When I was little I don't ever remember dreaming about my wedding or having kids or even a career. That's probably why I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I think I learned early in life that you really never know what tomorrow holds so I just move along trusting God in the now. When we plan God laughs so I try not to do a lot of future living.
When my parents moved me to Arkansas I had no idea what life would be like or what my future would hold. I suppose any small variation of what happened in the past could have changed my future drastically. I'm thankful for the things that have happened because I wouldn't want to be anywhere else today.
The Milkman and I don't have a romantic love story. It would be weird if we did because neither of us are very romantic. I appreciate it when he thinks of me. He may bring me a cotton boll from a determined fuzzy cotton seed that made its way into the ground instead of a cow's lunch. Or he might pick up a piece of rusty farm history that came up out of the dirt and bring it in for me to display on the fireplace. Those things have meaning. Sometimes on a holiday he will convince one of my dearest friends to go get something for me from the store, because Lord knows he isn't leaving the farm to fight traffic or people, and that's OK too. I appreciate the thought more than anything. I, on the other hand, run errands constantly so he ends up with candy and gifts. I also use the magic of the Internet to order things for him. One of these days I'll have him technologically advanced too.
Our love story isn't exciting. It is mostly a girl who chased a boy because she knew, without a doubt, that he was the one God intended for her to marry. We went to church together and like any boy, he didn't know what was good for him. It took a lot of patience and commitment for him to move beyond his stubborn ways. We dated for a couple of years and one day I said, "Alright...you either want to marry me or you don't. Either is fine, but I'm not waiting forever." Lawd, I was 20 and thought I was about to become an old maid I guess. He said, "OK, let's get married." That was the end of November and we got married in February.
That kind of shotgun wedding makes for good rumors in Small Town, USA. I'm not one to be bothered by rumors. Somebody is going to be the topic of conversation, I just gave someone else a break from fame. It also happened fast because back then, there wasn't a Pinterest. We just draped everything in tulle and tied a bow on it. Christmas lights and PVC pipe make a good enough arch. And my daddy, being a preacher, made finding the preacher and the church the easy part. .
The amusing part is that I didn't want a wedding. My parents didn't care if I had a wedding. But The Milkman, he wanted a tux and the whole shebang. Don't tell him I told you. He'll probably deny it. It's the honest truth, though.
You learn a lot when you date and marry a farmer. It's important to know what you're getting into. There will be times in life where you aren't the first priority. You will come after the farm in almost every circumstance. For example, when pregnant with our last Milkmaid, we went to a doctor's appointment and I was officially in labor. I didn't get to stay at the hospital because we had to "run" home and feed the milk cows. I managed to do about 4 loads of laundry while he "got everything ready" for us to go have a baby. I don't doubt my importance to him. I just realize that when it comes down to it, the farm and the animals will always be taken care of. That makes me love him more, the compassion for his charge. I have no doubt that he will drop everything for the important things, and he will always be there for me. Just sometimes it will come after the farm.
Another thing you learn is that you love your farmer according to every vow taken at your wedding, but you will NOT always like him. When you work cows together or he's teaching you something new, there's a good chance that you will walk away NOT liking the person you are married to. You know what, that's normal. It's okay. God doesn't ask us to like everyone, only to love them.
People like to say, "It isn't all roses." but sometimes farming and marriage are exactly all roses. You know what are on rose bushes? Thorns. Farming and marriage are labors of love. Sometimes it smells as good as fresh cut hay and sometimes it smells like the literal crap you put on the crops to grow. There are times when things are going smooth and you're happy as a cow chewing cud. But sometimes you feel like you've fallen into the thorny part of the rosebush. It hurts. It is hard to maneuver. Sometimes you want to cut the whole thing down, but then the roses bloom and everything is just like it's meant to be.
Love is more work than the average person wants to put in. And the work it isn't always appreciated. Marriage is messy, ugly, dirty, and labor intensive. It's hard. A marriage is a true labor of love, just like my farm. Life is full of accepting things that aren't exactly as we planned. That is what a good marriage and a good farm are made of. Love, boundaries, work, acceptance, and messy places. You just keep cleaning up where the cows poop and then use it to fertilize the land. You're marriage (& farm) won't grow or even survive without a lot of care and dedication.
Success looks different to everyone. To me, it looks like a beautiful, hot mess that The Milkman and I are committed to. We've got each other and we've got our farm, and our Milkmaids. We will put everything we have into all of it. Life won't always be roses or presents, sometimes it'll be thorns and cotton bolls. We know what we've gotten ourselves into and we wouldn't change living in our now for anything.
If you want something worth it, something that lasts, you better not be afraid to throw yourself into a rosebush or hesitate to get dirty. That's what it takes. Don't be afraid to roll in the mud and wrestle with a lion. You'll be exhausted, but you will find rest with the person that's as committed to you as you are to them.
February 15, 2017 marks 14 years of marriage. Easy times, hard times, the good, the bad, the ugly. We may not always like each other, but we always love each other and we give everything we have to keep it together. It isn't easy, but it's worth it. Every single day.