Peering over her laptop in her sun-lit home office, Dixie Lynn, 33, laughs while talking about watching “The Little Rascals” with her children, Samuel, 8, and Rosabelle, 5. Dixie taps the keyboard, checks her email and gets a bit of work done before heading outside to feed the family's hens.
“This is the best point that I’ve ever been at in my life, the happiest, the most fulfilled," she says.
Dixie hasn't always been so comfortable juggling multiple roles. Within three years of meeting her husband, Nathan, 36, the couple married and had two children. After the birth of Sam and Rosie, they tackled parenthood together, but Nathan, a musician, was often on the road performing and working side jobs to support the family and his music.
“I didn’t want him to give up the dream of playing music,” Dixie says. She wonders if Nathan realizes the magnitude of her contributions at home. She wonders if thanks go unsaid.
Five years ago, Nathan went to work for the McCracken County Public Library. His full-time job and hectic performance schedule often prevent him from spending time with Dixie, Sam and Rosie.
“I’m trying to maintain my identity but also be a very good mom and a good role model for them,” Dixie says. “This is my role and it happened for a reason.”
In the fading light of an unusually warm October night, the family works together threading jute twine through metal posts to create a makeshift fence.
“Without Dixie, I couldn’t do what I do,” Nathan says as he ties the twine.
A tiny smile creeps across Dixie’s face as she hears her self-proclaimed "folk-musician-pretending-to-be-a-librarian" husband acknowledge that he is married to a good-hearted woman.
Clutching one of the family's eight chickens, Samuel Lynn, 8, grins as his mother, Dixie Lynn, 33, investigates the hen's feet. Dixie feeds the hens in the middle of the day, and once Sam and his sister Rosabelle, 5, get home in the evening, they let the chickens forage for food on the lawn.
Dixie helps her husband, Nathan Lynn, 36, get organized before he heads to work at the McCracken County Public Library early in the morning. Once Nathan leaves, it's up to Dixie to transport Sam and Rosie to school. The kids are accustomed to approaching Dixie for most things. "Having that identity makes you feel important and unique in the broad scheme of things," Dixie says.
Rosie watches herself brush her teeth in the bathroom mirror as Dixie brushes Sam's hair. Corralling the children, getting them fed, ensuring everything they need for the day is packed and getting them to school can sometimes be an ordeal. Dixie likes to be in charge and considers herself a "strong-headed person."
Dixie stretches from the front seat to pull Rosie into their van before their short commute to Heath Elementary School. Dixie and the kids clamber into the van each day, toting backpacks, school supplies and various items Dixie brings to the school.
Balancing on one foot, Dixie double-checks the quantity of copies she needs to make for a handout in Sam's second grade class. Sam and Rosie are able to see Dixie at their school during the week when she volunteers her time, something her mother did when Dixie was a child. "I love that aspect of my childhood," she says.
Dixie and Rosie sip on coffee and hot chocolate during Sam's fiddle lesson at Time on the String in The Coke Plant. Each week, Sam's lesson provides Dixie and Rosie an opportunity to spend one-on-one time together.
Standing in front of the chicken coop holding a hen, Rosie keeps an eye on the others while Dixie and Sam visit with Dixie's mom, Debra Stroot, 59, of West Paducah. "I like who I am. I like the things I stand for and values I have learned and inherited," Dixie says. "A lot of who I am comes from my mom."
Before giving in to the swarming mosquitoes and heading inside for the evening, the family works together to finish a makeshift fence for their blackberries. With Nathan frequently gone, time to finish tasks around the house is limited.
Huddled around their mother, Sam and Rosie begin to get the giggles. Dixie ensures that both Sam and Rosie tend to their homework each night. Although Dixie wears many hats in their home, she is confident that she is able to fulfill her roles well.
Rosie giggles as Dixie reads her gross facts about the world and its people. The family finishes each night with 20 minutes of reading before turning out the lights. Firm in her identity as an individual, mother and wife, Dixie says, "There's no going back, there's only going forward. You have to figure out how to navigate this new space in your life."