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The red dirt road was cool under my bare feet and it felt good on that warm January day. I walked as I usually walk these days – arms filled with a fifth baby we call Joshua, mind still in awe of all we’ve been given.

I could hear the iron T-post pounder as I walked so I followed its melody. Stewart is building fence these days – when he’s not working nearly full-time – making him easy to find when he’s out on the land. As I moved down the dirt road, a shadow cast by cedar trees reminded me that it is still very much January, though I can’t bring myself to call it winter. So I moved back into the warmth of the sun and looked down into the face of the smallest of men.

I had planned to go talk to Stewart – he usually tells me how things are going and we bounce around homestead and work ideas. But something kept my bare feet on the dirt road and I just stood and watched. I saw him pound T-posts with unimaginable ease. I heard him talking to Elijah and Abram – nine and seven – as they worked together to clear fence line with their daddy. I saw it all through cedar trees the deepest shade of green and they never even knew I was there.

I remembered then what my biggest fear was when I was a very young adult, not long before becoming a wife and young mother. I feared I would become that female cliche they lie to you about in the movies, the one who woke up in her thirties and realized that motherhood and marriage had stolen a piece of her. In this nightmare she stared into the mirror at a woman she could no longer find, empty from the giving, robbed of her identity.

Ten years, five babies, and far fewer appliances later I stood on that dirt road as a different cliche – barefoot with a baby in my arms, about to return to the kitchen. The girls would be awake soon and we would make dinner and wash dishes. The boys would run into the house and tell me all about their adventures while retrieving the milk pail. I would look around at these five and wish not for their lives to be easier than mine, but for them to have fewer lies to wade through on their way to truth.

Because they were wrong and so was I; I am neither empty nor robbed. Quite the opposite, actually.

Quite the opposite.

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