Some little girls grow up dreaming of being someone's wife. That wasn't me.
To be fair, I also didn't grow up dreaming of being a dairy farmer.
Veterinarian, ballerina, barrel racer, interpreter for the deaf... those were all things I thought I would be when I "grew up." Turns out that I hate studying and homework, look horrible in a leotard, have zero balance and can't shut up long enough with my own thoughts to be responsible for communicating someone else's ideas. There were other careers along the way, but one that never crossed my mind was Wife.
Not dreaming about being a wife doesn't mean that I never wanted to get married, being married has always been something that I knew I wanted. To me being married meant that I had found my partner in life. Hubs and I have been partners for 11 years, he's been my husband for five years now and I guess that means I've been his wife for the same amount of time.
We have never had the traditional balance of chores in our house. I am a bit of a slob. I don't fold laundry the way he likes it, if I fold it at all. Hubs organizes the clothes in our closet by color, the hangers all face the right way. That's just how he rolls. Some women look at me in horror when I tell them Hubs does most of the dishes and laundry, most just tell me how lucky I am, that confuses me. Even before the farm came into our lives I worked just as many hours as he did. It didn't seem fair to get home from my second job and automatically be left to do the household chores just because I owned a baby maker.
I kind of suck at being a wife, I guess it's a good thing I never had my heart set on being one anyway.
Now that the farm is our life we have a mountain of dirty dishes, clean clothes are almost extinct and our dust bunnies are more like dust hippos. Neither one of us has time to clean. I have a full-time and part-time job in addition to what I do on the farm. I milk cows, feed calves, drive a tractor and make decisions for our farm, just the same as my Hubs. When people ask me what I do, I tell them I am a dairy farmer.
This is why it mystifies me that so many women who do the dishes, laundry and childrearing as well as the tractor driving and cow milking call themselves "farm wives" rather than taking the title of farmer themselves.
Now, I am not a bra-burning feminist, or at least I have never thought of myself as a feminist, but it bugs me to hear my fellow farm women throw wife on the end of "farm" rather than "-er" when they describe their life.
What does it matter to me what someone calls themselves? I'll tell you.
I want women to be empowered to tell their farm's story. I have often talked to women who know just as much about their farm as their husbands but don't speak up and tell their story because they don't feel that they have authority. They hide behind the Farm Wife label in town but when things need to get done on the farm they are there beside their husband doing the work too.
What title you use doesn't matter so much on the farm, the work all needs to get done by someone, regardless of what we call that person. But when we are off of the farm and talking to the non-farm community does calling ourselves a farm wife, really do justice to the role we play on our farm? Farm women, you ladies can make the biscuits, milk the cow that makes the butter for those biscuits and make the decision about what seed to plant to feed that cow. You may do the traditional wife duties in the house as well but your participation in the running of the farm makes you so much more than just a farm wife, you are an equal, you are a farmer! Wear that title with pride and tell your story.
Carrie Mess writes regularly at dairycarrie.com.