I am half a year shy of turning 40 years old. I’ve lived in 2 provinces, owned 2 homes, had 2 kids, been married, separated and am currently single parenting 24/7. And yet nothing has made me feel more like an adult than the day I got my own Costco membership. It’s been a year now, and I’ve never felt more mature. It was the adult equivalent of getting my driver’s license.
In all seriousness, in these last 2.5 years I’ve become much more independent. Living on my own with the kids, I am forced to run a household on my own. Aside from the Costco card in my wallet, this also involves doing things I generally hate. Things I never had to worry about before. Like shoveling. Or mowing the lawn. Changing the batteries in the smoke detector. Now, now, before you call me a princess, you have to understand that it’s simply because I never had to do these things before. Because I was, well, spoiled. Lol. I lived with my parents until I was 27 years old, so household maintenance was their territory. While I did have to lift a shovel, and hated every second of it (Dad can attest to this), my Dad had a snowblower. Then when I moved out, I had a husband who did all the ‘outside’ work. He’d clear the driveway. He’d mow the lawn. He’d even do the gardening. I stuck to inside stuff. Give me a pile of clothes to fold over a driveway to shovel ANY DAY.
Now it’s just me running the house so if I don’t shovel, the driveway won’t get cleared. If I don’t mow, the grass (aka weeds) just keeps growing. Although, that’s not really true as one day this past summer, I came home and the man across the street had mowed my lawn for me. I barely know him, but I almost hugged him. I am not sure if he did it to help me out, or if my mass of weeds was such an eye sore that he was sick of looking at it. Either way, I was thankful because the one time I tried to mow, it was a disaster.
Picture this. A grown woman using a lawn mower for the first time- and obviously not having a CLUE. It was one of those electric ones that had to be plugged in. It took me a good 5 minutes to figure out how to turn it on. Another 5 to figure out how to keep it on. Once I had that down pat, I just started walking aimlessly, this way and that. I was so proud of myself……for 2 minutes, until I got the cord wrapped around a tree. I could just picture my neighbors looking out their window and laughing. I know they were. When I looked behind me to see how the lawn looked, there was nothing but patches of grass that I had missed. It was like a man who tried to shave his beard with a blindfold on. I had to back track over the many sections I had missed. Some I couldn’t get at, so I just left them. What should have taken 20 mins, took an hour. When I finally got to the front, I had a bit of a system figured out. I was rocking this!! I started smiling. Look at me! Just as I started singing Destiny’s Child’s song ‘Independent Women’ (out loud at that), I was interrupted by a zap sound. The mower stopped. I looked down……. I had mowed over the cord. Sliced it. A $40 extension cord gone, leaving me with nothing but a half butchered lawn and battered pride. I literally walked inside the house, closed the door behind me and sold the damn mower the next day.
After the mowing incident, I started to feel bad for my neighbors. As if me running out to the curb 7am every garbage day in pajamas and no shoes wasn’t enough, today they had to see me shovel. My hair was matted to my head under my hat. My face was beat red, okay purple, and I was sweating profusely. I was muttering curse words under my breath (or maybe out loud, I am not sure), and flinging snow. Okay, that’s also a lie, there was no flinging as it was so heavy I could barely move it. I smiled to my neighbors (the same man who mowed my lawn) and said ‘good morning! Isn’t this gross?’. He smiled and agreed, most likely talking about my appearance, not the snow. I bet he thought “I am NOT shoveling for this crazy lady too!”. What felt like 22 hours later, the snow was cleared and I was, once again, singing Destiny’s Child.
With this new found independence has come a sense of pride. A pride I didn’t have when we were first starting over, on our own, in a basement apartment. I didn’t think I could do this. Run the house, raise the kids, work full time. Stay sane. But yet, here I am. Some days, I feel like I am failing. When I burn supper (or cookies or waffles) or set off the smoke alarm or cry while shoveling. Or when I lose my patience with my kids and beg for a break that doesn’t come near as often as I need. But I’m not failing. Even when I’m drained and overwhelmed, or dealing with my kid’s big emotions, anxiety, sadness or their need to fight the other for simply breathing the same air and I have no one to tag me out. And on my low days, when there is no fuel left in the tank, I have no choice but to keep going. And while they don’t always get the best of me on those days, they get me. I’m here. And while I may be tempted, I’m not going anywhere.
I’m not saying any of this for praise. Parenting is hard for all of us, even on a good day. We are all simply doing the best we can. I’m simply reminding anyone that needs to hear it that if I can do it, so can you. It also helps to have a village behind you, which I do. I have a close circle of family and friends who I can call on when I need to. I’d be lost without each and every one of you. I also have a new special someone in my life to help me, when I need it. He happily changes my winter tires and smoke detector batteries, answers my ‘what do I do?’ calls at all hours of the day and simply laughs when I set his home alarm off while he’s working. Funny though, he won’t let me mow his lawn 😉 I guess because he saw mine. He has also seen me cook. He’s watched me trip over my own feet and has seen me cry over my kids. And yet, he’s still here, part of my village 😉
Anyone need to go to Costco?