As my family drives down Interstate 70 heading west toward Sedalia, my mind races. Did I remember to pack the blower, clippers, spray adhesive, wool cards, sheep coats, buckets, feeders, health papers, and registration papers? And that is just for the sheep bedded down in the stock trailer.
The show season is in full swing. Whether your child shows cattle, swine or sheep, as a livestock show mom (or dad) this is the time of year you long for. The countless hours you spent in the barn with your child is about to payoff. If you are a show mom of girls, you get to see if all of the stomping, huffing and panting experienced while breaking your animal to lead will yield a show quality animal. If you are a show mom of boys, well, I will let you fill in the blank. I am no help in that arena.
Still there is one thing I think unites us show moms and dads. We love watching our kids in the show ring. Really, I cannot think of any other place I would rather be whether it 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 105 degrees than ringside. Watching my child, and others, walk around the ring with an animal that they have invested their money, time and talent in is very rewarding.
But if we are honest, there are also those times of dread. No matter how we spin it, coming in last is never fun. And honestly, I wouldn't want it to be. I am a show mom. I do not want my daughters to be content with coming in last. We run in a show circuit to compete—and compete to win.
In this world, of "everyone is a winner," I am a firm believer that the show ring is a great place to teach our kids that there are winners and losers in the game of life. The important part is how we as parents teach them to deal with not always coming out on top of the class.
Many times my daughters have not stood at the top of the class. But one thing is for certain, when they are pulled out to stand along the fence, they are looking at what animals beat them. They are looking not in envy—okay maybe a little envy—but mainly to see what will it take for my stock to compete with those top three or four animals. Then when they head back home, they start calculating what they need to add or take away from their flock to produce animals that are the top of their breed.
As livestock show parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children how to lose with grace. We should also teach them to see each loss as an opportunity to improve, whether themselves or their stock.
So here is hoping for another successful show season to you and yours. May your efforts be rewarded with solid placings in all your classes. And if not, may the lessons we teach our children help them improve as individuals and agriculturalists.