30 things I learned as a cowboy’s wife by age 30
My 30th birthday was ugly. There was no glamorous or “dirty 30” party. My gifts consisted of things that Sam would love, and then he left to camp. I didn’t really see or hear from anyone. Basically, I sat home in ratty, bleach-stained yoga pants, feeling like a frumpy failure as Facebook dinged with “happy birthday” notes from folks I hardly knew. Achievements had not happened on the schedule I thought they would, making me a failure in my own mind. I sat there in a puddle of the murkiest, negative self-talk, falling to a new, personal low. Within a few days, those words, just like a puddle, evaporated. I refilled that hallowed out spot with something a little more positive. I thought about the things I had learned and how they could help me in my next 30 years.
So, enjoy the 30 things I learned as a cowboy’s wife by age 30.
1. Invest in plastic totes. They are essential for unplanned moves to and from remote locations, make great water buckets, and can be used to wash dishes and laundry when the septic tank goes out.
2. Never believe “it’s just a quick trip.” It is never a quick trip, plan to be stuck for two days. You’ll thank me.
3. Find a church. This is hard and weekly trips in might not work, but it is nice to have a place to randomly pop in for toddler play days, women’s bible studies, or 4th of July festivities because your husband is gone again.
4. Do not waste an opportunity to eat, drink, sleep or pee. When in doubt, see #2.
5. Let him saddle your horse. You are not less of a cowboy if you put dinner on or clean up the dishes before you leave.
6. Bored women cause problems. Get yourself a hobby and quit worrying about the rumor mill!
7. Clean your way out the door. I don’t care how bad the ranch did you wrong, people talk. At least take pity on the next unsuspecting family to take the job.
8. Avoid compounds when you can. They are a fish bowl the cats are always looking to hunt in.
9. Always interview. If you can’t afford to go to the interview, don’t take the job.
10. Get your nose out of the air. One of the best compliments I ever received was from an older store clerk, “you’re not like the other cowboy wives of XYZ, you’re actually friendly!”
11. If you’re itching to move, unpack. Unpack that box, put pictures up on the wall, whatever. This works well when you have a transfer coming too.
12. Use your kids. They can be a great way to interact or not interact, depending on the situation.
13. Learn to cook it at home. That sinful, fast food or big city craving you love? Find a recipe or you will never get it.
14. Never discuss work. It’s not your job so 90% of the time it is in your best interest to play dumb. (I’m still working on this one.)
15. Take care of your yard. It’s not that hard and it gives the busy bodies one less thing to talk about.
16. Detour your way home. Drive that long loop, go to the museum, visit that friend on the next ranch over. The life of a cowboy’s wife has no guarantee as to how long you’ll stay so make the most of it!
17. Take all the pictures. I didn’t learn this until much later, so I cherish the few pictures we have before I took up photography.
18. If you can’t eat it, wear it or put it on a horse, you probably don’t need it. Well, don’t get too hasty and toss the coffee cup collection or that collectable pencil art you somehow traded for.
19. Dogs should not be heard. There are no excuses, get them quiet or get rid of them.
20. Stock up on disposable baking pans like you do food. Life will be much easier next time you make a casserole for someone who is sick, an unplanned pot luck side or send frozen meals to camp for hubby.
21. Always keep the truck as full of fuel as possible. This small thing will keep a bad situation from being worse or from you missing out on a potentially great situation!
22. Ride the bridle horse. If you are lucky enough to have a bridle horse to ride, and your husband is pushing you to ride him, just do it. Don’t see it as being demoted to a broke horse, rather the chance to rise to the level of what that horse can do.
23. Collect your own gear. He may steal it occasionally, but at least there is a back up when you cannot afford to replace it.
24. Budget for ropes. Until I learned to rope, I did not understand how much their success depended on this!
25. Find friends who understand. There is nothing worse than trying to vent to your friend/mama/cousin and having to explain the etiquette breach that caused the problem in the first place.
26. Business creates community. And purpose and income and self-worth. In short, if you are not working, start a business.
27. Connect with older women. They’ve been there, done it, probably raised kids through it and have learned to avoid the drama in between.
28. Find your art. Whether your write, draw, play music or anything else, do that. Find time to do that. It is a special form of torture to live out in these beautiful, remote landscapes with your hands in the dirt and not express those stories.
29. There is no secret hierarchy. You might think so or some poor, misinformed gal told you so (bless her heart), but just be you.
30. Take that walk, ride, or drive. You never know when being aware of your corner of the world will matter most.