This Is It
I'm cleaning off the feed marker board in our barn. The writing from last year is running down, mixed with cleaner, and I struggle to keep my eyes from doing the same thing.
My eighteen year old daughter was 8 years old when she got her first livestock project: a heifer named "Magic Sis" that her Pa-Pa bought for her. I was skeptical; I didn't think she would care much for all of this. The grooming, the cleaning, the HARD WORK...
I was wrong. Almost ten years later, and this isn't a hobby to us. This is our way of life. This showing stuff is in her bones - it's in all of us. My husband married a "concrete" girl (his words) and her two kids, and he introduced us to this completely different way of life. It felt so unnatural at first, and I watched my prissy little blonde haired girl shoveling cow manure with complete and total skepticism.
Now, here we are tonight, loading the barn with her LAST livestock showing projects. I fight tears as I clean the slate for this year's feed schedule because I know it's her last shot. This is it.
This has never been about winning or losing. We've won some and we've lost some - this thing runs deeper than that. If ten years in this has taught me anything, it's that this is really about all the lessons along the way. I've learned as many as, if not more than, my three kids have.
We have a lot of years left to go with our other two children, but I think about this last year for my oldest and I think about almost a decade of her pouring into this. I remember all the tears, the rope burns, the ribbons, the show camps, the disappointments, the victories, and most of all the hours and hours of time together in this barn. It's never been just about winning, but this year I want winning for her more than I can even explain. This year I want to see all these years pay off big for her. This year I only want to see tears of joy in her eyes, because this year is our last shot. There is no "here's how we'll do it different next year." There is no "better luck next year." This is it. And, we are going to do everything in our power to send her off into the world with THE BEST memories of her last year in the barn.