My oldest daughter, Monika, loves gymnastics.
She has been swinging from and flipping around on the stall dividers in our barn since she was a toddler. After she outgrew the stall dividers, any horizontal pipe she could find became a bar.
I remember her asking once about the section of pipeline that crosses over the walkway between our barn and milk house, “Mom, can I hang from this?”
She still swings around in the barn, even though she’s now swinging around in the gym, too.
The gymnastics apparatuses other than the bars haven’t come as naturally for her, but she keeps working on them and keeps improving. Her commitment makes me proud.
So when parents’ day came for her summer gymnastics session, I was excited to see her progress.
Her group did vault, then beam, and then bars.
I watched her determined smile as she swung and flipped, maneuvering her body around the bars.
And then I watched as her fingers grasped the high bar and just as quickly slipped off. My breath caught in my throat as I watched her fall and land flat on her back.
A few seconds later, I was sitting on the mat next to her.
“It hurts to breathe, Mom,” she said.
I wasn’t surprised that the fall knocked the wind of out her.
“Just keep breathing, honey. One breath at a time,” I coached, remembering how hard it is to not panic when it feels like you can’t breathe.
I know more than a few dairy farmers – my husband and myself included – who feel like they just fell from the high bar and got the wind knocked out of them.
Some of us are panicking.
The bills aren’t getting any smaller and the milk checks aren’t getting any bigger.
We just keep breathing. One breath at a time.
This is when we summon the grit and determination that make us dairy farmers.
We keep working and keep improving. One day at a time.
In time, we’ll be back up on that high bar.
The author is a dairy farmer and writer from central Minnesota. She farms with her husband, Glen, and their three children. Sadie grew up on a dairy farm in northern Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in agricultural communications and marketing. She also blogs at Dairy Good Life.