The sunrise was glorious this morning. I should know. I sat in my recliner, facing east as it rose after an early morning July shower. My sleep filled eyes watched it filter through the blinds of my 9-month-old baby girl’s room, and I sighed and carefully stood with my 20 lb burden. I carefully laid her down, and hopscotched the floor of our old farmhouse. By now, I know exactly where every creak and groan lives in its old floors.

As I softly closed the door, and stood in the hallway, I debated returning to bed and trying to catch a few more winks, or trying to gather the enthusiasm to start my day – again. This internal battle has waged each and every day the last 10 days or so, as my little is fighting off her THIRD ear infection, and this mama is short on sleep. Exhaustion won out, and I returned to bed until the hustle and bustle of life on a ranch filled my ears, and I drug myself out of bed.

A sink full of dishes sits at my right, along with a stack of bills to pay and a birthday card that needs to go in the mail. I don’t even want to look to my left. The trail of destruction left by a fast crawler, and an 8-year-old trying to do her best to help entertain a very clingy baby can only make me dream of vacation, a housekeeper, or a long nap. Instead, I sit at my computer staring aimlessly at social media depicting friends who have the perfect hair and makeup, the snapshots from a fun girls night out, or a beaming family on a terrific summer vacation. And, I will admit its got me down.

I never asked for accolades or awards when I gave up a high paying job to become a SAHM who works where she can on our ranch. Truly, I didn’t realize at first what sacrifices would be made. When our family made a giant leap to raise our family where they could roam freely, we knew it would first mean cutting our yearly income by better than 50%. That has been four years ago. And I am a doer, and a fixer, so that part is managed pretty well. But, staying home and trying to balance taking care of a house, garden, yard, bill paying, and part time ranching/farming…all while towing a 9-month-old and 8-year-old, has been the hardest thing I have ever done. And my mama, who also did it, warned me that there would be days like this. Days like this where I don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t want to change diapers, and breastfeed, and plan, serve, and clean up three meals a day. And clean house, only to have it destroyed, and stare out my window over stacks of dirty dishes and watch the world go by, while I have been left in the dust. I live in a very rural area, where it’s hard to get to town, much less work in any “fun” around nap schedules and the never ending demands of the farm and ranch. And while 95% of the time, I wouldn’t trade anything to give my girls this beautiful life but there are days like this where I question whether any of the sacrifice has been worth it. Mostly because it often feels like I am the only one who is sacrificing.

The sands of time flow so quickly, the rational side of me knows that this time where my girls are little and safe and have a zest for life, and love their mother fully are fleeting. That I will miss this mess, and the noise when they get busy with friends and go to college. That one day they won’t need me so much, and my house can be beautiful and garden free from weeds. That I will again receive invitations to do things with friends and go on dates with my husband. I do know that. But, the cloud of exhaustion is still here. The loneliness and feeling inadequate that I can’t contribute as much as I would like to, still lingers. 

So, I will do my best to embrace my glorious mess. I will pray that my baby starts to sleep through the night – as good sleep is the cure to many troubles. And I will sing…

“So, don’t worry, ’cause
Mama said there’ll be days like this
There’ll be days like this, my mama said
(Mama said, mama said)
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Mama said there’ll be days like this
There’ll be days like this, my mama said
Oh, yeah
(Mama said, mama said)

Don’t worry, yeah, don’t worry, now, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Don’t worry, worry, now, now, now
Don’t you worry”

Lyrics by The Shirelles

Leah Peterson

Leah Peterson is a native Nebraskan, living on the ranch her ancestors homesteaded in 1878. She and her husband Matt, met at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, and returned to the ranch in 2012 after working and living in Central Nebraska the past 12 years. They are parents to two daughters, Maggie and Lucy. Leah has an undergrad degree from UNL in Communication Studies, and a MA in Leadership from Bellevue University. Aside from her work at the ranch and opportunity to be a stay at home mom, she enjoys writing, photography, community involvement, spending time with friends and family and trying new recipes in her kitchen. Leah published her first children's book in 2011 titled "An Apple for Dapple" and enjoys traveling throughout the state to share her book with children and raise awareness about the importance Agriculture in Nebraska.