My husband is a good man. He teaches our kids…all of our kids…how to drive tractors. That may not be a big deal to some but to me it sums up a lot of stuff.
I grew up on a farm but was expected to do more female chores. As a tomboy, that never set well with me. I was much happier outside than in, dirty than clean, loud than quiet. I’ve always pushed against the ‘woman’s work’ role that I felt put in; very much the square peg into the round hole scenario. And in that scenario the peg never really fits, it just gets beaten down.
I used to bug my dad unendingly until he finally would put me on a little old Farmall A and let me drive around the pastures. Other than that, I was never allowed to drive much farm equipment and that has always bugged me. It was not for lack of wanting and asking on my part…it was just how it was with my family. Later in life that mindset ultimately played a part in my decision to leave my family’s farm; I’d never be satisfied if I was relegated to a narrow job description based on my gender.
So, my husband and I left that farm & business and started our own. It’s super small compared to what I was raised on but it’s ours to run how we see fit. And, by design, the kids are a big part of the farm and the chores that come along with it. They handle the livestock, clean the barn, collect the eggs, mow the lawns, weed, clean the house, bake & cook, etc. Our expectations of them are equal whether its our boy or one of the girls. Like today…my husband didn’t hesitate to throw the girls on the tractor and give them a lesson on hauling bark dust. And that, my friends, is pretty freakin’ awesome. Because it gives my girls a certain confidence early in life that will be invaluable to them throughout their lives. It also gives them, and by extension me, validation. It says to us “I recognize your abilities as a person regardless of your gender.” It sets the bar for how the kids should expect to be treated and how they should treat others. I hope it will someday help them decide who they will choose as a partner for their life. My wish for them is that each of them find a person who respects them and who they can respect, a person who they can work side by side with as individuals and as a couple. My wish for them is that they find a partner just like I have.
All that…just from driving a tractor.