My baby was 5 months old last weekend. He plays and naps while I work full-time, sometimes from home sometimes in my office. My house is a mess, the dishes aren’t done, there’s laundry waiting to be folded (at least it’s clean, right?). I haven’t seen my horse in a week and a half.
I’ve learned that there is no such thing as balancing motherhood, work, and horses. Something always wins out, and something always has to give.
I had great expectations of everything I would still be able to do after becoming a mother last spring. Now I’m laughing in my own face. Here are the top 5 things I’ve learned about what life is really like as a mother of both two-legged and four-legged children.
#1: Riding Once a Week is an Accomplishment
I was so proud of myself when I was back in the saddle 3 weeks after giving birth. I had 3 months of maternity leave, and as I started to adjust to my new life as a mother, I started to ride more. I thought I would be able to ride 2-3 days a week on a regular basis.
Then I went back to work. I’m lucky if I can get a shower and re-heat left overs for dinner between my full-time job and my more-than-full-time baby. The hubby and I are constantly juggling schedules so that one of us is always home with Isaac. This means I’m rarely able to escape to the barn and go for a ride. If I’m not traveling on the weekends to visit family, go to weddings, whatever – I can usually get in a Saturday morning ride.
#2: Pregnancy Destroys Every Riding Muscle You’ve Ever Had
I have never been this out of riding shape in my entire life – even during college when I was out of the saddle for months at a time. Everything is stiff and sore for days after an easy 30 minute ride. Riding one day a week (see above) is not enough to return my abs and inner thighs to their former glory.
This one isn’t so much a surprise (duh pregnancy totally killed any core strength I had) as it is a constant reminder of the craziness my body has endured in the last year.
This may not be the case if you kept riding during pregnancy, but I stopped when I hit the 12th week of pregnancy because I wasn’t comfortable with the risk.
#3: Picking Hooves is More Exciting Than Tying Your Own Shoes
The fact that I can once again bend over comfortably to pick Ace’s hooves still excites me 5 months post partum. Who cares about being able to see my own feet?
#4: Babywearing Around the Barn is Good Exercise
I thought riding my horse would be how I would get myself back into shape after pregnancy and birth. Nope. Strapping my 4-month old to my chest and hauling him around a pasture in the great missing halter search is apparently a much better workout (Ace was missing both halters and his fly mask).
#5: My Horse Will Actually Survive Without Me
He may be a little dirty. His topline may be lacking any semblance of muscling. He may be developing a grass belly (round is a shape!).
And he might actually be enjoying his newfound life of leisure.
While I may not be out 5-6 days a week like I used to be, that board check still goes out every month. The trimmer comes regularly, and the vet comes as needed. The crew at the barn keeps an eye on him, and he suckers treats out of every passerby. He is fed, watered, his stall is cleaned, and he is turned out regularly. His former leasee (who now has her own horse) stops in and picks out his feet for me.
In other words, he’s doing perfectly fine without me.
The real question is, how am I doing with my extremely limited barn time?
I’m OK. I get a little stir crazy, and my legs are always itching to get in the saddle (although bareback is better because it’s so much faster!). My baby won’t be a baby for long, and I’m soaking up every single moment that I can possibly get with him. My horse will still be there in a few years when my babies go off to school or to hang with friends or are tied up in sports or rehearsals and I’m sitting home alone wondering how my kids grew up so darn fast.