GROWING UP COUNTRY is a 4-part series written in collaboration with
Tatum Evans of “Woodsy Wife”.
If you haven't already read Part One of the Growing Up Country series, feel free to head on over to Woodsy Wife to read all about where our stories began; our childhood, our homes, and the beginning of our journey. In Part Two, we are sharing our childhood memories of life in the country, the things that brought us joy, and the things that were most difficult.
Sadie's Story -- Growing up as a country kid was not something that I always appreciated. When my husband and I began throwing around the idea to move back out into the country, away from people, away from school and friends, I remembered how hard it could be to be so far away. I wrestled with whether or not it was the right thing for my family. Would my kids resent me? Would they struggle through some of the same things I did? Would they ultimately choose to abandon life in the country, a life I so strongly hope they fall in love with, as adults because of where they were raised?
In middle school, I very specifically remember hating living out in the country. Our bus ride to and from school was an hour long...we were the first ones on and the last ones off. While my friends went to the Youth Center in town on Friday nights, I couldn't go. My parents, who had just gotten home from work, didn't want to run me back into town only to pick me up again later that night (and they shouldn't have!). Chatting on MSN messenger, which was all the rage at the time, was extremely difficult with our dial-up internet. I couldn't just meet up with friends on a whim or bike around town looking for something to do. I couldn't walk to the playground or the library. With no driver's license and no internet, the middle school me felt trapped.
Yet, those few years of disliking living out there really are completely clouded out by all of my amazing memories of living out there and all of the wonderful things I've learned from growing up country. Truthfully, growing up in the country probably protected me from my hormonal teenage self more than it hurt me! Being away from the other kids when you're that age and so vulnerable really wasn't a bad thing for me.
When I think of how growing up country can benefit kids, I think of all of the lessons that can be learned out there. Patience, appreciation, gratitude, and recognizing life's frailty all come to mind. Learning how to wait for things we really want, like the first taste of a vegetable from the summer garden, learning to appreciate the gifts that nature brings, and learning that death is permanent and real and not something to be taken lightly, even with animals. You learn that you can't just run into town every time you need something, and you either have to get creative or make due with what you have. Growing up in the country gives kids a chance to be bored, and so forces kids to become creative, to become innovative. It gives kids a chance to learn how to just be, how to explore, how to ask questions. It teaches kids to live.
You see, not every kid has the chance to walk down the middle of the gravel road to grandma's house. Not every kid lives somewhere where they can go out on the deck and sing Pocahontas songs at the top of their lungs (yep, totally did that and to be honest, still do from time to time. I have no shame!). Not every kid gets to fall asleep to the spring peepers, gets to see what the stars really look like in darkness, or has a chance to sneak outside with their dad in the middle of the night to hear the wolves howl on the 40 acre plot next door. So yes, growing up country wasn't something I always appreciated. But today, as an adult, it's something I am so proud of and something I desire so strongly for my own kids to experience.
Choosing to homestead, choosing to live simply, and my love of being outside all began because I was a country kid. And for that, I'll forever be grateful.
Tatum’s Story -- Growing up has its challenges. At some point, every kid struggles with difficult choices, a distorted self-image, confusing right with wrong, and many other blurry situations that clear up as we age. Everyone goes through it. It’s a ‘been there, done that’ sort of thing.
Being a country kid has its own challenges, as you read a minute ago in Sadie’s story. For me, it was a little different.
In Part 1, you’ll remember that I didn’t live out in the country when I was young, but I did spend most of my time there. As far as challenges go, to be honest, I had it pretty good. I didn’t live on a farm, so I wasn’t getting up early or skipping out on anything to go do chores. I didn’t live far from the school, so it was convenient for my parents to pick me up from practice, or I could walk a few blocks and be home in minutes. I wasn’t expected to mow a big yard, or milk cows, (though I did help out on a farm sometimes) or look after younger siblings. My biggest challenge all those hot summer days down the long dirt road at my aunt’s house was staying busy. Using my imagination, coming up with ways to have fun, making up new games to play and extravagant forts to build, and perhaps the most difficult of them all, figuring out which swamp the frogs were in on a particular day so my friends and I could come up with the best strategy to catch (and release) them.
With woods to explore, a lake to swim and a big yard to play, the opportunities for fun were never ending, it just took a little ingenuity. Each day, we wanted to play harder and discover more. We learned lessons the hard way, got dirty, caused trouble and sometimes even got hurt, but that’s all part of growing up. You play, you imagine, you explore, you discover, you fall down, get hurt, learn your lesson, get back up, and you grow. All those challenges are benefits in disguise.
How has all this shaped us into who we are today? Find out which specific memories and lessons we continue to draw inspiration from in order to live a more simple, fulfilling life in PART 3, next week.
Did you miss Part 1? Go back now and read about where it all began for each of us; when we planted our deep country roots.
Want to hear more from Tatum? Head over to Woodsy Wife or find her on Facebook.
Keep up with our journey by subscribing! You can also follow along with us on Instagram and Facebook, too.
See you next week!
Check Out Posts on These Topics: