I am driving on a cold October morning on Route 8 in Connecticut to my dear friend Virginia Leary’s, a road I've traveled so often. I am thinking about my conversation with my four-year-old daughter at 6 a.m. as I got her dressed to help me get my horses ready for a clinic. She asked me why she could no come with me. I explained that grandma was going to take her to school, and she was too little to sit for the whole clinic. I explained that I needed to learn to be the best trainer I can be, always. I even went into how dressage is a lifelong sport and how we never stop learning. I know, way too much for a four-year-old. I told her I would learn some new skills to come home and share with my students. Emilia was super excited about this. “Great mama let's make sure Imbe is ready so you can go, and then when you get home Fluffy and I will be ready for you to teach us your new skills.”
As I drive, I glance at the radio. It's playing a song about meeting in the middle. The song is clearly about a couple; however, to me the words “meet me in the middle” have a bit of a different meaning. As I turn the radio up and start to sing along with the song, I think about the struggle of finding balance between being a mom and being a trainer. Being a trainer is tough. Being a mom is tough. Being a trainer and a mom is really, really freaking hard! Sometimes I really miss life before I owned and operated a 15-stall farm, ran multiple Pony Club programs and a full training program, all while raising my daughter. The days I took for granted. I look at some of my peers and think, oh my they don't have this and that to juggle, they just have their business. That was me. That was how I was able to build what I have now – hard work, but severe focus. I used to put so many miles on my truck traveling all over for clinics and schoolings. I drove three and a half hours, three days a week with my young horse to ride a more experienced one, because someone was willing to let me ride and compete that horse. I was given that opportunity, so I took it. Because I could. I had a farm yes, I had a husband yes, but he traveled often so I could go at my leisure and be with my horses, work on my education, my riding. I recently saw a fellow trainer post on Facebook asking, “where are the auditors at the clinics? Why are people not attending to learn?” I attended everything always.
So, where am I? Why am I not attending those clinics? I am at my daughter's preschool pick up getting cursed at by all the other moms because I waltzed in with my muck boots on again, forgetting that I smell like a farm, with shavings in my hair and horse crap all over my boots. It's impossible to get Emilia from school and attend every clinic. I can't get to the other side of Massachusetts, attend a clinic, and get back by 12:30. That's impossible. In the summer I take her everywhere. At one point she only thought the highway went to the NEDA horse show or to a clinic. Literally, she would ask me, when we went south on 91, “are we going to the NEDA horse show?”
When I get all the stars to align and I get off the farm alone, I feel naked and free. But I also feel guilty, sad, and lonely all at once. I am thankful for all that help me attend such things, and I look back at my old self and wish that Heather realized how hard the future would be, but oh how glorious it is. I am still working just as hard, with just as much focus, maybe just on different things.