And as anyone with little kids know, when they are around you have to watch every single word you say. A carelessly spoken word about someone gets repeated at an inopportune moment. A slip of the tongue, and soon your 6 year old is saying "That's total crap!" at anyone within 50 feet. So while we were alone for this cup of coffee, I really took off the filter.
"Why don't we just quit showing sheep? This is total insanity. We can't win against people that have been raising sheep for 40 years! Think of how much money it will take to ever really be an established breeder! I think we should get out now."
(Yes, this is an embarassing look into the mind of someone who has quit every hard thing that has ever come my way.)
Unfortunately for me, the judge of *Our* breeding sheep show was sitting at the table next to us. And overheard every word. And laughed. Not the best first impression. #ShootMe
But, Reid is shockingly patient with me. And he perseveres through anything. In 11 years, I have not ever seen him quit anything. Including our marriage, which trust me, is no walk in the park when you are married to a habitual quitter.
He didn't laugh at me, he didn't tell me that my frustrations were unfounded, and the next day when we competed (and did not win! and I don't mean, almost won, I mean did.not.win.) he didn't try to make me feel better while I went on and on about why we should probably just quit because losing is so painful.
Instead, he just got back to work. He made plans to change up how we are feeding them. He planned out his breeding schedule with our new rams the day that we got home.
Somehow, adversity makes him better. Competition makes him more determined. Losing makes him more diligent.
On our drive home, he told the kids how proud of them he was. They worked hard. They did their best. They didn't complain when our sheep didn't win. They didn't blame the judge. They didn't wonder if other people had cheated by dating their lambs incorrectly. They didn't grumble or whine at all.
It's a humbling moment when you see that your spouse has managed to teach your kids something that you have been incapable of learning or teaching them yourself.
Livestock showing really, truly, isn't about winning.... although, I bet winning is awful nice... But it's about the humility that comes when you don't win. And most importantly, it's about what happens AFTER the show is over. It's about the passion to do better. To be better. To work harder.
I know that perseverance is learned. And like all things that are ever mastered, they are learned over time through practice. It's ironic that you can only learn to not give up by continuing to have failures and practicing the art of not quitting. And yet, in only one year, I can see how far my kids have come.
And I know that in their spiritual life, waiting for God to answer a prayer that seems impossible or unheard, or persevering in their marriages during the hard days that come, or in their careers when encountering difficult tasks... this is the lesson that I want them to learn the most. More than filling them up with math facts. More than mastering geography or writing clearly, I want them to learn the art of not quitting.
I know that livestock is only one way to accomplish this, but in a generation of young adults and children afraid to try and to fail, and even more afraid to let their children try and fail, I am so grateful that we found our way.
Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.