Midlife Crisis: The adventures of a thirtysomething first-time horse owner

With a horse in rehab and a to-do list as long as her arm, Amanda Smith was just about to cartwheel off the deep end. Then she took a deep breath.

From Amanda:

Hullo,  Horse Nation!

When last we chatted, Alfie was in week three of stall rest, and my spirits were up. With the prospect of Alfie soon being released into the wild of a 12×24-ft. paddock and much love and support from friends and family, this whole bowed tendon thing didn’t seem such a bad thing.

That was two weeks ago. If you asked me Monday night how I was holding up, I’d have likely used some choice four-letter words. I’m exhausted. I’m frustrated. I’m lost. I’m fed up. I want a vacation from my life, and it’s only week two of 10-minute hand walking!

I guess it started Saturday. I had a marathon Mothers’ Day weekend with mom and mom-in-law, then I had a 12-hour day at work on Monday. I think from the time I woke up Saturday morning until Monday night when I got home from my after-work-event I spent maybe 14 or so waking hours at my house. A lot of people are OK with that kind of schedule. I happen to hate it. I’m a home-body, really.  I like to be at home taking care of things on the weekends so my work week can be less stressful. I devised a system, remember?!

Unfortunately, no one else actually abides by this system… which can cause, as I learned during this episode, marital friction (Newly-wed Wylie, are you taking notes?). When I got home Monday night to my husband having a relaxing evening, I was pissed. I’ll admit it. I was. Wrongly, perhaps, but when you haven’t seen the inside off your house much in three days and you come home late to dishes in the sink, clothes in the washer *and* dryer and you have standing wraps to wash so you can use them the next day… and your spouse seems blissfully unaware of your desire to have these things done… you might be pissed too. Then you realize your spouse is going to be working late the next two nights and you’ll have to run home for the dogs after work, then dash out to the barn, etc…. Passive-aggressive rage sets in. I started huffing and puffing and angrily folding laundry in prickly silence.

I was still fed up on Tuesday morning–my husband could tell and asked me what was wrong. How am I supposed to do everything? Finish the laundry he started and put it all away? Wash Alfie’s stuff before I go to work in the morning? Work all day? Rush home to walk the dogs and feed them? Rush back out of the house to the barn for walk/ice/wrapping Alfie? Feed myself? Clean the dishes? (commence spiraling out of control sequence…)  How can people live this way? How can you just sit there and do NOTHING when there’s so much to do around the house? How can we possibly be parents if you aren’t willing to help? After 8 years of marriage shouldn’t you be able to anticipate what I need done just by looking at me? How do you have so much leisure time and I have so much crap to do?! How come you get to have fun and my life sucks?!

OK, the conversation I had with Wonderful Husband on Tuesday morning was not quite that bad, and I know my life doesn’t suck… He says I should have asked for help with the laundry. I say he should have offered to help since he started laundry while I was gone on Sunday and didn’t finish it. He said unless he knows it’s something that needs immediate attention, he waits until he isn’t occupied. I say why sit and do nothing if the dryer buzzer just went off? We kissed and made up and he told me, smiling, that I was a silly girl. It’s true.

Realistically, I don’t *have* to do all these things on my own. My personality-type *cough*control freak*cough* tells me I do.  I have problems delegating at work. I don’t like leaving my dogs in someone else’s care when we’re out of town. I volunteer to plan and execute way too many family/holiday meals every year chirping gaily, “Oh, don’t worry! I can do that, too!”

I guess there is a fine line between good time management and good management of expectations. Making those two things mesh well is something I struggle with, and I obviously get very stressed about it. I can bust my butt and get “everything” done with good time management. But “everything” needs to be realistic. I need to do a better job of managing expectations of myself. And if there is something that absolutely has to be done, I need to trust other people to help if I need it.

Horses can, and do, consume huge amounts of our time, but there has to be balance with “real life” and I’m realizing that quickly through this rehabbing process. If I expect to spend two hours every evening driving to and from the barn and completing Alfie’s rehab routine, I can’t expect that I am also going to get four loads of laundry done, cook dinner and clean up from that all by myself on those nights. That’s really ridiculous, and I’ll only exhaust myself. It’s totally OK to ask my husband for help getting things done around the house (trusting others); he is my partner in this crazy thing called life after all. And it’s OK for me to come home after Alfie’s taken care of and just have a bowl of cereal for dinner and worry about the laundry on the weekend (managing expectations).

OK, maybe it was an apple with peanut butter and some chips.

But… how is Alfie doing? you may ask. He’s good. He goes out in his 12×24 turnout for three hours in the morning, and we’ll increase that by an hour each week or so until he’s on the turnout schedule everyone else is on. He is rather enjoying himself in there, dumping the water buckets out and rolling in the resulting mud. He is still a handful to walk, mostly because he just wants to graze on all that beautiful clover; I insist we keep walking, and he has a tantrum a la Eric Cartman. So I may be doing our future walks in the ring, and then let him graze while he’s got an ice boot on his leg so there are fewer arguments. We are due for a follow-up ultrasound in about a week… And hoping to see lots of improvement!

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