So being married to a farmer is a beautiful life. But it’s not an easy life. There are really hard seasons on our family. And then followed by seasons for us to replenish. Those seasons give us breath to keep going. And put the flowers in the vases to pick from the rest of the year.
Our first few harvest seasons were super hard on our relationship. And it’s because we would get very used to doing things without each other. Developing our own routines that worked for that moment. And with kids...the mom ends up doing all the mommy jobs and daddy jobs for a period of time. Major respect to single moms...seriously...yall are superheroes!
Add in meal planning, grocery shopping, daily cleaning, school, activities, tumbling, soccer, getting some exercise in, local activities, juggling all the things...but not getting that daily connection with your spouse is tough.
And we would spend the first few weeks after harvest butting heads because we needed to integrate each other back into our worlds. Learn how to be partners again. But I think that friction was there because we spent a lot of time not being intentional to connect well through it.
And as humans, when we feel like the weight on our shoulders is too much, and we really don’t want to do it all alone...we can easily get bitter, be mad at our circumstances, and take it out on our spouse or the person that we feel like should be there to help us.
On the flip side, we can be really competent to manage it all...and when someone comes in with their own rhythms, they mess it all up, implode our systems, and that is frustrating too.
So to overcome this, I remind myself that we are on the same team. And if he could be there, he would. There is no question that we are his priority. And I check myself to be flexible.
And then I think about the things that I do have influence over. The things that I can change. I get really specific about my needs for that season with his absence. Because I’ve got to be able to give my kids a mother that has a cup that is full, and not a mother that is depleted. Especially if I’m going at it alone for awhile!
I’ve got to sail this ship, understanding that everyone has needs, I have needs, and we all need to thrive. So I list them out. And come up with practical solutions that fit within our time/budget/life rhythms. I’ll share with you my needs for this last harvest season to give you an idea of how to do this.
And they were...
Time alone that I can regroup, be social, and make myself a priority. Practically, this looked like going to the gym a few days a week. Monday is moms social hour at the park in our neighborhood. Book club.
Help with normal responsibilities. Practically, this looked like having a house keeper come once a month, or a grandma take the kids for a few hours every once in awhile so I can catch up on house stuff. I got instacart so that grocery shopping could be taken off the list of stress.
Regular connection with mark. So on Sunday nights, we would go to Alamo drafthouse for a movie. Even if we were dog tired. We needed to do things together just him and I.
I needed dinner to be simpler. Because when mark is home, I cook dinner almost every night. He bathes and gets the kids ready for bed while I clean the dinner and kitchen mess. So when he’s not here, I’m not looking to cook an elaborate meal with a million dishes to go and clean after I herded the feral cats through their bed time routines and wrestled my children into bed. So this looked like planning some freezer meals. Double batching a meal that everyone loves and dumping in the freezer. I really needed a few nights off from the kitchen, so paper plates were routine. I know not great...but we are thoughtful about the environment the other 9 months of the year. (We also ate a lot of Banza macaroni with riced cauliflower and sausage)
Connection with God. I know this may seem like a weird thing to plop here. But I’m putting here so that it’s on the list. The original list didn’t have it because it was understood, like breathing, it’s necessary. But for the sake of this blog post, I’m putting it because it’s important. I don’t intentionally set time everyday to read my bible or pray. It’s built into my day organically as I live. I feel connected to God all the time. Like I don’t think that He leaves me and I have to pray and worship and read for Him to come back and hang out with me. 60% of my life is lived with God in the most casual way. Connecting. Praying. Talking. Worshipping. Having relationship. The other 40% is focused. Reading the bible line by line, books, podcasts, meditation, all still forms of connection...just more formal.
Then I think it’s super helpful to acknowledge how hard this season is on your spouse. And ask them what they need and how you can support them. Mark needed a few things that I could do for him. And this was his list.
A packed lunch. So he could still eat healthy out in the middle of nowhere Texas.
Clean work clothes every week. I tried to stay on top of this for him. Didn’t do as good of a job here!
Time to exercise. So he was up at 6 am on Saturdays and Sunday afternoons playing basketball. And if the weather was bad, he would need some time for CrossFit. So I just made sure to give him that time when he needed it.
Sometimes I think we can get frustrated at our spouses or our families in these hard seasons when we haven’t articulated our needs and thought through solutions to get them met in healthy ways.
It’s taken us awhile to get this down, and I wish I would have had this understanding 7 years ago.
Instead I was continually frustrated because I didn’t feel like a priority, but I didn’t understand that I am actually responsible for that. Until I realized that I actually had the power to do that, things didn’t change. Instead I felt powerless to have the life that I wanted. I thought that someone else should make me a priority...yikes! That never works out!
For a long time, my needs were shut down. And it happened when I was really sick with Guillain-Barré. My needs were immense and to be totally transparent here, I felt like such a burden. Nobody made me feel that way. I had a lot of support. My husband and family stepped in big time but there is only so much that anyone can do. Because at the end of the day...I was the one in the wheelchair and I was the only one that could take those steps out of it, and try to get my life back. And my heart ached to do things by myself.
I had always been very independent, go getter, and all of a sudden, I needed help with EVERYTHING. I hated it. I REALLY struggled with it. So much that I would have rather denied my needs than to have someone else do it for me.
And even now years later typing this out for you to read makes me sad. Because I know there are more of you out there. That feel lonely, powerless, and sad or even bitter because you have had unmet needs and you have shut them down too.
I didn’t snap out of this until I had my son. And I realized VERY quickly that my needs really matter. And they really influence the quality of a mother that I am. I think that whole story is another blog post. Maybe titled something about “tired mothers”.
Anyways, if you are in a really hard season...and you’re fighting to keep your head above water.
I want to encourage you that you have the power to change it. That you CAN thrive in your life even when it’s hard. And for you to be able to give fully, you have to be actually full.
And giving good gifts to your family stems from a place of having your needs met...emotionally...physically...
Begin thinking about your personal priorities and values, your needs, and ways to cultivate them into your life.
I’m going to be emailing another exercise on connecting to your needs, so if you have not subscribed...it’s a good