I am on a group messenger feed with about a dozen other mothers that live in the nearby town. A few – like me – work during the day, but most are stay-at-home moms. The messages are usually invites to join someone at the park or reminders of story time or another kid-friendly activity taking place that day.
I often don’t respond. It’s not that I don’t want to join them, but that I simply can’t. I’m either at work, meaning I’m mile away at a meeting, or I’m home with the boys and therefore a 20-minute drive into town on top of getting the boys ready and piled into the car – so make that 45 minutes out given the sloth-like pace my 4-year-old choses to move in these situations.
But the messages do more than send a small ping of mommy-guilt through me, they remind me of a group of girls I don’t get to see all that often because I married a farmer and therefore live a life much different than theirs.
There is a lot about farm life that differs from city dwelling – the obvious aspects of space, noise, fresh air and proximity to, well, everything. But the acres of open spaces and miles of farmland can sometimes be overwhelming and well, lonely.
My husband works a lot. And by a lot I mean pretty much everyday of the week – well beyond the normal 8-5. The spring is our busiest time of year – planting corn and soybeans, vaccinating and moving cows and calves to grass and watching over a maturing wheat crop. Family dinners are few and far between and many nights my husband isn’t home before 10 p.m. The boys don’t have neighbors to run with or a park down the road to escape to, so it’s just the three of us and our space, and sometimes that feels like a pretty small place.
I love my kids and cherish the time I spend with them, but talking about Lightening McQueen with my pre-schooler and playing peek-a-boo with my toddler isn’t exactly adult conversation. And on the days I work from home, I can go 12 hours without adult interaction.
The weekdays are hard but weekends are by far the worst. On Saturdays, when other families are spending time at the zoo or enjoying a lazy morning over pancakes and eggs, my farmer is out the door and I’m left to entertain two little boys for the day. In these times it’s tempting to turn to social media to see what’s going on in the outside world – because well, let’s face it, if your world is anything like mine it’s filled with dirty laundry, stinky diapers and messy kitchen floors. But instead of finding company, I find myself growing envious of the wives who get the joy of husbands each and every weekend and fellow moms who have a partner in crime to fight the dishes and weekend trips to the zoo.
And it’s not just the morning and evenings that cause me to miss my girlfriends. Since neither my husband nor I work in town, I have seen our friendships and connections to people and place unravel as time separates us. It’s not a conscious uncoupling (thanks Gwyneth) but a slow falling apart from different schedules and lifestyles that don’t allow myself or my husband to be part of evening get togethers or random “work” lunches. On the weekends when I am ready to hit the park or take a quick trip out of town, many of my city friends are enjoying family outings and not looking for a third wheel with two little boys.
The loneliness that comes with life on the farm can be overwhelming. As we enter planting season I know the stress that comes with being the only parent most days of the week and trying to juggle work, meals, laundry, yard work and whatever the boys need will be trying. My boys and I won’t see much of my farmer and outside of my work meetings and daycare drop off and pick up stops, I won’t see many friends or familiar faces. Even if an invitation for a get together is extended, I can’t ask my husband to hop off the tractor so I can sip wine with friends.
I knew all of this marrying my farmer and I know I am not along in feeling lonely and frustrated during these trying times. I try, everyday, to see the positive and blessings in this lifestyle – whether that’s a kiss and goodnight hug from my sons or the blissful quietness after everyone has fallen asleep. Farming isn’t a job or a hobby, it’s a lifestyle that encompasses not just the farmer but his family and loved ones. And while some days I struggle to accept this lifestyle and the restraints it places on my time and flexibility, I see the passion in my farmer and the vast and wonderful adventures that await my sons as they grow. It has afforded me many opportunities and made me appreciate those that chose to do the hard, dirty and thankless work.
So for all of you fellow farm wives or mothers with super busy hubbies, I’m with you and understand your frustration and tears. It’s lonely and it’s hard but it’s rewarding and wonderful. And some day the kids will be grown and we’ll be on the other side of it all, secretly missing these days.