Yesterday I watched my son ride his bike through the front pasture. He was chasing a cow. At times like these, I’m not sure why I gave him siblings or a dog. We don’t have sidewalks here or else I’m positive he would’ve chosen to ride on that.
I’m glad he didn’t run over the cow. Puzzle, the nice milk cow, is about the only animal on this place who earns her keep. We get almost three gallons of milk from Puzzle on once-a-day (everyday, of course) milking. Even for greedy guts like us, that’s a lot of milkshakes and alfredo sauce. So last night, I called up the dairy across the street to see if they had any bottle calves for sale. They did.
I hung up the phone and yelled for the masses. My kids found a dog collar and leash (actually, they stole one off the calf born last week) and came back home twenty minutes later with a little Jersey bull calf. He’s one week old. Sure, I can’t get a latte where I live, but I can always scrounge up a bottle calf or a moonshiner lickity split. Bonus points if either can stand up.
While my oldest kid peddled after a cow and my younger son took turns walking the new baby calf on a dog leash, Greg and I sat on the porch, and I talked about the sporty convertible I planned to drive one day. Greg swatted a fly.
The car will have leather seats. When I reach for the seat belt buckle, there won’t be any gum wrappers hidden underneath it. There won’t be dog pee on the front right tire. When I open the car door, a bucket of baseballs won’t spill out and I won’t get a ticket for littering for simply wanting to get into my car on a windy day. The tape deck will work.
By then, my kids will have learned not to eat, drink, throw up, or breathe in the car I have to drive. In this universe, my hair won’t be frizzy anymore, and the bank teller won’t be snotty with me. It’ll all be great. I can see it now.
This morning, I had someone tell me that my life was perfect. I appreciated her letting me know. (She hadn’t heard about the goats yet, and for decorum purposes, I decided against sharing any labor and delivery stories.) I’ve got six kids, a farm, and I make my own butter. So obviously.
I know what it feels like to find out everyone else is having a good time while you’re just paying bills and trying to get the kids to brush their teeth and show some respect around here. I know that everyone else is happy because last year I signed up for Facebook and now I have friends.
We’re all reaching, trying to tweak that thing that if we could “just get right” will magically make our lives perfect, or at least….happy. When it’s late and quiet and dark, sometimes we are just thinking about how to hold our marriage together. I think about the perfect formula for happiness all the time, though I’m too theologically snooty to call it that. If I could just lose weight, if I could just control my temper, if I could just remember what I wore yesterday but forget about that thing someone said last month, if I could just be open and vulnerable to the people I love — then everything would be okay. Wouldn’t it?
For tonight, I sit on my porch and stop talking. I watch. It is summer, God’s favorite season, and incidentally, mine as well. There are cows frolicking in my pasture. And little boys too.