A ranch wife braves taking her three young children to the local rodeo by herself while her husband is away at a branding.

The sun was already high and hot when I woke up in a crowded bed. My feet were sore, my forearms burned, and my voice was hoarse. I poured a cup of coffee and grabbed a handful of pills from the nearest bottle in the medicine cabinet. I had no idea what they did, but I wanted them.

cowboy and cowgirl with faces painted at the rodeo

What happened last night? All I remembered was putting on my town clothes and going to the rodeo with my usual crew. Someone was wearing swim trunks. We jumped up and down a lot. Then we came home and ate crunchy Cheetos while looking at the stars.

“Hey, I see a constellation!” said Grace. “Mom, what’s a constellation?”

young cowboy standing behind bucking chute

At age 6, Grace is my only daughter and the oldest member of my crew. She is followed by 3-year-old Milo and baby brother Levi. All three kids like to sleep in Mom’s big bed when Daddy is working away from home. At the time, my husband was still branding calves at a distant ranch for the spring works, so I decided to take all three kids to a local rodeo by myself. Because clearly, I am insane.

I didn’t drink anything stronger than a diet Sprite, but the next morning found me feeling worse than the pick-up man who got bucked off and ran over by his own horse. The rodeo lasted approximately three hours, but I watched a mere seven minutes of live arena action. I spent the remaining time standing in line to buy food, standing in line so my daughter/son/self could use the restroom, and retracing my steps looking for things my children had dropped.

baby boy in bounce house at rodeo

After jiggling a 20-pound baby while inching forward in line for 45 minutes, I paid $7 for plain nachos that my kids smelled and declared “too spicy.” Then they ate the buns off my cheeseburger, which really bummed me out because I wasn’t on a diet.

But, the kids jumped in the bouncy house and splashed down the inflatable 18-foot waterslide for hours. They got their faces painted. They mutton busted and stood on the catwalk behind the bucking chutes, looking out over the arena like big shots. They removed their hats for the national anthem and bowed their heads for the opening prayer. 

“Mommy, can we go to every single rodeo that comes to town?” asked Grace.

I smiled.

“Yes, baby, we sure can.”

Author

Jolyn Young lives with her cowboy husband, Jim, and their three kids near Fallon, Nevada. She chooses to focus on the comical side of life, because her family is going to laugh at her anyway.

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