Helping Farms Thrive

A Candid Discussion on Farming & Motherhood: Part 2

Aimee and family
In our last post, we met Aimee Hood and Megz Reynolds, two moms working in different areas of agriculture. In their conversation, they discussed “mom guilt” and the myth of work-life “balance.”
Below, their conversation continues, as they discuss how their childhoods impact how they see the world today; the bittersweet experience of work travel; and bridging communications gaps between scientists, farmers, and consumers.
Megz: “My parents had a very big influence on who I am today.”

Hi Aimee,

Thank you for sharing that article — I really enjoyed reading it and having the question framed in a different perspective. I appreciated her touching on her home life with her husband and kids and how they are raising them without gender roles in their house. I completely agree with her statement that "until men are seen as responsible in raising their children too, true gender parity will be impossible."

My parents had a very big influence on who I am today. Growing up they both worked, but in high school my dad actually had his own business and his office was in our home. Because he was working out of our house, he also found time to do about 80 percent of the cooking and cleaning as my mom was very busy with her career at that point.

Megz and her two girls
Megz and her two girls

My dad was the one who sent us out the door with lunches in the morning and had supper ready when we got home. We grew up all sharing in the responsibility of the house and had the rule within our home that whoever cooked never cleaned!

Growing up, neither my sister nor I were ever treated like we had to have certain interests based on our gender. We were always supported in our pursuits. My dad taught us how to chop wood, use a chain saw, shoot a gun and fix things. I remember a friend of my dad once asked him if he regretted not having any sons, and his response was, "Have you met my daughter Megz?"

One time, when I was about 8 years old and standing in my aunt’s kitchen on the farm, we (the girls) were helping her make pies for a 4H fundraiser when my uncle and a farmer friend of his walked in for coffee. This farmer took in the scene before him, smiled and said, "Look at that, all the women in the kitchen where they should be." That memory has played a huge part in making me who I am today.

Megz

Aimee: “Traveling is always a bit bittersweet for me.”

Megz,

Your last paragraph made me laugh out loud. Isn’t it funny how those moments in time can stick with you forever? (I try to remember that with my kids and always hope that I’m not scarring them for life!) I have a moment like that, too. When Craig and I were first married, we lived in a small house next to my parents. My parents were having a big family get-together for Labor Day, it was getting late, and Craig said that he needed to get home because he had to iron his shirts to wear to work that week. My aunt exclaimed, “What? Aimee doesn’t iron those for you?” Craig laughed out loud, said, “No, she has her own things to take care of,” and walked out the door to iron. I knew our marriage was destined was success, and, 22 years later, looks like I was right.

I have been traveling quite a bit for work over the last month. Traveling is always a bit bittersweet for me. I really miss my family, I sleep horribly in hotel rooms, and I eat a lot of food I know I shouldn’t. But on the other hand, I cherish the time I have alone — I get to watch a bit of Netflix, I work out almost every day, and this week, when I was driving three hours each way by myself in the car, I could sing at the top of my lungs to the music that I wanted to listen to. Traveling also gives me times to think, regroup, and make plans for the future, both personally and professionally. And so even though I am typically working long days when I am gone, it can be refreshing in its own way.

Hope you are having a great week.
Aimee

Aimee, her husband, and two sons
Aimee, her husband, and two sons
Megz: “Our experiences and challenges are very similar no matter where we farm.”
Megz’s crew
Megz’s crew

Hi Aimee,

Your email subject matter is aptly timed as I am currently in Germany at the moment! This is a very busy month for me — I’ll be away from my family for approximately 20 days. I agree that being away for work is always bittersweet. I miss my girls, and I feel guilty for leaving them, especially this month with me being gone more than I am home. That mom guilt is quite the beast, and no one really prepares you for it before you have children.

When I am away, though, I am very focused on what I am there to do, as I do not have any distractions and I can work as much as I want in the evening without feeling like I am neglecting my family. I also work out more regularly when I am away, and my trips inspire me, as they allow conversations with people like me who feed my passion for agriculture and knowledge.

As I mentioned, I am currently in Germany to meet with other agricultural advocates from all over the world to talk about what we are all working on in our countries. We all may have different crops, different practices and different governing regulations, but when we really get down to it, our experiences and challenges are very similar no matter where we farm.

One thing about travelling for work is that it really makes me value and respect the time I do have with my family. I find I am more engaged, patient, and a better mother and wife when I have the opportunity to be away and then come home.

I hope you have had a great weekend!
Megz

Aimee: “Those in agriculture need to talk more about what happens on their farms.”

Megz,

Hope your travels are going well! Your description of what you do when you are traveling is exactly me.

The purpose of your trip is so spot on. I can’t agree more — those in agriculture need to talk more about what happens on their farms. People who have never set foot on a farm can have so many misconceptions. We can all agree that we want safe and nourishing food for our families, and every farmer I’ve met is on a mission to provide that. Yet, rather than understanding where food comes from and the realities of farming, consumers are overwhelmed with labels and commercials that mislead them about “good” choices for their families. Many times, those “good” choices are less sustainable or less safe. This gap must be filled, so I am hopeful that you have gained some new insights and inspiration on your trip.

I am passionate about filling a different but complementary gap. I work with a lot of scientists who are working on amazing innovations in agriculture. But scientists don’t always do the best job talking about and advocating for these innovations. Many experienced scientists expect the science to speak for itself and have been taught to speak and write at a level that only their peers can understand. But consumers are skeptical about new innovations, especially when they impact something as personal as food. Scientists have to meet consumers where there are, at a level that they can understand. That might mean engaging on social media or spending time in their child’s classroom. We have to bring a new approach to this outreach, or our innovations aren’t going to be embraced. That would be a loss to our future.

Safe travels! I look forward to hearing about your trip!
Aimee

That’s all for now!

Keep reading Farm Meets Table for more fresh, diverse perspectives on what it’s like to work in farming.
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