Got Beef?

Livestock auction in Bayfield County.

Ten years ago, I birthed a beautiful baby boy. Our first major outing was the Bayfield County Fair where I, with my heightened hormones, watched middle and high school boys (and girls) auction off beef to pay for college. Later, while nursing and watching yet another rerun of Friday Night Lights, I looked at my bundle of joy and saw the makings of a QB1 before me. A QB1, who’d raise cattle on our lakefront lot, sporting a John Deere ballcap, to help pay for the 4-year college he would attend. He was destined for greatness. Several years later, it’d be this fair, where a sheep would trample his face in his Mutton Bustin debut, and the next morning he threatened to release the sheep so he could have a “rematch” with them. It was the beginning of the end of me determining my son’s fate. That in fact, my son is going to be whoever and whatever he wants to be.

Fast forward to today. This month, I watched Enbridge battle to the bitter end for the best-looking steer in Bayfield County. Due to inflation, politics, or good will, several of these four-legged creatures would sell for over $20,000. As for Jake, he was grossed out by their poop and instead stood in-line with his buddies to ride the biggest thrill-seeking ride he can find at the fair for what’s likely the 12th time today, before another riveting night of Fortnight with his online friends and perhaps some fishing with dad. We did get a cat, though. And Jake is dreaming of ducks, so apparently at least some of my hobby farm genes did get passed down. As for QB1, he loves sports but has yet to sport a Tigers football jersey. Now that I understand concussions a bit better, a part of me had to terms to that, only to have him ask me this week if he could sign-up next year. And so it goes.

Ten years of parenting. Hard to believe. By far, the most painfully humbling experience to date. Sure, there are parenting books and blogs that offer endless advice, tips and tricks to raise a well-rounded human being. Family and friends are lifelines. But in the end, it is just you and a mini-version of yourself pointing out all of your flaws in real-time, 24/7. Pure bliss, right?

Don’t get me wrong. Parenting is also the universe reminding me that anything worth anything is hard. That the real stuff is rarely easy. That you get what out what you put in. How do I know that? Because every time this beautiful, stubborn, competitive, sassy boy is about to push me over the edge, he offers me up a large helping of perspective. A nighttime hug. Crazy and creative stories and adventures he’s having at daycare. A mean game of hoops. Duck shopping and movie watching. Or, the random joke.

“How many rings do you need when you get married,” he asked me last night. “I don’t know.” “Three. An engagement ring, wedding ring. And suffer-RING.”

Cue the belly laugh that actually brings tears to my eyes.

This summer I had a series of goals that I didn’t accomplish. The goal setter in me is a bit disappointed. Some of these were around writing. Some of there were work-related. Some of these were running related. BUT, I set out the year with a goal of living my life with intention and alignment.

My summer involved a lot of chicken in a biscuit and aerosol cheese with Jake (IYKYK)- and before you judge, there was plenty of fruit on the side. Boat rides and swimming and a few too many festival cheese curds. Belly laughs and basketball and trashy books on the deck. Lots of baseball and maybe some Teremana (thank you Dwayne). Sleep overs, fishing and cabin time. Twin games and trampoline parks and a lot of Lattes. Beaches and barbecues. Sunburn and a few new crinkles around the eyes. Thrill seeking rides, bonfires, and sleeping in.

To be frank, I wish I had experienced even more this summer. That I had listened to my heart a bit harder and doubled down on abandoning some of my professional “goals” for the bigger lesson the universe was trying to tell me. That a life in alignment means prioritizing the people and things that matter most. Not someday, but today. Because as I know all too well, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.

By goal setting standards, perhaps I failed a few times this summer. But lessons were learned and goals are being retooled to the person I want to be – both personally and professionally. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

To change – and more changes on the way. Grateful to be in a place where I can do that. And grateful for a son that reminds me, the only constant in our house right now is change.

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