Friday, April 30, 2010

I Got This

We’ve all been faced with things we don’t know how to do. It happens to everyone throughout our entire lives. The thing is that once you’ve been married for awhile, you tend to develop roles within your marriage. Like, I cleaned the bathrooms while my husband worked on the car. I made the hot cocoa for the kids while he blew out the snow on the driveway. I got him a beer while he accidentally made beef jerky on the grill.

I know it all sounds very June Cleaver, but what can I say?

Once that person who filled half the roles in your life is suddenly gone, it’s hard to tackle those tasks. But I’m here to tell you that once you start trying, there is a certain sense of empowerment that goes along with getting the man work done.

Take mowing. I had never mowed a lawn before in my life before my husband died. Never even started the damn thing. In fact, in my family, female mowing was frowned upon, especially by my grandmother. I don’t know why, but she seemed to take it as a personal offense every time she would see some woman outside sweating it out with her mower. She used to say, “I just want to get out of the car and smack her!”

So as you can imagine, I was brought up not knowing the first thing about lawn maintenance.

I don’t know about you, but after my husband died, I went through a phase where I just wanted to be able to do everything he did. I really wanted to try and fill his shoes in every possible way. I wanted to learn how to change my oil, put an entire lift kit on a Jeep, and be on a first name basis with every tool in my garage. And I thought the best way to get myself on the path to Manland was to learn how to mow.

So, at the age of 31, I ended up in my backyard with my dad giving me my first lesson on mowing. I’m sure it was a thrill for him, since he raised 2 girls, to finally be able to teach this to someone. Actually, now that I think back on it, he may have been a little nervous about me taking on this chore because he must have asked me 5 times, “Are you sure you don’t want to call a service?”

My mother tried to talk me out of it by convincing me that by mowing my own lawn, I was putting my kids in danger. She would say, “What happens if you run over a rock and it goes flying out of the mower?”

I have heard of these accidents and I don’t doubt that they happen. But I’m thinking my chances are pretty slim that my kids are going to die from a flying mower rock. As I later learned, I was in more danger of knocking myself unconscious on a tree branch I didn’t see because of my hat and sunglasses than injuring an innocent child. (Because of these incidents, my neighbors love to crack open a beer, sit on their porches, and watch me mow. Endless hours of summer entertainment.)

Anyway, after my dad taught me how to start the mower and get it moving, I felt this sense of euphoria. I could do this! I didn’t need a lawn service. I didn’t have to get married immediately because I couldn’t cut my own grass. I didn’t have to get suckered by the 10 year old down the street. I’m a modern woman…watch me mow!

And then it occurred to me. This is not that hard.

Ladies, if your husband has been selling you the line that you need to go clean the entire house because he has to go out and mow…I’m afraid I’m here to burst your bubble. ‘Cause what you do is pull a string and walk back and forth. And the best part about it is that it’s loud and you can’t hear a thing. Now that I’m a single mother, I look at mowing as a short vacation every Saturday from the screaming and tattling that’s going on inside my house.

But as empowering as walking behind a piece of machinery is, there is still a part of me that deep down considers this a man’s job. I still miss those golden Saturday afternoons when I was inside, working on the house, listening to the comforting sound of my husband mowing the lawn. So as my son watches me from the porch go back and forth and back and forth, I have only one thought that comes to mind.

Buddy…someday it’s going to be you out here.

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© Catherine Tidd 2010


  1. Aw. You go girl! My husband is a city kid, so he's never had a lawn mower before and I've never used a push mower either. The two of us were a sight trying to figure out our new mower. We must have looked like monkeys, tapping on it, poking at it, and trying to make that strange object work.

    Like you said, once you get over the first use, it really is just pushing it back and forth.

  2. I just want to say in "our" defense (for which there is usually none ;)) we do have to pull weeds too... lol

    Keep up the great work Cathy, I love reading these!

  3. I tried to start my mower a day before hosting my daughter's 3rd birthday party last April. My husband died in December, and the grass just wasn't growing very fast for awhile... then my kind neighbor mowed the front one day... but the back yard was recently becoming forest- like.

    I pulled that cord, I pulled again... I tried for several big strong pulls and after it still wouldn't start, I burst into tears and put the mower away. Ef it all. If someone loves me, or loves my daughter, they won't care that the middle of my lawn in the backyard is a good place to go for hide and seek.

    The lawn mower had some kind of thing that wasn't adjusted correctly for starting it... I should have known it wasn't supposed to be *that* difficult. I just missed my husband SO MUCH that now the moment I broke down with the mower is another memory emblazoned on this grief journey scrapbook of my mind.

  4. I'm laughing out loud. Your comment about "What if a rock comes flying out of it?" is so hilarious...

  5. Although mowing lawns was my first job as a pre-teen, I had mowed it exactly 2X in the 5 years prior to my husband's death. I'll never forget the first time I attempted it after that. I had to push the huge, heavy riding mower to the other side of the garage (the one with the semi-functional door) to jump-start it's dead battery with my car, only to get it on the grass & find the blades were not turning! Tears were inevitable that day, along with anger that I had to deal with it, but now it's funny.