Sure, it's a popular cliche, but if I'm being honest, the longer that I'm a mother, the more I see the truth behind it. Raising kids is a lot like running a barn. While I have ridden and worked with horses all my life, I had the opportunity at 18 to actually manage a barn for endurance race horses. Now I have the opportunity to manage a household and the parallels are numerous!
I have noticed that horses and children compare in three major ways:
#1- Feeding time. Every horse has a different purpose or job and each horse has different dietary needs. Ergo, mealtimes at the barn consist of first, preparing each horse their own specific meal. This is much like feeding time at the Ramsey's, no one EVER wants the same thing. There also must be an order to it, you can't just feed the first horse on the line first because then his neighbor might totally flip out. So, you have to feed the most anxious horses first and THEN the more relaxed ones. Much like I have to put Suzy's plate down first so she doesn't have a panic attack. And whatever you do, don't mix up some one's food....oh alert the authorities! Whether it's horses or kids, someone will be kicking, thrashing or getting sick.
#2- Traveling time. Whenever we load horses onto a trailer we have to be careful in what order we do this. You can't put two horses next to each other who fight, you have to pick two that get along. Also you can't put a horse who refuses to back out in the very back of the trailer because then they have no room to turn around. You can't load a very nervous horse in the very front because if they panic and start kicking around they could injure another horse. And thus it is with children. I can't put Suzy and Caeden next to each other because they will fight the whole time. But I also can't put Gavin next to Suzy because Caeden likes to have a buddy and because if there are two car seats in front then the child in the back can't see the DVD player. I can't put Suzy right behind me because then she messes with the buttons on said DVD player and because then I can't reach over the middle seat to button Caeden's belt, because I can't fit into the back and reach him with my huge belly.
#3- Play time. Just like you can't load certain horses together, you can't turn certain ones out at the same time either. Some horses fight so they have to be in different areas. But then some horses get nervous if you separate them so you can't do that. This gets VERY complicated if you have a threesome, like horse A and horse B hate each other but they both LOVE horse C. In cases where you can put three together one horse will always establish dominance. With children, it's much the same, one horse becomes the bully, one horse tries to fight back but ultimately fails and one just eats grass and ignores the others. So our paddock becomes the playroom and voila! It's my house at playtime!!
So I feel very grateful for my experiences in the stables because it helps me understand the frenzy that I am living as a mother. It's messy and wild and a little smelly sometimes but hey, what can I say, I just saddle up and enjoy the ride!