In this article I will reflect upon a topic that many women hunters who have a family may feel, but have difficulty sharing with others for fear of being misjudged. It is the topic of being a mother and a huntress at heart.
Before I had children I could hunt when I wanted to and be totally absorbed in all of the experiences that I found in the woods. It was an absolute addiction, and still is. Once I became a mother this all changed. It really makes you learn to appreciate what time you do have and to not take anything for granted. For example, you have to take the first animal that presents an opportunity - and not be picky.
Now I struggle just having a day to hunt, due to the fact that finding a baby sitter can be very difficult. At times I have to cut my hunting season short because I could not afford to spend any more money on childcare. When I am in the woods I am worried about the clock and getting out of the woods on time to be back to the house for the sitter. I often do not get to bed until 12:00 or 1:00 and am back up at 4:00 to hit the woods. So instead of soaking it all in, it’s all I can do to keep from falling asleep in my stand or blind. It is easy for me to feel frustration on a day that is perfect for hunting, when I am stuck at home day after day.
I often feel swallowed up by my responsibilities as a mom: cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, restocking bare cupboards, baths, dishes, discipline, homework, bills, pets, taxes and yard work to mention a few. In addition to the day to day things there are also my children’s activities at school: their club meetings, a few sports games and religious education. Nowhere in my day or week is there time for me for: movies, television, phone calls, leisure reading, letter writing, a nap, a regular meal, enough time to drink enough water- you get the idea. Being a huntress is a part of what I am, but to others I am a mommy, an employee, a wife or a daughter. No one can see the person inside of me that is crying and screaming to get out and smell fresh air, listen to the sounds of the water as is runs over the rocks in the creek, the sounds of turkeys gobbling, the smell of deer scent during rut, the excitement of feeling a fish on the line. I often wonder to myself how long I will have to live a life of confinement; much as a person in a traffic jam on the highway wonders how long they will be there. It’s not that I do not love my children. I absolutely love them to pieces. I am torn between who I am at heart - I am a mom and a huntress. I wish I could wave a magic wand or add one day to the week that was just for me. I would even take having 4 hours just for me, but that will not happen.
I must remind myself that I need to instill this same love of the outdoors in my children otherwise when they grow old enough to hunt, they will have no understanding of it or thirst for being in the woods. As a child I have fond memories of playing in the creek, seining for minnows, catching frogs and crawdads for fun; fishing, noticing all of the birds and their beautiful songs and enjoying the playful squirrels. Right now my youngest is 2 and my oldest is 7. They are still too young to actually hunt, so I decided that teaching them to fish and enjoy camping would be an entry point for them to get to know the outdoors a bit. I also take them to local creeks when I can to just get wet and muddy.
For the first time in my life I am experiencing the first stages of arthritis and other physical challenges. I have always been one of the strongest women I knew, physically and in my former life, even worked out at the gym, breaking weight lifting records for women. But with children this changed too and I rarely even have time to go for a walk. I had to learn to live on 3-4 hours of sleep with my oldest daughter, until she was about 2 ½. Then I started getting a whole 6 hours of sleep. Until last year when I discovered that my daughter had a genetic issue that explained why she could not fall asleep. Now that she takes medication for this I have begun to get a few nights of 7-8 hours of sleep a couple times a week. My son is currently very difficult for me to handle when his ADHD and 2-year old-ism turn into one great big tantrum. Life, stress, lack of food and sleep has taken its toll on me and I am feeling it.
I pray that God will allow my life to get easier as my children get older and that my days of hunting will return. I want to be able to look back and feel that I made the right decisions for my family and myself. Instead of feeling torn between two things that I love, I hope things can come full circle so that I can share my passion with my children and feel like a whole person again.
My heart goes out to all the women who are torn as I am. The best advice anyone ever gave me was: “Embrace Who You Are – At This Moment!” and “You may feel that you are losing the person you are, but when your kids are older you can come back it.” For me hunting is like a love affair with nature, you thirst for it and grieve when you are apart from it. It is a true love that for me will never die within me.