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  • Writer's pictureMollie Dollahan

How 10 years and Show Pens changed my life. Sitting at the End of 10 Years...

When it starts you can't feel the ending. You know it will happen, but it doesn't seem real. Her 1st year of 4H we kept the pigs at my dad's. We didn't mind going over there everyday and we felt like we didn't have anywhere to keep them anyway. Fair came and there is my little 10 year old baby showing pigs and you know what I did...I yelled at her. It came out of no where, telling her how to move the pig better, but not in an encouraging way. Let's face it, none of us are perfect, and I'm sure we've all regretted something said in the barn. But last year, when she walked in that ring for the last time, she knew exactly what to do. And you know what, she really didn't need me at all. Well, that's not entirely true, she always needs money! But you get my point. She's at Purdue now and yes she stills needs money, but her and those 10 years are the reason 4D is

Maddie's 1st Year in 4H

where it is today. That 2nd year we kept the pigs at home. We fashioned up a old wire corn bin, but that 3rd year those gates finally came to life. That was a game changer not only for us, but for our kids as well. 7 years of raising pigs at the house taught my children more than I ever could have imagined. It taught them self-discipline, empathy, values, hard work, you get what you put in, and nothing ventured is actually nothing gained. In the end, 4H was the best thing I could have done for her. She learned tangible skills, she had something to belong to, and at the end of that 10th year, she was proud of herself and her accomplishments.

Did we ever win the pig show....hell no. But she made lifelong friendships, went on trips, and learned how to say goodbye to something she cared about. That's what I'm learning to do all over again now. There's no way to prepare for the ending of those 10 years. No matter what advice you listen to from other moms, nothing prepares for the day it actually ends. My entire life has been nothing but a huge transition this year and over the next few months, I hope to take you on a journey if you'll let me. I have gained lots of knowledge over the last 10 years and I see no reason to just keep to myself. In the moment, there were times I didn't think I was going to be able to get through those 10 years alive, but they are over now. All I'm really left with is years of knowledge and a slew of emotions.

Maddie's 10th Year in 4H

I see posts on Facebook of moms standing today where I was a year ago and all I can tell you is to buckle up. It's hard, it's sad, and you are going to cry. You are going to wonder if you did everything right, you are going to wonder if you could have done better, and you are going to wonder where all your damn money has gone. Often times, I wondered why my barn didn't look like I was married to a show pen builder. You are going to look back and say, "How did it go by so fast?" So as we get ready to jump into a new year, remember to take a breath. Watch them do everything you taught them to do and enjoy this time. Whether it's year 1 or year 10 you're almost done, trust me when I say that. You'll feel it very soon. Our youngest has three years left. We have goals set and empty show pens ready, but it will never be the same. She cried after her last pig show and she cried after selling her animals. So even though I'm constantly wondering if I did things right, her being sad that her time in 4H was over quietly told me, thank you mom. She did more for us than she'll ever realize, crap it changed the entire way we run our business. I'm still sad that chapter of my life is over, but I'm looking forward to seeing her future take shape. I was blessed to be able to grow with her those 10 years and as we get closer to the new year I'm excited to share a piece of my experience with you all. My favorite part of selling show pens is meeting all of you. People in the same walk of life. So yeah, I see you 4H mama's, trust me I see you. Truth be told, we don't ever really see the end of those 10 years coming, but when it arrives you feel it forever.

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