Monday, 22 June 2015

The many ways to be A Farmers Wife!

I started the day cooking our youngest daughter a hot breakfast. This doesn't happen on many school mornings. I guess we could call it bribery, as she is having trouble getting up and catching the early school bus this week. The smell of bacon, eggs and hash browns helped! It was a very cold winters morning, only 4 degrees, as the children climbed the big steps into the bus. There was excitement in the air, with only a week to go until holidays.

On returning to the kitchen I washed the dishes and decided to give the floor a quick sweep. I joked and asked Howard where 'his' broom was. His reaction was a surprise, 'Its not my broom, its your broom!' he stated. It left me wondering at what stage during our 23 yrs of marriage did the broom become mine!

The fantastic book 'Lean In' by Sheryl Sandberg is probably what triggered the discussion over broom ownership! I have thoroughly enjoyed Sheryls very well written and powerful book for women who would like to enjoy a successful career of their own. As Howard and I are raising 4 well educated young women this topic is very important to us.

"I don't know of one woman in a leadership position whose life partner is not fully - and I mean fully - supportive of her career."Sheryl explains, "Many of these CEO's said they 'could not have succeeded without the support of their husbands, helping with the children, the household chores, and showing a willingness to move.'"

I wonder who the girls will marry and how they will maintain their own careers. Personally I have tried every option. Part time work with little children, full time work with child care, full time at home and full time working in the farm business. Life has ebbed and flowed depending on the children's ages and stages, our financial needs and our personal goals.

As far as the housework and living with a busy farming husband, Howard is fair. He is willing to do the grocery shop regularly, clean the kitchen, throw a load of washing on or make the bed but I have to admit we look at these jobs like he is doing me a favour.

When it comes to my career, it has definitely taken second fiddle to the farm. That was a choice we made because most of our income comes from the farm, so it had to be the priority - we thought. During sowing, harvest, shearing, hay making and stock work times, there is no question that Howard remains focused on his career and the family needs to adjust accordingly.

The problem I am seeing is that establishing my own career is going to take a huge effort. I have tried over the years but we find the best place for me is in a supportive farmers wife role. This is the best place for the business but not necessarily the best place for me and my own career aspirations.

I don't want to own the broom anymore!

So here I go again, back in business ( but this time it feels very different. Howard and I have had very productive conversations about how to support each other. He is very willing to get more involved in parenting with me and juggling everything that is involved in our families needs. It doesn't feel like the farm is a more important activity anymore, just because it is making most of the money. It is starting to feel like we are working as a team and everyones needs and goals matter.

Creating mindful work and home environments is possible for both men and women, even in farming...especially in farming. Look where we all live!! It is so spacious, peaceful, beautiful and relaxing. We just need to find the balance, enjoy the details, support each other and find new ways to have farming relationships that are fair and enjoyable.

How about we share the broom!

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