When Your Child Doesn’t Ride …

My son, my saint of a pony and me on a warm spring day last year. Photo by my ever patient husband Tim Wadley.

“It’s time to go pony shopping!”

I can’t tell you how many times I heard those words, or some variation of them, when I was pregnant with my son. And whether I ever really admitted it out loud or not, I SO wanted that to be the case. A part of me really did want to go pony shopping. A part of me really hoped we would. But (there’s always got to be a “but”) … another bigger part of me always suspected there might not be a pony. And I had to be okay with that.

When you’ve had a lifelong romance with horses, as I have had, or you love the smell of horse poop, as I do, or you are lucky enough to be a horse professional, I think you always hope your children (if you are blessed to have them) will ride. I did. Of course I did. I think most people hope their kids will love the things that they love. I love horses, so ….

My husband and I were late to the having kids game. We got married in our 30s and once we decided we were ready, well, it just did not work out the way we wanted. By the time I hit 40, and after trying for quite awhile, we came to the conclusion that we were probably not ever gonna have children. Long story short, I quite unexpectedly found myself pregnant at 43! I literally had friends with children in high school and college, so I had watched the ones with daughters that rode, compete and do the horse thing together. Watching them cheer each other on and the camaraderie they shared was touching and infectious. I wanted that too, so there was part of me that hoped for a horse girl. The rest of me was just so thrilled to be pregnant that I really was just thrilled to be pregnant.

If you noticed the photo accompanying this blog, you have probably already figured out what gender my baby was. “Boy mom” became the order of the day, and my husband and I were over the moon. We were blessed with a healthy, intelligent, handsome, rowdy, too smart for his own good, all boy, son. He is the greatest joy and blessing and gift of my life. So what about that pony? Well … Nate will be eight in July, and so far, no pony.

But here’s the thing: It’s OK. Do I wish he wanted to ride? Sure! Sometimes. And while he does on occasion (RARE occasion) decide he wants to hop on my trusty steed Syd and take a couple of laps around the arena, for the most part, he would MUCH rather be catching lizards and snakes or riding bicycles with his friends. And I’m OK with that. Really!

Nate doing what he loves: catching critters. Photo by Tim Wadley.

Because here’s the thing: I LOVE being a boy mom. I DO! I’m good at it. I grew up a tomboy. I mean, c’mon! I was a nerdy barn rat who was addicted to horses, and I had one Barbie whose sole purpose was to ride my Breyer horses. I love catching crawdads and hiking through the woods and cheering my son Nate on at his martial arts tournaments. I love superheroes and science fiction and action flicks (all things we enjoy together) and Nate loves to help me cook. I’m an eventer. I’m good with getting muddy and rolling with the punches, which is the order of the day with boys.

Do I miss having a child that rides with me? Sometimes. Do I miss having a child who competes with me? Sometimes. But here’s the thing: I HAVE always and WILL always want Nate to be Nate. I want him to find the thing in his heart that HE is passionate about, NOT what I want him to love. If he loves horses, well, FABULOUS! We’ll go get that pony! But if he loves Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or soccer or reptiles or cars or math (well, maybe not math) whatever it is, I want it to be HIS. And I will support him in that one million percent.

And you know what? He supports me! He loves to go to horse shows so he can cheer me on from the sidelines. He wears my cross country colors (lime green!) and just hearing that little voice screaming “Go Mama!” from the arena fence is enough to make me feel like I could tackle Kentucky! Regardless, he supports me and I support him. And let’s be real. Sometimes, it’s good to have your own thing. Because sometimes, as a mom, I NEED my barn time to decompress, so that I can be the supportive, loving mom I need to be. ESPECIALLY when there’s a snake (“Look Mama! Isn’t he cool?!”) in my kitchen.

Stay safe everyone! Hang in there!

Go eventing!

Nate and I at a mother/son dance at his school. Photo by another boy mom who was kind enough to take this photo.