The past week has been a mud-clogged boot of going going going. The oldest wild pony is experiencing her first year on the school equestrian team and it, in a nutshell, has not been what she dreamed it would be. She's no stranger to the ugly side of working with horses - the constant shoveling, the upkeep, the care and need for total awareness - but the human-to-human part of this has not been the encouraging, supportive experience she imagined...WE imagined.
I'm no stranger to hauling a loaded trailer but hauling a loaded trailer with darn near a ton of shifting weight IS new to me and I'm happy to say I've managed it pretty well. That part has been the least of it. It's exhausting nonetheless.
For those who own horses, who live, eat, breathe, and function smoothly with horses and all the related chores as part of their daily lives, this whole experience would just be another day at the farm. For those of us who do not own horses nor one speck of functional tack to compete properly, this is a total temporary change of lifestyle.
We spent the three days of this past weekend at the pony's first meet and there were some pretty heavy challenges we had to face head on. Not only the logistics of trailering back and forth each night, cleaning stalls, tacking up, untacking to retack for a different event, getting to the events on time, getting the horse to go in the gate before the 30 second time ran out (failed to make it in the gate in time at the one event pony was most excited about), getting food in the belly for pete's sake. But also weathering the emotions that ran hot in certain veins and I got a crash course in understanding that this whole experience of being the parent of an equestrian team member is not for the faint of heart.
I could write a hundred and twelve page novel about it.
The first twelve pages would be filled with the hard parts and what I am learning about myself. I am learning that I need to let go of the idea that everyone has my kids' best interest at heart. I need to let go of the idea that everyone wants to be on the same page. I need to let go of the idea that adults don't flat out lie and rally a group of willing ears around to hear the tale for what reason is beyond me. I need to let go of the idea that integrity is the driving force of everyone. I need to let go of the idea that everyone knows the difference between constructive guidance and condescending criticism and that some people actually choose the latter for some baffling reason. I also am learning that it's hard, very very hard, to hold my mother-lion tongue and that sometimes I just need to let. it. go. When it's in the walls of your own ranks?....well. anyway.
The remaining hundred pages - the part I would keep close to my heart - would be filled with my awe and gratitude for the guileless generosity of the salt of the earth people who have seen a strength, a potential, in my pony and who have given so much of their time and resources to help her flourish in her dream of being a skilled horsewoman. Pony trades stall and barn chores for the use of one horse from a friend and another woman who happened to be the one behind pony when she was rolled on by this horse on a trail ride and was so impressed with how she handled it has, without request for compensation of any kind, lent pony her patterned, winning horse to use for gaming. Our next door neighbor - a single woman with a few loose end chores around her place - is trading us the use of her wonderful horse trailer in exchange for a couple of menial handyman tasks and the occasional meal for her to stash in her freezer. My, oh, my, can i handle that with no problem! We are so extremely blessed and grateful for this generosity. We could not have done this without it.
Pony will get home of the bus within the hour and by then I hope to have scrubbed off the slight residue of sadness that has stuck my arm hairs to my skin all day from the hard parts of this weekend. I'll need to fresh and lightweight for her. She'll likely walk in with shoulders a bit slumped, her smile a bit slow to curve up, and a million questions running through her mind. Am I ever going to be good enough. What can I do to make them like me. Can I ever love what I do enough to not care if they like me. Yes. She will ask herself that very grown up question because that's just what she does. That's who she is. I, on the other hand, will have words too big for my mouth that cannot even begin to fully breathe out her beauty, her strength, and her potential but I will sing my battle hymn in her ear as a lullaby so that she can know her strength lies in compassion and courage. I will try and I'll let my arms embrace her to make up the difference of what I cannot say.
(I find it no coincidence that I have been faced with many challenges recently that have put my own writing and teaching to the test. In preparation for my Grafting Happiness ecourse, I've been invited over and over to stand in that place where I remember that happiness is a choice. In spite of everything.
BTW, Grafting Happiness starts next Monday and no matter what chaos you have going on, no matter how much you have on your plate right now, I can promise you that this class will enhance it all because that's what choosing happiness does.)