Several years ago, I think it was the first summer that I had both a garden and a milking parlor to tend to, I decided that I needed some overalls. They would have a good pocket to hold my phone, I could pull them on over anything in the early morning, and (most importantly) I would look like a farmer.
This was, of course, back during the days when our friends and family were saying things like, "You guys really did get those goats, huh? I thought you were just messing with us." And, I was getting skeptical looks whenever I dared to enter the farm store. I needed those overalls. Those overalls would help me to look legit.
The truth about the overalls I chose was that there was nothing legit about them at all. Are you ready for it? I ordered them online from The GAP. Sure, they had straps that went over the shoulders and a bib in the front. But, they came distressed and with a few snags. They were pretending.
But, then, at that point, so was I. Or, at least I felt like I was. I donned my cute little overalls and gathered my shiny, stainless steel milking pail and tromped out into the yard to milk my goat. It didn't feel real. I felt like I was playing a part -- the part of farmer.
But, over the years, these same overalls have grown legit. They're now covered in stains and paint splatter. Those snags have become holes, and there are others besides. I've lost a piece of hardware on one of the straps, and it's being held up by a safety pin.
And, much like the overalls, I, too, have become legit. It's hard to know at what point we -- these overalls and I -- became the real deal. Just which hole or stain or animal death or birth marked the point when we were no longer pretending?
I suspect it wasn't really one point in time but rather the collection of moments. It's the fact that we haven't thrown in the towel. It's that day after day, I rise and tend to my animals and pull the weeds and pour the soaps and gather the eggs. The legitimacy comes through the commitment to the lifestyle -- the day in and day out nature of it.
I've always loved these overalls, but I've also always been a bit embarrassed by their beginnings. I guess that shouldn't really be the case, though. They tell a story of transformation.
In our lives, sometimes change happens like that. You work and work toward a goal, and it feels like pretending. But, one day, you stop and look around and realize there's no more pretending to it. You are the real deal. We commonly rejoice in that finished product, but these overalls remind me that there's beauty, too, in the becoming.
(Thank you to my brother-in-law whose question about the legitimacy of my overalls led me to this blog post. :)