I am a planner and my husband is not. But nonetheless, I like life to happen in an orderly
fashion, if I can help it. I prefer to do things myself, and I rarely ask for help. However, March 2015 reminded me that despite my neatly written to-do lists, task alerts on my phone and Excel spreadsheets posted around the house and farm, I am not in charge. And, help is not such a bad thing, after all.
As many of you know, Donald and I were expecting our first child “together” in March. Carson Phillip Bickel was scheduled to arrive on Saturday, March 28th. This panicked my husband because March is one of our busiest months of the year. But I thought, “No problem! I’ll get the March Ohio News to the printer, knock out my duties at the Ohio Holstein Annual Meeting, travel to Mercer Co. with my daughter and her teammates for the State FFA Dairy Judging Contest, have a baby and then arrive at the Spring Dairy Expo with a perfectly-groomed string and a son to show off at ring-side.”
While I was busy making plans, life happened.
Everything went according to schedule, until Carson made his debut into the world. Upon his arrival, we had some complications, which resulted in a month-long stay at Dayton Children’s Hospital in the NICU. This was not on any of my to-do lists and that was the point where my planning on paper was wadded up and thrown out onto the burn pile. Donald and I found ourselves spending 4-plus hours a day traveling to the hospital to see Carson. We would attempt to make the trek in-between morning and evening chores. But soon, we found ourselves dragging into the hospital late at night, after all the chores were done, because we just couldn’t get away from the farm during the day. Did I mention that Don and I took over the family farming operation in March , as well?
At first, we responded to offers of help with, “Thanks, but we’ve got it under control.” And that was so far from the truth. Soon, our responsibilities were piling up, and for the first time, life was overwhelming. I gravitated to my comfort zone and took the girls to Spring Expo, so I could surround myself with work and our “cow family.” It was there, not long after Carson was born, that I realized Donald and I needed help. Not just physical labor, but the emotional and moral support, as well. And it was okay to accept the help and admit that we aren’t as tough as we want everyone to think we are.
I expected my family and church to reach out to us, but what I didn’t expect was the outpouring of support and help that came from our dairy friends. Offers to milk, feed, take care of the girls, cook, clean, say a prayer...they came from all across the State... from
individuals I had never even met. And I was humbled. It was Spring, and I knew everyone was just as busy as we were. Their willingness to share our burdens was a sacrifice for them. If it wasn’t for our neighbors and dairy friends, Donald and I would not have been able to take the time each day to see Carson. If we didn’t have the extra hands, our crops would have been even later getting into the ground, and we would still have cows that needed to be turned out from the cow lot. With every ton of feed that was ground, every load of manure that was spread and every acre of ground that was turned, I was thankful to be a part of the dairy community. We could leave for the hospital, every day, knowing that our responsibilities were being handled by capable hands, and that gave us peace of mind. I learned to not be so controlling, and appreciate the fact that the chores may not be done at the time of day that we would have done them, but the fact that they were completed was far more important.
To say thank you seems to be so inadequate, and most of you would shrug it off as no big
deal. But to Don and I, our friends and family made a huge difference during a very tough time for us. In the future, when one of our “cow family” finds themselves in need of a helping hand, we will be there. Sleeves rolled up, ready to do what we can.
God blessed me with a son who has already taught me such an important lesson in his two months of life. I’m not saying that I’ve completely jumped over the fence to live the life of chaos that my husband seems to thrive in, but I am learning that there are better, more important things I can spend my time on, rather than generating ways to stay organized. Now that Carson is finally home, I’m approaching life as it happens. If you stop in, my lawn probably needs mowed and my garden has noticeable weeds. You’ll have to move a load of laundry off the couch to have a seat and there will be dishes in the sink. My desk is a mess because I’m a bit behind in registering calves and we aren’t eating as many meals “from scratch.” But the important things are taken care of, such as my family and the farm.
And that’s okay, because I’m learning how to keep busy living life, instead of busy planning it.