When she was 16 years old, Joanne left school to marry her boyfriend and start a family. She had grown up in a family with 12 brothers and sisters and said of that time, “We had nothing.” She plunged into a similar situation when she and her husband started their life together as teenage parents. As a young mother with three kids in five years, she rose daily at 4 a.m. to milk dairy cows no matter rain or shine, or lack of sleep or 20-below-zero wind chill in northernWisconsin.
In talking to her about her life, it was never easy. Family dairy farming is a lot of hard work with little pay. Cows don’t wait to be milked and young children don’t wait to be fed and changed. Joanne was tough as nails, but even she had her limits. Once, after a particularly rough night of no sleep and an early morning of milking cows, her husband made a snarky remark about the disarray of the house and laundry. Incredulous, she stormed out and left him with the young children and all the work. She did not come back for a week. Joanne had no plan when she walked out. She just knew she was angry, exhausted and needed a break. The only thought she had was, “Hell, let him deal with it.”
With steam nearly pouring out of her ears, she drove away with a heavy foot on the pedal, knowing only one thing for certain: her own worth. This was the era before cell phones and no one knew where she was headed, least of all Joanne. She had no contact with her family, but after a week of cooling down, she walked silently back into the farm house.
No words were needed, as each spouse had achieved an “attitude adjustment” during their time apart.
For more about Joanne's story: http://permissionslips.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/the-farmers-wife/ My friend and colleague and I take turns updating our Permission Slips blog each week.