Don’t you have those moments that just warrant an utterance of, “Calgon, take me away?” Originally a marketing pitch for Calgon bubble bath and bath salts, the definition of this phrase is now included in the Urban Dictionary: “the feeling a person gets when they have finally been taken away and they forget their present troubles and burdens.” The marketing pitch stuck as a phrase to wail when life was just a bit too crazy. That at that very moment, a nice warm bath with Calgon bath salts would fix everything.
    It could be that instant when all of your children are screaming at the same time and you aren’t sure who to deal with first.
    It’s on the tip of my tongue every Monday morning as I enter the farmhouse after being gone all day Sunday. Only Calgon has a chance of fixing the kitchen cooking carnage.
    Maybe it’s when you have already had four calves that morning and you hear that familiar rattle of gates signaling that more cows are coming up the alley to take residence in the calving pen.
    It could be when the 21 calves in the pen on the automatic feeder get to rough housing during the night and manage to knock off the nipple. Now instead of having naughty calves, you have hungry, bellowing calves.
    It’s possible that the phrase sneaks out of your mouth when you are walking cows and you see that you were gifted with three very toxic mastitis cows overnight. There aren’t instructions written on them for how to best fix them, leaving you to guess and wish cows could talk for a few minutes.
    We grew up with Mom saying this phrase frequently. Only now, as a mom with four little ones, do I fully understand why she would say this. It helps the morale to think that someday you will be soaking in a bathtub and everything will be fixed.
    All I have to do is say it and my kids get it, just as we did when we were young, that ‘Mom needs a break.’ The older I get, the better I am at actually following through on taking a real break from the daily stress of farming, family, and well, life. I realize that a few hours away from children, cows, and piles of dishes is worth so much.
    It can help reset my mood, making me calmer, ready to tackle the problems with a clearer view. It makes me a better mom, as if the patience that I had lost was suddenly found 30 miles away in the seat of a good restaurant with friends.
    Years ago, when I was milking the hospital cows twice a day, every day, I thought I could never leave the cows to someone else, because they wouldn’t do the job good enough. I think it was my husband who mentioned that it would be nice if I had one day off. It was a tough adjustment for me. I was always thinking about the cows when I got up in the morning, even if I wasn’t there with them, worrying incessantly.
    Fast forward a few years, and now my “farm brain” shuts off completely the minute I leave the driveway on Saturday night, and often doesn’t turn back on until early Monday morning when I have to plan my day.  
    Most of us don’t actually get to wash our stress away with Calgon bubble bath, or a bath of any kind that doesn’t involve children knocking down the door. With our society nowadays, having mini breaks is more possible. Like a quick check of the message feed with all of the girls in your dairywomen’s peer group. It’s a quick fix to unload your problems with a group that wholly understands your struggles and can offer specific advice to the situation. Or sometimes, it’s just a virtual hug. Knowing that they are there at the touch of a button can be a sanity saver.
    At the same time, it’s nice to have a group of friends that doesn’t have a farm background, so that you can go out and talk about something other than cows. We love our four-legged bovines and all, but it can be nice to think of other things every once in a while.
    We started a book club almost three years ago now, and the women that are involved in it are not farmers. It has been great to make new friendships outside of the dairying world, and they are often fascinated by our lifestyle. After a discussion about a good book, I’m always reenergized and ready to take on another day of cow dilemmas.
    I think my favorite is when the frequent saying of ‘Calgon, take me away’ among friends actually morphs into an outing. Not just saying that ‘we should get together’ like people do. Taking time to set a date, make plans, and most importantly follow through on those plans to make a great memory among friends.
    Stacy and I planned a ‘Calgon, take me away’ trip with two friends of ours, and while what we ended up doing was an abbreviated version of our original hopes, the getaway was simply wonderful. Undoubtedly better than any bubble bath. A day filled with good laughs, food, and retail therapy that will give me a happy place to go to as I greet the cows and the problems they bring to me.
    As the month progresses and new stresses arise, take a break. Make some time for you, spend it with friends, or perhaps even a Calgon bubble bath.
    Jacqui and her family milk 800 cows and run 1,200 acres of crops in the northeastern corner of Vernon County, Wis. Her children, Ira (12), Dane (10), Henry (5) and Cora (toddler), help her on the farm while her husband, Keith, works on a grain farm. If she’s not in the barn, she’s probably in the kitchen, trailing after little ones, or sharing her passion of reading with someone. Her life is best described as organized chaos – and if it wasn’t, she’d be bored.