After being a mother for two years (I totally count gestation. Pregnant people are mothers, too.), I am happy to announce that I have finally fully accepted this situation. My fifteen-month-old daughter is happy about this as well. Actually, I don’t think she really cares what my feelings are about motherhood, as long as the couch snuggles and apple slices keep coming.
When I learned I was going to be a mother, I was absolutely mortified to be pregnant and unmarried. I swore Jim to secrecy and hoped the whole thing would just go away. I cried every day and quit going to church, because I just knew the other believers would physically throw me out of the building if they learned I was pregnant and not married. They would probably frown at me really hard and put a curse on my belly, too.
For the first four months of my pregnancy, I puked up water and had to lay down and rest after I took a shower. Allie invited me to go brand with her, but I told her I didn’t feel well or had to work on an article. The Rhoadses asked me to day work for them, but I said I didn’t have time. My mom called and I talked about the weather.
When the secret was finally out, I blushed when people said “Congratulations.” As my morning sickness faded, my confidence lifted, and I showed off my growing baby bump in cute dresses and t-shirts.
Then the fall works commenced, and I resented that Jim got to cowboy all day, while me and unborn baby Grace had to stay home and be safe. Being pregnant was boring and stupid and I didn’t want to to do it anymore.
When Grace was born in December, I cried every day for three weeks. It was a combination of the baby blues, short winter days, and the worst cold snap in Nevada history. I was stuck in the house all day with the baby, a foreign little creature who made constant demands and offered no positive feedback or thanks when my clumsy new-mommy hands tried to give a bath or fill a tummy.
The sadness gradually lifted, and by branding season of last year I was able to cook and rope. I stood at the window and watched the cattle come in to the corrals by the house, waiting for Grace to wake up so I could carry her, her car seat, her diaper bag, a blanket, and a baby carrier out to the corrals to help.
Once I was out there, I didn’t know what to do. Should I hold her? Should I set her down? Am I holding her too much? Am I neglecting her? I kind of want to rope. Will she get fussy and no one else can calm her down while I’m roping? Am I paying too much attention to her and not enough to helping the ground crew? Do I seem lazy? Is Grace hungry? Why do the other ranch moms make this look easy?
I finally decided, Hell, I’m not on the payroll. What are they going to do, cut my day wages that I’m not making if I decide to stand by the fire and hold my baby? So I usually roped one set, helped on the ground if Grace was happy in her car seat, then held her and took pictures of my husband roping.
This was my standard uniform during brandings: dressed and ready to work, but with a chunky baby strapped to my chest for several hours in a Moby.
I went with Jim to rope and load five calves that were missed after weaning last fall and we took Grace with us. She woke up in the pickup and cried and screamed until her face turned blotchy red while I was leading a calf into the trailer ahorseback. My maternal instincts said “F you” to my cowboy side, and I didn’t care if I stranded my rope, the calf got away and my horse ran off, as long as I could pick up my baby immediately.
Now I am totally content to ride my horse in the corral around Grace’s schedule and rope in an arena instead of outside. I’m glad I got to cowboy for a living for a little while, but there are quite a few advantages to being a stay-at-home mom instead of a working cowboy-girl. I’m never far from a glass of water or a snack, and I get to witness all Grace’s little adventures.
“Stick ’em up, Mom, or Ima busta (bottle)cap in your bum bum.”
I adore her scrunchy face.
She only sleeps well when being held or cuddled, so when I’m really tired, I surrender.
No one in the history of humankind has ever regretted napping with a baby.
“Here, Mom, I brought you a rope. The end coils are the best, that’s why I separated them from the rest and put one in each hand.”
Here she is playing fetch with a ranch dog. See the stick in the air? Yep, my girl totally threw it. Isn’t that exciting? I freak out and clap like a madwoman every time.
Did you know that Lady Godiva rode a bay? And wore cloth diapers? And smiled so cutely it made her mama cry?
Now that we’re completely a pair, I’ll still get to cowboy a little bit. I’ll just have a lot more pictures like this.
And that is okay-fine with this mom.