I am a Redneck Princess.
Let me tell you a little about myself and my family. My Grandpa was born in 1911. He was the oldest of seven boys (bless my great grandmother’s heart). Because he was the oldest, he was basically the ranch foreman—responsible for looking out for all of his younger brothers and making sure everyone got their farm chores finished. It was a vital role for a poor farm family. Everyone had to do their part or they went hungry.
My grandfather was blessed with the opportunity to go to college. He earned a degree in math education and became a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse. He eventually went on to earn a Master’s degree in school administration and was a principal for many years. That’s how he supported my grandmother and my dad.
In addition to teaching, my grandpa continued to farm—and my dad was his labor. The money he earned farming and selling insurance was his investment money. He made some very wise decisions with his money.
Dad is the only surviving child. He didn’t have all those brothers and sisters to help him on the farm. But, he continued to help my grandpa well into my childhood. I remember taking two weeks every May, and all six of us would stay in this little two room farmhouse. Dad would work the fields all day. I remember vividly riding the big red tractor with my daddy! Great memories of together time…
Eventually, Grandpa retired from farming. However, farm life was deeply instilled in my dad. Our lives bear the imprint of that upbringing. We grew up with a huge garden (I had never eaten store bought green beans until college). My mom canned produce all summer. We had the best homemade jelly (chigger plum jelly…mmmm).
We also had a very outdoorsy kind of life. I was my Dad’s little fishing buddy for years. Our vacations were spent at the lake, water-skiing and fishing. I can still remember sitting out in the boat in the middle of the lake as the sun set beyond the horizon. I would find myself moved by the beauty of God’s creation surrounding me. We would quietly begin to sing the old hymns that were burned deep within my soul. For me, the lake is the perfect place to worship God, the creative Creator.
Although I never went, my dad taught my brother to hunt from the time he was a small child (forgive me if you are against hunting…it’s a religious activity here in Oklahoma). Every weekend during deer season, my dad and brother would load up and head out. Those times together forged a strong bond between them. And, it also helped ensure that my brother stayed out of trouble. When other teens were getting into trouble on the weekends, he was out in the woods with our dad.
Now, I must tell you that somewhere along the way I lost that part of me. When I was married, my husband wanted no part of the outdoors, so I kind of just gave it up. I chose to put my upbringing behind me because he wasn’t interested, and I changed myself to enjoy whatever he enjoyed (OU football and movies). While I enjoyed those things too, I truly gave up a huge part of myself, sacrificing who God created me to be to support him in his endeavors.
As my marriage began to unravel, I traveled down to the farm to stay with my then 97-year-old grandpa. He was still amazingly spry at the time, and there was NO place he loved more than his farm. I loaded up my kids and my grandpa, and we drove out to the land. I started all three 4-wheelers, and the kids and I took off flying across the pastures. As the wind whipped through my hair and I saw the unbelievable joy on my kids’ faces, I suddenly came face-to-face with the truth: I did not know who I was any more. I made a decision that day to rediscover who I am, who God created me to be.
And, the truth is that I have farmer blood coursing through my veins. I recognize it every morning when I wake up before the sun comes up without an alarm (oh how I wish I could sleep past 5:30 just on weekends!). I see it as I find myself reduced to tears as the sun sets over the lake. I find it as my mouth begins to water, anticipating the savory taste of home-grown fruits and vegetables. I know it when there’s a fresh catch of fish frying. It is a part of who I am.
However, I also have a very feminine side. I can’t stand to see an animal shot (but I am mourning the last package of deer meat). My idea of camping must involve air conditioning and indoor plumbing. I love to fish as long as someone else baits my hook and takes the fish off. And, a broken nail is a call for emergency medical treatment.
There is a true battle that wages within me. There’s the part that battles to be a redneck, while my fierce princess alter-ego begs to be at the forefront.
But, I’m a single mom…
What does that have to do with anything, you might ask? I am a single mom of two boys. One of my boys is passionate about hunting and fishing; that farmer blood is obviously genetic. He carefully studies the hunting seasons, and he can tell you when opening day is for deer, turkey, and dove. If there is a season, he is ready to go! And, he loves to eat his wild game! One day, he came home from the neighbor’s house as I was finishing dinner. I asked him if he was ready to eat, and he informed me that he had already eaten squirrel with the neighbor. Squirrel is a rodent. Rodents are meant to be killed…but not eaten. You see my princess side coming out?
Anyway, my Cole is a passionate outdoorsman. Since dove season opened September 1, he has pointed out every single dove in the county. He can spot one a mile away! There is no father in the house to take him to do these outdoor activities. Normally, my dad, brother, sister, and brother-in-law are great about taking my boys out. But, this weekend they weren’t available…and Cole was desperate to go dove hunting.
Super single mom to the rescue!
If I were still married, I would have pushed it to the side and told his dad to go with him. However, that was not an option. So, I took up the challenge to take my boy hunting (with the supervision of the neighbor and his teenage son).
Saturday morning, I got up and showered and fixed my hair. I went to the nail salon because my nails were an absolute mess! (You should see them…hot pink with sparkles!) With freshly manicured hands and pedicured toes, I threw on my new camo shirt, my camo boots (with hot pink trim). I put my hair in a hot pink ponytail holder and carefully put my camo (with hot pink) hat on my head. Then, we loaded up the ammo and guns and made the two hour drive to the farm.
Redneck princess on the grounds!
We drove around the land looking for the perfect location. Between the boys and the neighbor, they decided on the old home place (where my dad and grandparents had lived). We stopped and began to pack the ammo in bags. With guns loaded and safety reminders stated, the two boys began the trek across the plowed ground. As the neighbor and I kept a careful eye on them, shots began to pierce the stillness of the evening. We could see the absolute joy and excitement in their faces as birds began to fall from the sky.
I didn’t hunt (although I carried my pistol in case I should encounter a rattler—I think I could handle killing a rattlesnake). But, I was there with my son. I had the joy of watching him drop his first dove. I had the joy of interacting with him in his favorite place. I had the joy of watching him grow from a young boy to a confident young man. I heard the excitement in his voice as he knew that he was killing his own food. Lets’ face it…men were created as conquerors, hunters, providers. He was conquering his prey and providing food for his family. He was on cloud 9!
While I have never been that interested in hunting, I am so thankful that I went—and I have determined to go hunting more. I’m not excited about sitting out in a deer stand when it is twenty degrees outside, patiently waiting for a deer to happen by. I’m not excited about shooting an animal as exquisite as the deer. But I am excited about entering my son’s world. I am excited about sharing with him in his passion. I am excited about stepping into his world, nurturing his passions, allowing that redneck blood to keep flowing to the next generation.
But you better believe that I’ll have my nails done first!
My position as single mom has placed me in a situation where I am far more willing to stretch myself, to try new things outside my comfort zone. It forces me to interact with my kids in activities that I have never cared about. Their passions are not the same as mine. But, I don’t want to make the mistake of allowing these days to pass me by without entering their worlds. I want to be the mom who steps in, actively participates, encourages and nurtures their pursuits.
I guess it’s now time to hit the basketball court with my oldest. Just hope I don’t break a nail…