My Country Experience

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My parents have always led the way with
strength and passion.

  I was raised in the little country town of Meadow, North Carolina. Back then, there were no street names and our address was a rural route number. We had one school, a firehouse, a grill, a convenient store, and a garage, and they were all located across the street from one another. I was raised by two very hardworking parents, and was the oldest of three girls. But, just because we were girls doesn't mean we were girly. Blue jeans and boots were a comfortable fit to our way of life.

I spent most of my time, outside of school, at home playing. I used to love riding my stick horses (which were actually tobacco sticks with hay twine used for the bridle). I also enjoyed making mud pies (you can always find new ingredients to use in the country). When I did visit my friends, all I had to do was either run across the adjacent fields or ride over. There was always a tree to tie my horse to while I played. Back then, the days seemed endless and life was carefree. I didn't come in until after dark, dirty from head-to-toe and momma always had us a hot meal waiting. 

I also used to cherish being my daddy's shadow, especially when he went hunting. I have always been inquisitive of things around me, and this gave him lots of opportunities to pull pranks on me, like the time he told me to rub the perfume bug between my fingers and then smell. Have you ever smelled an agitated stink bug? We also liked swimming in pa-pa's water hole. We would splash around one end while daddy fished at the other. Growing up, we always had plenty of animals, but we cherished our horses above them all. When I was little, my parents would put me on a horse and lead me around until I fell asleep. (Imagine how much gas they saved) We spent every weekend at the horse shows. Barrel racing and pole bending were our main events, although there were some others we liked to do for fun, such as Texas barrels and the potato race.

The country was also a great place to raise a kid because there was a life's lesson at every turn. When you grow up in the country, there is always a job to do. From the time I was little I was always under someone's feet, even if it was just shelling peas and snapping beans. It may have seemed like playing then, but the older I got, the more I was counted on to help pull the load, and whether it was helping with the cooking or stacking firewood, there was always something to do. I learned that working hard and taking pride in your work (no shortcuts) produced results, I learned to enjoy and respect nature, and I learned lessons on life and death. My me-ma and pa-pa lived down our winding path, across the road, a few fields down from us (walking distance). They rarely ever went to a store to buy anything. They had plenty of chickens (meat and eggs), and grew about anything you can think of in the field: corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, snap beans, field peas, turnips, squash, collards, cabbage, cantaloupe, watermelon, etc... They also churned buttermilk and made quilts among other crafts. The country life gave me strong roots and prepared me for the life I have today.

I am now married with five children: Aaron (13), Caleb (11), Maria (9), Jonah (3), and Leah (7 months). Did I miss anyone? We have a few acres of our own and animals at every turn, including horses. I am a senior at Methodist and hope to graduate in December with Bachelors in Social Work and a minor in Criminal Justice. I would have graduated long ago, but I took time out of school when my two youngest children were born to be at home. I believe that a career is important and I believe that parents need to provide well for their children, but I also believe that this should be balanced with a quality family life because time doesn't wait for anyone. I must say that my children's country experience is not the same as mine; they have many modern conveniences and forms of entertainment that I didn't have, and we get most of our food from the grocery store, but I am trying to raise them with the same hard-work ethic, respect for nature, and enjoyment of life that I experienced. I am still extremely close to my parents and sisters, and we all still barrel race together. Although we are grown with children of our own, we are stilled referred to as the Jernigan family at the shows.