About four days a week, I walk for an hour or so all by myself in relative peace. Although these walks are major Restorers of Sanity, the real reason I walk is because I need the exercise. You would think it would be a nice time to just sort of relax, put the brain on hold, and enjoy the surrounding countryside…but that never happens. Instead I find myself thinking about Jack, my future daughte (holy cow, I’m having a girl!), the horses, the house, where we are living, why I hate it, why I love it, etc. The theme I most often find myself coming back to is “Country vs. Suburb – Which is Best?”
This usually stems from the fact that I rarely see a car on my walks and instead enjoy views of cows laying by a pond and a pasture of llamas (love!) but that I occasionally step on a dead snake I didn’t see or get hit in the face by a large grasshopper that jumped up right as I tripped over a rock on our dirt road (hate!). So in the course of five seconds, I can go from thinking “Wow, I really love it here!” to “OMG I FREAKING HATE IT HERE GET ME THE EFF OUT!!” Then of course, I start thinking a little deeper – weighing the pros and cons of country life vs. an easy life in the suburbs (it has to be easier, right? I mean, when the grocery store is closer than 15 minutes away and your plumbing doesn’t drain out by the pond and occasionally get backed up so the whole house smells like the sewer and your bathtub fills up with pond dirt and water bugs??).
So without further ado, here is my list of Pros and Cons of Country Life With a Toddler (because it would be/was way easier and more manageable without a child and if I were still childless I doubt we would move):
1. It’s Expensive (con)
You wouldn’t think it’s expensive. When we moved out here from California we thought “Wow!! 15 acres for less than we sold our condo for! We must buy this!” But we didn’t look at the whole picture. Unexpected expenses of farm life? Massive homeowners insurance payments (apparently, if you do not live within a mile of a fire hydrant you will pay for it), foundation repairs (appears the soil is not even remotely stable and foundation issues are normal out here, and it also turned out the warranty that came with this house on the last foundation work that was completed wasn’t honored), land maintenance (yeah, someone has to MOW that 15 lovely acres and trim those giant trees when they get too big and snakes start falling out of their branches onto your porch and their roots starts wrapping around your plumbing etc. etc.), gas (if you work in Dallas and need to commute 100+ miles each day and also if you want to, you know, eat – nearest grocery store is 15 minutes away). You get the idea. It’s not like having a little house in the city.
2. It’s Remote (pro and con)
I love having our house off the road (you can’t see it from the road). You can walk around naked and no one would ever know (well I hope so, I guess there could be some creepy Forest Creature sitting outside the windows peeking in but I prefer not to entertain that thought), it’s peaceful (right now all I can hear are birds chirping), it’s safe from Al-Qaeda, it’s a place peeople like to visit.
On the con side? If there’s a fire it’s going down (remember the whole fire-hydrant-more-than-a-mile-away-thing?), if the Forest Creature snuck in and got me it could be a while before anyone noticed I was missing, it’s so far out here that the few friends we do have in Dallas aren’t likely to visit without planning a whole weekend around it, we drive – a lot – for work, and it takes an hour to get anywhere!!!! Do you know what an hour in the car is to a toddler? A Very. Long. Time. Which means I spend a lot more time staying home than I would like. In fact, sometimes I go batty because I haven’t lef the house in so long…but the alternative is to plan two hours of driving around naptime and my work schedule to go do something in Dallas.
3. Bugs (con)
I don’t think I even need to elaborate on this one.
4. It’s beautiful (pro)
There is something very soothing for the soul about being out here (when the weather is nice and the bugs are hibernating). Right now is a prime example. Everything is turning green again – so green it almost hurts to look at it, if that makes any sense. Our road is lined with trees that make a giant canopy overhead…I walk down most of the road in complete shade, even when it is sunny outside. I see cows chillin’ in their green pastures, bunnies, sparkly ponds – all on my short walk. The trees and brush are so dense in parts I can’t even see into the pastures I am passing but occasionally I will hear a horse making snuffling noises and see glimpses of him moving through the trees. And speaking of horses, how awesome is it to look in our own backyard and see my horses grazing or scratching their backs on a low tree branch or cooling their feet in the pond? Yeah…I will miss all of that. I hope I will appreciate it even more when we come out to visit, which brings me to my last reason for loving/not loving the country…
5. I have lots of family here (pro and con)
I’m a girl who didn’t grow up surrounded by more than my immediate family and who pretty much only saw extended family on holidays and special occasions. Well, guess what? I now live on the same road as my in-laws, my mom and her husband, my husband’s cousin and her husband, his other cousin and soon-to-be-wife, and his aunt and uncle. Holy Family Overload, Batman!!!
Now, this is quite a lifestyle change. On the one hand, there is a whole lot of fabulousness to it. For instance, both of our moms like to feed us and play with Jack and will help with the animals or things around the house if we are gone. Sometimes it’s just nice to go let Jack play in someone else’s house…also, Jack love love LOVES his Grandmas!
But there is also a downside. It seems like someone knows what I am doing every second of the day. I try to go for a walk in peace and the next thing I know someone drives by and sees me and alerts the press and the next time I am at a family dinner everyone is asking me how my walks are going, where I walk, how often, etc. Even worse, sometimes I am trying to bust my rear and actually exercise and a family member will see me walking and want me to stop and chat (I’m not a chatterer). We occasionally get unnanounced visits, and everyone reports to each other what is going on so everyone knows everything (seriously). It’s safe to say, this got old fast.
OK, this is getting long so I am going to stop myself. I didn’t have time to include the schools, people, road-that-used-to-be-paved-but-is-now-dirt-and-covered-with-large-rocks, wildlife (umm, buffalos tearing down your fence and running loose in your pasture terrorizing your horses, anyone??), etc. I will save those for a rainy day.