This past weekend, Bean had a birthday party for one of this classmates at a petting farm. I had never been to a petting farm before. In fact, when I got the invitation, I had to Google it before I found out that petting farms are real farms that kids get to visit. Only, they are allowed to touch everything and try it all out.
It was such a fun party! The kids got to actually milk a cow, for crying out loud!
This particular cow was seven months pregnant, and I don’t know about you, but I was not patient at seven months pregnant. Especially not when it involved someone pulling on my ta-tas. Bless this cow.
(Sorry it’s blurry. As soon as the milk came out, Bean squealed and ran!)
There were also horses they got to ride, peacocks that paraded around, bunnies to pet, and even baby chicks and ducks to hold in our very hands!
And there was this enormous goat pin we got to walk in, too. I had never seen so many goats in one place! They would walk right up to you and let you pet them all you wanted. Even the babies. Though, this one momma goat got a little irked at me when I petted her baby goat a little too long. She came moseying over, headbutted me right in the thigh, and then stood between me and the baby, giving me this look like, “Back off, crazy!” I don’t blame her.
Bean had no need for me that day. He was off with 10,000 of his closest friends from school, blowing easily from this group of friends to that, enjoying being with everyone. Everyone, that is, except for me. Because the farm was so well contained and the tour so well led, parents really got a nice break. We just followed the “herd” around (see what I did there?) while the tour guide kept everyone in line. It was nice for a while, but about halfway through the morning, I thought, “This is what it is going to be like soon. The kids will be off with their friends and I’ll be left standing here, just wishing they’d come back.”
I got very sentimental as we boarded the farm train, which would take us on a tour of the property. I walked up to the train with Gracie (who stayed with me all day since she wasn’t really a “guest”), only to find Bean sitting in a row with four other boys. When I poked my head in, he said happily, “There’s no room, Mom!” and I happily responded, “Okay, Gracie and I will be a few rows back if you need us.” But inside, I cried a little. I’m always Bean’s train conductor when we ride trains. When we play trains at home, I’m Percy and he’s Thomas. When we pass trains on the street, we count the cars together. And now, my seat was being taken by four preschool boys.
Gracie and I headed to the back of the train until we found a free row where we could both sit. I was just snuggling her in next to me, fully prepared to force her to cuddle until my maternal meltdown passed, when I heard the sweetest little sound. From three rows up, I heard Bean call out, “Mom?”
I looked up, and there he was, all by himself. He was walking down the train platform, looking in each row and calling, “Mom?”
I called out to him, “I’m right here, buddy!” And he met my eyes, smiling as he climbed up in the row with us.
“Hey, Mom,” he said, as casually as if he hadn’t just melted my heart into a giant puddle of goo.
“Hey, buddy,” I said, as casually as if I didn’t care that the first born fruit of my womb actually needed me. “Whatcha doing back here?”
“I just wanted to sit with you and Gracie,” he said. “Did you see that big turkey back there? He was huge!” And the conversation moved on as quickly as it started.
We spent the train ride together, laughing at the funny things the animals did and showing Gracie everything Bean could name. And I know it meant nothing to Bean. I know he didn’t think twice about coming to sit with me. But it meant the world to me. It meant that maybe, one day, far, far away, even when Bean is off with his friends living the life that I so want him to enjoy, maybe he’ll still call my name every now and then and come sit with me. Just because I’m his mom.
I guess that’s really why we do it, isn’t it? Why we let them pull on our ta-tas, why we headbutt people to keep our children safe, and why we love them up so they can go out into the world all by themselves. Whether we are cows or goats or humans, we do it all because we are their mommas, and we know they will always return to us.
And that’s what I learned on a farm.