I should have been a cowgirl…01/10/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips
Today is one of those days that just send you down the winding paths of memories. It doesn’t help that I only got maybe 3-4 hours of sleep because of the boys, the fact that I am staying in the room (and have been, coming up on a month now) that my sister and I shared in our teenage years and then again housed me for the beginning months of motherhood when Boyd was a baby, or the emotional state my mind has been in lately but sometimes the reminiscing can be extremely emotional or cathartic…I guess its how you look at it. No…today is one of those days that sends me remembering the years of my youth and I can’t shake them. We started the day off attempting a reading lesson and when the word ‘rod’ was pronounced ‘ram, rat, rag, rock…etc.’, basically everything but ‘rod’…yeah, I sent my kids outside. Maybe that makes me a bad mom but in that moment I totally would have become a worse mom if I just did not let them get some fresh air. For my sanity and their safety…school work was suspended. (I am totally joking about their safety part by the way…don’t want anyone to think I was being serious.) Anyway, this kind of day reminds me of the days my mom would probably have the same experiences with one or more of us kids and would tell us to go outside and pretend we were on the Oregon trail or in the wild west. In my adulthood I now realize more than I did then, that about 75% of the people that were on the trail died and the wild west was filled with dangers…not sure what mom was trying to say…. 🙂
We had a horse…or rather a very large pony. I believe the qualification for a horse is 14 hands…wendy was 13.5 I believe. We all loved her so much. She was the absolute best. Hours would be spent on her and even the babies would ride if an older kiddo was holding on. I can remember one day when mom packed us a lunch and we set out on the Oregon trail…all 6 of us I think from Avery all they way up to me ranging in age from 3-12. We took our wagon and shimmied something together to affix it to the saddle and we set off on our long journey. Other kids got to play the computer version while we had no idea what a computer even was…no joke. My parents only had 4 acres but we were surrounded by a parcel of land…not even sure exactly how many acres it is…that was owned by some people that live in saint Louis who came out and used the property as hunting land and let us pretty much grow up on that land as well. We affectionately grew to call them ‘the hunters’ and there was dismay in our voice every year when ‘the hunters’ would show up because that meant we lost access to our beloved woods and trails and even a couple camping spots. The fearlessness that mom had sending us all out with a horse, a red radio flyer wagon shimmied up to a saddle that I am 100% convinced would not be OSHA approved…a sack lunch, and orders not to return for a couple hours at the minimum is something I admire. I have found that as much as I don’t want to admit it, I am probably a bit of a helicopter mom. I’m getting better, but the idea that something could happen to my kids has played a part into what I allow them to do. I think its easy for us to feel like we are failing our kids at every turn and that plays into how we release them and let them experience things. I am pretty sure that day we had my little sister, Adley, contract yellow fever and die or something…I know we had one of my siblings pretend to die because we ‘buried’ them on the side of the trail…meaning we made them lay down in the tall grass, we would cover them with leaves and then we would leave. It’s a miracle my younger siblings have any love for us older kids at all. We would be gone for hours on days like this…hours. Playing in the woods, fighting off enemies, nursing the sick and dying and riding our horse. There was a back pasture we would take her in and just let her loose…it felt like she was flying. I loved riding…being on her, walking down the road…flying over the ground…I was at peace. Even in my teenage years when the pulls of right and wrong, emotions and hormones were taking over I could take Wendy out and all would be right in the world. She died my freshman year in college, that was a sad, sad day, I don’t think you often forget your first animal love. Many years later when I was at school at Linn State Technical college I would go to a place I looked at as a second home…Turkey Hill Bible ranch. That place was such a joy to be at and I would get to ride…I taught Boyd to ride there as well. He was only two. A friend and I worked with a couple feisty horses…getting them to a place where kids would ride them. Boyd was always our test…if he could ride them at two we knew they were good. A couple years later I took a trip out west to Montana with Boyd…visited a friend but then went on the explore the state myself. I fell in love. I think there has always been a pull, whether or not to feel like I was flying above the ground or an ache for wide open spaces where it was just my horse and I…that pull has been there and was started at a very young age.
Those are the memories that will I get to carry with me in this life. I watch my kids and wonder if its possible to leave them with the same quality of memories I had growing up. I am not saying all my remembering are joyful and warm and fuzzy…but in each one of them, regardless how I felt in that moment, was with people I loved and who loved me.