Wednesdays are not my easiest days.
My oldest child and only daughter, Lorelei, has a horseback riding lesson at 4:45. She and her first brother Ben jump off the bus and into my car at 4 PM for the short drive to the barn. Lorelei must pull on her breeches, eat something, brush and tack up her pony in those short 45 minutes. I help a lot--she's not yet 9 and her (shorter) height alone means she can't do a few things by herself yet.
But I also have to supervise Ben and his preschool brother Kiefer, who are always eager to see each other after their separate school days. Yet this eagerness does not always translate into nice, quiet, cooperative play. Please, they're boys. Always competitive, sometimes grouchy, often tired boys.
But the time constraints mean that we all need to pitch in. Sometimes that simply means I trust my boys to play alone in the front yard of the barn, where their yells and balls won't spook any animal. Sometimes that means Kiefer is scanning the bridles and doing his best to read the names of the ponies to find the name of Lorelei's pony for the day. Sometimes that means Ben is grabbing the saddle or starting to brush the pony. It's a team effort, and our team of four always delivers our rider on time.
Of the barn families, I'm the only one who drags her younger children to the barn for the older child's lesson. Most have nannies or sitters to take care of the non-riders in the family. There is significant ease in this approach, and some beauty, too--time spent with just one child is wonderful and worthwhile for everyone involved. On Lorelei's weekend ride it is usually just the two of us, and I relish this mother-daughter time around my favorite animal, watching her do one of my very favorite things.
But on the weekdays, I want my boys to come. I want them to practice putting someone else--and, how wonderful that that someone else is a girl, their sister--at this very young age. I want them to realize that it's not always about them, about their ball sports and traditional practices. I want them to practice (with minimal complaining!) supporting someone else in their passion, even if it is not a passion of theirs. I want to start molding them to be good partners now.
All of this makes my Wednesday afternoon one of my most challenging times of the week. But it's often my most rewarding, because when I see images like this, I know I'm doing the right thing for all three of them.