Some bovine parenting wisdom for the new year
Part of our experience living across from a large cattle ranch involves rounding up the occasional wandering cow. One spring morning I drove by Willie, the rancher, waved hello and a few moments later, rounded a corner to find six calves frightened and confused in the road. Six mother cows were bellowing frantically inside the fence. I stopped and tried to shoo the babies back in, but they would not budge. I then drove back to get Willie’s help. He instructed me to stand on the far side of the calves while he distracted the heifers so he could open the gate. He then motioned me to move the calves toward the gate, and they immediately hurried in. I imagined the mothers’ relief as they happily reunited with their babies. Instead, I turned to find the mothers contentedly eating … not even a glance toward the gate. I was shocked. “Willie, what happened to the frantic cows I drove by just a few minutes ago?” “Food.” He quipped. “You mean those cows’ instincts to eat are stronger than their instincts to protect their young?””Yup,” he answered without looking up.What a lesson. Wherever did we human mothers learn that we must give up our needs to care for our children, I wondered? Certainly not from Mother Nature.We can only give our children what we possess, so it’s essential as we approach the New Year that we make it a priority to care for ourselves on all levels. As parents, we can get so busy caring and providing for our families that we forget to provide for ourselves. Did you do something today that helped you feel nurtured, loved, connected and fulfilled? If so, congratulations. You probably already have a good idea of what helps you connect to yourself. If not, it’s possible you just haven’t seen the importance of taking the time for connection in the context of your family’s well-being. The most important thing you can do for yourself and your family is to nurture yourself, and from that place of connection, connect with your family. There’s no more important piece of advice I can give you to dramatically improve the climate of your home. You must take the time to get centered and connected for three important reasons: 1. You will bring more of you to your child: more joy, more patience, more love. 2. Children learn primarily through modeling. If you take care of yourself, you’re more likely to raise a child who takes care of herself.3. We train people how to treat us. If you respect yourself, your child is more likely to respect you as well.Give yourself permission and start small. Get support from your spouse and friends – ask them to give you a little cattle prod now and then to get you moving in the right direction – and learn to ask for help before you burn out. We all appreciate “good horse sense” when we see it in others. Now, perhaps we can cultivate a little bovine wisdom as well. Vickie Falcone is parent program coordinator at YouthZone.
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