Judy’s jet-black, shoulder length hair swung easily under a wide brimmed caramel Akubra. Her yellow cotton blouse, as glorious as the golden sunflowers in my home garden sat snugly over her chest accentuating her slim figure, before falling softly over tight black jeans. How anyone could look that good before 7.00 am was beyond me. Disembarking smoothly from the land cruiser, she immediately began hailing instructions to her three young children as they flung open the car doors and made their way to the back of the horse trailer.
‘Jackie, can you get the ropes and the horse rug and Dwaine you know what I asked you to do. Careful, as you lead Bluebell out, she’s a bit edgy this morning.’
‘Mum, where’s the hamper, did you put it in the back of the car? I’m starving!’ shouted Bonnie-Jean in all of her young three year old voice.
‘That’s impossible BJ’ Judy replied. ‘You’ve had breakfast less than 30 minutes ago. Here have a mandarin, that’s it. No more food. Where do you put it sweetie? There’s nothing of you.’ Judy handed her youngest daughter a glossy mandarin as a bevy of 4WDs with horse floats rolled past them into the showgrounds.
Loud cheerful hellos accompanied enthusiastic hand waving as children and parents almost fell out their windows to greet the regulars as they arrived for Saturday pony club. I had a bird’s eye view from my chair under the caravan awning. With a cuppa and cookie in hand and my feet perched up on a chair, I was in for a treat today. My copy of The Little Princess slipped to the ground as the activity before me picked up pace.
Judy, dressed in her savvy riding gear, strode past me as her chocolate brown boots clip clopped on the dusty track.
‘Good morning,’ I greeted her cheerfully. ‘So am I in for a show today?’
‘Well I hope so’ she smiled warmly, ‘that’s if these youngsters all stay in the saddle and don’t take a turn downwards.’ She laughed and intent on her purposes, hurried past. A wistful scent of flowery perfume trailed behind her and I made a mental note to find my perfume bottle again.
Before long the air was full with the neighing and whinnying of impatient horses, ready for a stimulating work out; the laughter of young children chattering about their passion: horses of course; and the eager voices of parents organizing, fussing, directing and instructing their children to mount and prepare for the arduous morning ahead. The facilitator was strolling around the arena strategically placing props and obstacles, readying the grounds for the skill training that was to come.
As the mob of bodies moved en masse to the arena, one little girl caught my eye. Her tiny frame seemed to sink into a heavy set dappled grey horse, which she was struggling to keep command of. He danced nervously around, while the little girl seemed at a loss to bring her stead to order. The reins hung loosely and though she tried to bring the beast up, it was to no avail. Not a good way to start the day, I mused.
‘Mum’ she wailed, ‘Beanstalk is being naughty. He’s not listening to me!’
‘And you’re not listening to me honey,’ called out a woman who broke away from the group of mothers huddled together in deep discussion. ‘You’ve got to get a good grip on those reins, or Beanstalk will never feel what you want him to do.’ She picked up the reins and firmly re-positioned her daughter’s hands. ‘See now he will know which way you want him to go. That’s better.’ She teasingly pulled her daughter’s long, blond, plaited ponytail and smiled proudly at her, knowing that this effort would eventually get good results.
Then it occurred to me, like a bolt of lightning striking a tree into a million exploding splinters of flying timber: these women are unsung heroes. Everyday heroes who are part of a story far bigger than themselves. Heroes who have recognized that they have an integral part to play in the human story – the story of family. They have chosen to participate in this story by giving themselves wholly and sacrificially each Saturday morning as they do the pony club thing and as they do every other thing every other day for their family.
Up before the sun on Saturday, no matter the season, these everyday heroes are on the job to teach, support, nurture and hustle the children out the door so that they might participate in a story together exploring the lessons of self-discipline, responsibility, integrity and care. This is about everyday heroes, mothers playing a vital and vibrant role in writing the story of their family’s life.
This takes time: everyday heroes make memories over and over again. This takes courage and effort; this is not about shrinking back, giving up or shirking responsibility. This takes faith; everyday heroes believe they are investing into something good and lasting. This takes a decision to say ‘yes’ to staying in the role despite the difficulties and the unknown. And this takes hope: heroism isn’t about taking your own life in your hands; it’s about being taken hold of something far bigger than yourself, by a story that draws you into its larger drama and empowers you to act in hope.
Everyday heroes understand that there is a larger story being played out that their own selfish little story and that they have a significant role to act out in this grand story for the good of others. We each have a heroic significant part to play for good and the continuance of a great story depends upon us all doing are part well.