karate championships mostly. This was never a problem, never something to comment on— until we announced to our family and friends that we were expecting. Suddenly, I was met with an influx of comments about my potential for motherhood.
In the same way that I believe it is inappropriate to comment on a woman’s decision not to have children with anything but support, I have a new understanding and empathy for women who do not display the stereotypical traits we associate with what it is to be a mother. Newly pregnant and stressed about our lives/farm/animals/bank account, the last thing I wanted to hear from anyone was that “it surprised them” that I had willingly entered into a lifelong contract of motherhood.
The conversation is beginning to change, a little bit. As women are choosing lives that encompass parenthood, career, education, and independence, there seems to be less expectation that they fall into a stereotype of what we think it means to be a mother. Similarly, fathers are staying home with children, earning pay that is either equal to or less than (but not higher) than their spouse. Their tender side is being applauded, and less emphasis is being placed on the traditional masculine. Overall, the landscape of families is changing and with it, hopefully, the long list of assumptions that we as mothers find ourselves in constant conflict with.
Holding that lamb, I felt what I identified at the time as maternal. Looking back, I suspect that it was more a basic human empathy, a willingness to help even the weakest survive. He grew up, that lamb, and was eventually sold to another farmer and I can’t say for sure what happened to him, though I have my suspicions. Still, he made it, shivering, through that one night.
Kristen Hurst is a stay at home mother of three who enjoys blogging. She received her bachelor’s degree in fashion marketing, and writes often about Seraphine Nursing Clothes. When she’s not trying to juggle the lives of Casey, Austin and Ben, she enjoys painting and catching up with a great Jane Austen novel.