Last summer was our first one living on the farm as a family. We had a four month old, 2 year old, and a haggard, sleepy 30-year old in our house for hours on end while Matt was busting his rear planting corn and fixing irrigation sprinklers with no time to break for meals. As a farm wife, one of my main duties is to cook and deliver lunch and/or dinner for whoever is on the tractor. (No degree required for a position of this stature. Corner office overlooks the dramatic skyline of northeastern New Mexico; satellite radio and deep freeze included in the compensation package.)
Like a normal person, I would grill some cheese for lunch and serve with a bag of Cheetos and call it good. But dinner had to be a production and include things like cream of mushroom soup and meat. So every day at 6:00 pm, here’s what had to be done RIGHT NOW by the one adult in sight, ME:
- Convince toddler to eat dinner
- Nurse baby
- Bathe Trevor in tub
- Bathe Claire in sink
- Thaw meat
- Cook dinner
- Put kids in diapers and pajamas
- Brush tiny teeth, change diapers again
- Place dinner in styrofoam to-go boxes with utensils and napkins
- Fill drinks and find some miracle lid to keep them from sloshing all over the console
- Load kids in the car
- Load dinners and drinks in the car
- Drive down a few miles of bumpy dirt road to deliver meals
- Clean up tea and lemonade from the console
- Look for Chinese takeout place on way home
- Coerce toddler into going to bed
- Nurse baby, put to bed
- Fill wine glass
- Wade through the Megablocks jungle to the recliner
- Pass out (traditional pose, forearm over eyes, legs hanging off edge of chair)
This routine brought up several questions: Where is Taco Bell? How many plastic forks can one family use in a day? Who pokes holes in all the styrofoam cups? What’s the minimum height requirement for leaving kids unattended? Where can I get a pack of Marlboros and a 40?
Although I’m a pretty good multitasker, after a month of this chaos, I drafted my letter of resignation and submitted it to the boss.
Turns out I’m under contract, so I had to figure out what to quit besides the job of farm wife…and it appeared that due to the fact that the children are human and reside on a dirt farm, feeding and bathing them weren’t on the short list. Cooking dinner would have to go.
Nutritionally, this would benefit all involved. Studies show that eating a big dinner causes one to become apple-shaped and couch-potato-y. Studies also show that preparing, packaging, and delivering big dinners with two small children for weeks on end causes one to become an angry alcoholic. Just looking out for the health of our livers here, really.
A declaration of survival was made: There shalt be no cooking past the hour of 3:00 pm in the Bellah Farmhouse unless the father of said children is visibly present, entertaining the little nutheads, and verbally praising the mother of said children for all of her sacrifice and sobriety. Eat your heart out, Pioneer Woman, you and all your little recipes, too.
Since I don’t actually want to get fired from this farm wife gig, I do cook lunch. It usually involves meat, requires utensils, and is large enough for three days of leftovers; in other words, lunch is the new dinner. I still have to pack it up and deliver it twice a day, but it’s the least I can do. The hubs and brother in law work night and day to farm this moon-surface, and they need some nourishment. Plus, I have all morning to cook lunch, no one needs a bath yet, and the coffee is in full effect, so it’s totally doable. Peaceful, even.
All this to say, I learned an important lesson during my initiation to simultaneous newborn/toddler/stayathomemom/farmwife-hood: we can do it all, but we can’t do it all at once. When you’re at your wit’s end, lacking sleep, spousal support, me-time, day care, and a grocery store within 40 miles, something’s gotta give. And it is ok if that’s a home-cooked meal. (See: McDonald’s.)