Ahhhh the farming family. Kids running around, the mother baking. The father farming. Everyone helping.
Idyllic isn’t it?
It really is.
However it is also hard.
I try not to go to much into this side of it but for the sake of any other farmer’s wives who read my blog, I think it is important to highlight the hard as well as the idyllic-just to let others know they are not alone.
Summer is the busiest time for many farmers. Harvest to get in, hay to make, lamb to take to market.
Likewise Spring is very busy with lambs being born and, in our case, all three children were born shortly before lambing. Having to be up all night with a baby, looking after two others on no sleep and still doing all of the cooking and cleaning is hard.
My parents helped out a lot but it was still difficult in those early days as a family of five just keeping on top of everything and I am not going to lie, some things I didn’t keep on top of.
Like when I emptied out the cupboard under the kitchen sink to tidy it and I found three bottle of washing up liquid and six bottles of bleach. Oops.
We currently live in an age where it is accepted and, in many cases expected that dads take paternity leave, share parenting and all aspects of house work.
I applaud them. It is good to hear of fathers taking an active role in bringing their children up.
The thing is though, some dads don’t.
There are farming families around the world where the men go out to work while the women stay at home looking after the children and home make.
In the farming community, it I not uncommon for women to do all of this and work outside of the farm too. Without any help.
For some it is necessity. If a family don’t live on the farm for example, it is not practical for the children to be at the farm all the time.
For others who may live on site, looking after children is seen by some (including my husband) as women’s work. Something that men shouldn’t have to do and yes, sometimes, if I ask him to have the children, he refers to it as babysitting.
I go to all of the school things myself. Hospital appointments, pregnancy scans, kids parties, shopping-all by myself.
I remember a couple of years ago, having a heated discussion with a woman. I discussed my situation and she just couldn’t believe that things like this happened-purely because her husband shared the parenting and house work and works 9-5.
The truth is that for many women, this is the norm and, rather than be ridiculed, it would really help all of us if it was just accepted.
I think my mum was probably the last generation of woman who gave up work to have children and stay at home with them until they started school.
In the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s, this was the norm.
I knew what Hubster was like when I married him-we already had one child when we tied the knot so it really wasn’t a huge surprise.
I personally relished those early days with my new babies, despite the lack of sleep. I may be being a bit controversial here but even if my husband had wanted to help more with the baby, I am not sure I would have wanted him to.
My husband is an old-school farmer. With all of our children, we have slept in separate rooms until the baby isn’t waking in the night as much. With the older two, we had the luxury of a spare room for me to reside in with the baby. Unfortunately with number three, I slept on the sofa with him in his Moses basket next to me for the first four months.
The age-old adage of ‘there’s no point us both being tired’ may grate on many new parents but in our case, to operate heavy machinery on little to no sleep may well end in disaster.
My role at the moment is to look after the children, to cook meals, do farm paper work, help out at busy periods on the farm and generally be here. It is the reason I gave up paid work and, when I think of the hours I used to spend sitting in traffic jams, I’d rather do this any day.
I’m not saying I accept it joyfully every day. Parenting is hard and there are times when I think going driving a tractor all day would be much easier than looking after three children.
I think it may be more of a farming thing so people from a non-farming background may recoil in horror at the way we live our life.
I have felt as if I need to make excuses for my husband and our lifestyle but I won’t.
While Hubster may not work 9-5, if he is not busy, he has the small ones while I do the school run. We eat most meals together and, the kids get to see him in the farm yard when he is there. Granted they want to get out there and play with him but someone working in an office would not be able to see their children as much as my husband does.
We are fulfilling traditional roles in a modern world and we are not in the majority. We are however supporting farmers and helping out on the farm which, in turn, is feeding people and for that we should all be proud.
As with all things, there is good and bad points but to all the other farmers wives in the same position as me, you are not alone and you are doing a great job.