Today’s Word from Deacon Amy…
As you may have guessed from my previous writings, I was a horse-crazy kid. I had posters of horses on my walls, horse figurines on my shelves, and a plethora of horse toys of various types and sizes. I can remember getting angry when I would overhear another adult tell my parents that it was “just a phase,” or that I would “grow out of it.” Nope, I knew from early on that horses were an integral part of my very being.
With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, I’ve been pondering my childhood and my parents. It’s interesting which memories pop out. Mostly, I remember my parents being overwhelmingly supportive of my dreams and my love of horses.
I grew up in a nice little neighborhood in Bothell – no room for horses there, but when I was in fifth grade, my parents found a barn not too far away where I could take weekly lessons. I loved my hour in the arena each week! I loved the smells and the sounds. I loved putting my foot in the stirrup and hoisting myself onto the back of a big, beautiful bay mare. That was my happy place.
It was years later that I learned just how nervous my mom was every time I climbed into the saddle. There was one lesson in particular that has really stuck in both of our memories. For whatever reason, the mare that I typically rode was feeling rather frisky that day. When I urged her into a canter, she began bucking. My instructor was the “don’t you dare touch the saddle horn” type. She instructed me to “ride it out,” and keep cueing the horse to canter. The horse continued to buck. We kept this pattern up for a couple of full runs around the large indoor arena. I was having a blast. It was exhilarating. My mother, on the other hand, was terrified as she stood outside the arena watching this 1,000-pound animal attempt to send her daughter sailing through the air.
Perspective is an interesting thing. What was exciting to me was terrifying to my mother. Somehow, she held it together and chose to keep supporting me in my passion. She set her fears aside so that I might experience joy. How lucky I was to have a mom like her!
When I was 15, my family took a trip to Hawaii. We went for a drive and stopped at a pineapple plantation. There were a few horses tied in the shade by a tree, so I went over to investigate. It turned out they were offering trail rides through the plantation – how perfect! My mom opted to stay at the farm store with my older brother. Knowing that I needed an adult with me, my dad gallantly volunteered to ride along. One of the cowboys pulled a couple of horses out, and off the three of us went.
It didn’t take long for our guide to figure out that I could ride. He decided to have some fun. The paths between the pineapple fields were wide open and very flat – the perfect place for a gallop. So, he and I would take off riding as fast as our horses could go. My poor father did his best to hold his horse back – you see, horses love to compete and will always try to run together. Horseback riding is not Dad’s hobby of choice. He was only there for me. The guide and I would run for a while and then pause to take a break and wait for my dad to catch up.
Looking back, I’m certain that Dad was pretty miserable that day. But all these years later, I still count it as one of the best rides of my life. That day, my dad chose to put my happiness first. He chose to help me chase my dreams, even though he probably would have rather been just about anywhere else. What a gift!
Parenting isn’t easy. Relationships can be hard. But choosing to allow another person to experience joy is such a wonderful thing. I hope, when my girls grow up, that they’ll have a few memories like mine. I hope that they’ll see times where I’ve put my own discomfort or fears aside and helped them to fulfill their dreams. Above anything, I hope that they feel loved just as much as I have been in my life.