Wait, I Don't Need a Husband for That

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

For much of my childhood, I grew up with a single mom, & although my mom won't want me to tell you this, she knows it's true: She has never been great at asking for help. She doesn't want to impose on others, & she's so independent that she wants to do everything herself. This is usually fine, because she's always been able to do just about everything by herself, anyway.

But this is, of course, both a strength & a weakness at the same time. It means that my mom does so much on her own - but it also means that, well, she does it all on her own, even when others would be more than happy to help out.

It's a personality trait I long ago took on as my own, often fearing asking others for their assistance even when I know it would be no imposition for me to ask. (Once, a long time ago, I wrote "No (Wo)man is an Island," outlining all the many ways people had helped me, which sort of changed my views on this.)

OK so: For the last two years, Mike & I have rented a duplex with a lease that specifies that lawn care is our responsibility. Okayyy? That's not why I rent, landlords. Our last upstairs neighbors took care of the lawn, but when they moved out, it fell to us. Yuck.

As spring began to bloom here in the CLE, so did our yard - & with all the rain we've gotten lately, it quickly became very overgrown. Mike secured a weed-whacker, but he never seemed to get around to the actual weed-whacking - so I started to get super-anxious, anticipating a text from our landlord about how we needed to take care of the lawn or risk being ticketed by the city of Cleveland.

So we argued a little, on a night when I wa spanicky & he didn't have time to do it, & as I started to get really worked up, I finally realized... hey, idiot, go do it yourself.

So I did.

I thought to myself, "Why am I waiting for my husband to do this for me? If I didn't have a husband I'd have to do this by my damn self. So go do it."

Why did I spend so much time expecting my husband to do the yard work? I certainly don't want to do yard work - but hey, neither does he! He shouldn't have to mow (err, weed-whack) the lawn just because he's the male half of our relationship & lawn-mowing is stereotypically thought of as a male chore. And who made up that stereotype, anyway? He cooks dinner; I can mow the damn lawn.

I had no idea how to use a weed-whacker, but everyone's gotta start somewhere, right? I had to unplug the living room extension cord & use it outdoors to reach the full length of our lawn, but I figured it all out.

It was humid & I was sweating buckets, but it also felt good. I felt powerful. I felt like I was taming nature. I felt independent & capable & badass. I felt proud, looking out over our small lawn as it transformed from an unruly, overgrown disaster into a decent-looking, presentable green space.

And it was a reminder to me that, although it can be a bad thing to be too resistant to asking for help, I never want to assume that other people will do something for me - even my husband. I want to do things for myself. I want to jump into things I don't know how to do & don't want to do, just because I feel a responsibility to do them on my own - not always, but mostly. Starting with the lawn.

Did I do an awesome, excellent, perfect job? Hell, no. Even with the extension cord, I still couldn't reach a small patch of the devil strip (this is a very Akron term; what do you call it?), so I left it overgrown - but overall, things looked pretty darn good, & it was such a relief not to worry about those landlord texts anymore, to be able to walk in & out the front door without a sense of panic coursing through me when I looked at our disastrous lawn.

The next day, as I sat on the front steps & talked to my best friend by phone, I admired both my blooming clover plant & the newly manicured (OK, that's pushing it) lawn I'd handled all by myself. I felt proud as hell - & you know what? Now I'm kind of excited to do it again.

Bring it on, adulthood. I can handle this.

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