The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Thinking Out Loud

by Natalie (Dowell) Schmitt


written 8/29/2016

There are many times in life when we need to remember to keep our mouths closed, literally and figuratively. It is obvious in the barn.

With summer tails slapping in the sloppy gutter, there is a greater chance of moisture and other solids being flung around in the air.

I'm always trying to breathe through my nose as I walk through the barn, just in case. Thank goodness I don't have allergies and a stuffy nose.

What really triggered my idea for this week's article topic was when I was walking down the feed lane.

As I took in a big breath to holler down the barn at Mark, a couple of flies were caught in the moving air current.

Instead of words, the next sound was me trying to cough the flies out of my lungs.

I realized the spider webs clinging to the corners of the ceiling weren't doing a very good job at capturing the flies.

So, I made a mental note to myself...keep your mouth closed in the barn and run the broom along the ceiling and walls to capture the spider webs.

That mental note has served me well in other ways. I have learned over the years there are times when it is just better that I keep my mouth closed, take a deep breath (or maybe five really deep breaths) before I even start to say anything.

Just because a question has been asked, doesn't mean there has to be an immediate answer given. Sometimes time will answer the question even better than what I could have said in the moment.

For years, my mother has joked that the mother of the groom wears beige, keeps her mouth shut and smiles. As funny as that sounds, there is great wisdom in her observation.

As our son Jonathon's wedding date neared, I realized it was best to keep my mouth shut, listen and smile. We had our wedding 29 years earlier, and now this was their wedding.

The staging of the event has changed over the years, but the meaning of the day has not.

The wedding came off without a hitch and they started their life together as man and wife.

As parents, you pray your children will find the right one for them. Jonathon did in Libby.

Now that all of our children are over 20, our role as parents has taken a new view.

We are no longer in the driver's seat of our children's lives. We have moved to the backseat where we need to keep our mouths shut and enjoy the ride.

Boy, it is hard not to be a backseat driver. Especially when you see the road and signs through your eyes of experiences. No, they won't make the same trip in life that we did, but may they reach the same destination with someone they love sitting next to them.

When the kids were little, we did all the talking and we hoped they were listening. We tried to provide a solid foundation for them to build a wonderful life.

Over time, the roles have shifted as they grew. They do more of the talking and we do more of the listening.

Times are constantly changing. This point was clarified as we remembered moving from August into September.

As we walked in the barn this morning, we were caught by the idea that we didn't have any cattle heading to the 2016 Minnesota 4-H State Fair Dairy Show.

This is the first time since 2005 that we haven't shipped cattle and kids out for the five-day encampment.

In the middle of all the action, we struggled when all four kids were gone to the fair for their vacation and we were left behind to keep things going.

But, we clung to the knowledge that they would be home again. It usually took a couple of days post-fair for them to catch up on lost sleep to get back to the regular routine, but things would eventually go back to normal for that moment in time.

Now, no one will be coming home with state fair stories to share, dirty laundry to wash and extra help around the farm.

So it's time to take a deep breath (without flies), smile and move to the back seat as our children take control of their lives and keep on moving down the road of life.