Thoughts from the stands!
When the boys were little the sign of independence was, “No mom, I can open that gate,” “Let me drive the pickup,” or “Dad doesn’t feed this way,” were all things I heard. I thought about this as we headed home from the National High School finals rodeo as I saw these boys sound asleep in the back seat.
Remembering how scared I used to be when they’d saddle horses by themselves or crawl on them bareback and do “tricks” in the yard seems so long ago. Now both ride rough stock and the days of jumping off the horse onto the trampoline seem pretty long ago! They wanted me to watch and how proud they were when the tricks went off like planned. Sometimes they didn’t and they didn’t really want me to see them “mess up” but then a quick hug seemed to suffice and they were ready to try again.
Now, when the mess-ups involve missed mark-outs, or smashed hips or broken toes they don’t come to me for those fixer-ups. As a mom sometimes it hurts but I thought while watching one ride this week he’s trying to handle all these things on his own. These aches and pains are part of him and he’s won everyone of them. Hard work, sacrifice, and his own determination have gotten him through some tough things. I want to run to them and hold them and hug them and not have them think hugs from mom are worse than catching the flu. Seeing them succeed, hurt, win, loose, be humbled, all those things they have to do can be a real nail-biter at times. Recalling those first few bareback or bull rides and wanting to look, but not wanting to, but knowing they’d ask if their feet were right and “she was waspy, wasn’t she mom?” and all those questions I knew they’d ask.
Pickup men were in the arena looking out for them and I’ll never forget thinking someday I’d like to hug each one of those guys for being there. Yes, I realize the pickup men aren’t quite the same as a momma’s touch, but I am so grateful they are there. After all, these rough stock kiddos are someone’s babies!
The guys behind the chutes have become extended family not only to the boys, but to us and they speak a language behind the chutes that sometimes this mom doesn’t translate very well. I listen intently on what they are saying and watch their faces when they talk how the horses or bulls buck out.
I long for their smiles and I love the gleam in their eyes when everything just comes together for them. When they miss the mark out or get bucked off I’m disappointed for them. How they do it week after week and do their homework, chores, do all three sports seasons, and find time for their friends is so amazing to me.
The boys have played with broken toes, fingers, hurt ribs, necks and backs. They don’t complain. They show up to sports practice, practicing hard and then working hard when they get home. They may have a football game, wrestling meet or track meet on Friday and then drive all night to a weekend full of rodeos.
This independent streak they have has been called “Danish determination” in our family by some and others call it stubborn. I feel it is what’s keeping them going. They aren’t afraid of hard work, they’ve experienced disappointment, and they’re learning to handle success too. I wish I could take the credit for the men these boys are turning out to be, but I can’t. I’m grateful to them and I’m thankful for them.
This trip to nationals reminded me growing up, being independent, and finding your way is all a part of life. I am so glad that I am in a family where this all takes place. Life with these boys has been so much fun. I only wish their great granddads were around to see them. The sentimental feelings a mom gets when thinking about the generations of cowboys they come from and wishing the older generations could see where they are headed too gets me a little misty. Maybe I was tired, maybe I was peaceful after a break from the ranch, I don’t know.
The uncertainty of life is overpowering when you think about it. The confidence to crawl on, bear down, move your feet, and get help when you need it are learned and I’m so glad the boys have had the arena to help them figure it out. Now, if I could just find out what part of a horse is “waspy” I’d be really grateful! Guess that’s next year’s thing to ponder when heading home from nationals … I hope.