Stock Show Mamas
By: Jennifer Shike
Fellow show mamas, our job is not for the faint of heart. It takes a thick skin, superwoman strength, and lots and lots of patience. Before I had kids, I thought I knew what showing livestock as a family would look like. You know what I’m talking about…like the pictures we all post to Facebook. Kids smiling and getting along. Rock star pigs taking home all the banners. Everyone working real hard together. Smiling parents who always agree. Family bonding at its finest.
But, this weekend, as we loaded up for another jackpot show at 5 a.m., the stars aligned (or did the kids just drive me over the edge?!). Although I had planned to share my secrets of how to pack more effectively for the show, I suddenly felt led to share a different message instead.
From one mom to another, its simply hard some days. Pigs get sick. Kids fight. Dads yell. Belts get left at home. Kids cross over in front of the judge. Moms yell. Big things, little things. They all add up to be a lot at times. So what would happen if we mamas took a few minutes to prepare ourselves better for show day? Because if mom’s not feeling it, no one’s feeling it.
Get rested up. OK, OK. I know this is likely an impossible dream, but really, we need more sleep. We burn the candle at both ends to be able to get everything done so we can head off to the show. Oftentimes by show day, I’m a hot mess just going through the motions. Research proves that a good night’s sleep makes you able to tackle the day’s stresses more easily. When you are tired, you are less patient and more easily agitated, which can increase stress. We have enough of that already at the show, so let’s not add to it by heading to the show overly tired.
Prepare your heart. Before the busyness of the day sets in, find a few minutes to prepare your heart. Even if the only place that you can find a bit of quiet is in the bathroom, do it! Give yourself one minute to clear your mind, focusing in on what really matters. What do I want my kids to learn today? What do I hope they will gain from this experience? We all want our kids to win. We’d be lying if we say we don’t. However, as parents, it’s our job to help prepare them for the real world. And in the real world, you don’t win all the time. There is no better training ground than a livestock show to help our kids learn these lessons. I have to check myself that I don’t get so caught up in the show that I lose sight of the larger purpose of why we invest so much time into this project.
Admit when you are wrong. We will make mistakes. And show day is no different than any other day. Be ready to admit when you are wrong. I’ve found that when I’m willing to lead my children with an apologetic heart, they reciprocate. When I point fingers and blame, they follow suit. Show day provides a lot of scenarios where you may be able to admit when you are wrong and help your children learn a very important lesson along the way.
Be on the lookout for other moms in need. Fight the urge to be self-absorbed on show day. Ladies, we need to watch out for each other! Look for the mom who needs a smile because she’s overwhelmed or the mom whose 2-year-old is having a meltdown. It’s amazing what a bit of kindness can do in someone’s life. There’s a pretty awesome mom from Illinois that rocks this concept. As I pushed my cranky, sleep-deprived toddler around the fairgrounds at the show trying to lull her to sleep, she stopped me to say hello and ask how I was really doing. I don’t remember every word of our conversation, but I know that it reminded me I wasn’t alone in this show mama thing. I don’t know about you, but when I’m looking out for others’ needs, I spend less time worrying about my own problems.
Extend grace. Some days it will seem like your pigs, your kids, and your hard work are simply being overlooked. Extend grace to others anyway. Sure, your kid has worked hard. But so has hers. When your friend’s kid wins, congratulate them and share in their joy. When your day comes, you’ll want someone to do the same for your family. And don’t forget, it’s ok to give yourself a little grace at the show, too. You are going to lose your patience at some point. You will likely yell a little. You may even have to take a time-out. Just remember, you’re not alone.
So the next time you’re getting your snack tubs ready for the show and ironing out the last wrinkle in your son’s jeans, remember to stop and prepare yourself, too.
About the Blogger
Jennifer Shike is the Director of Communications and Marketing at the University of Illinois. She resides in Illinois with her husband, Dan, and children, Olivia, Hunter and Harper. Jennifer and her family are very active in the NJSA and can always be found enjoying the company of their stock show friends at pig shows.