Learning Something New


What do you think? The picture above is my lawn, and I mowed it all by myself. I probably sound like a child who has just tied their shoes for the first time, don’t I? Well, just like a child who is excited because they have  finally tied their shoelaces, I am excited because I  mowed my lawn, all by myself. Not bad, huh? For some of you out there mowing the lawn may not be a big deal, but for me…it was a very big deal indeed.

I’m about to state something obvious, so brace yourself. Being a single parent is hard. There have been  situations that have come up in the last year where  I  have found  myself thinking, ‘Well, crap. I don’t know how to do this, fix this or hook up that….he always did it. Now what am I going to do?’ I know what you’re thinking. This is a health and wellness website, what in the free world does  being, or not being, a single  parent  have to do with exercise or eating right? And you’re right, it has absolutely nothing to do with either. While it may not have anything to do with exercise or nutrition, it does have to do with a little  something called self worth. My experiences over the last year have helped boost my self confidence as well as my self esteem tremendously, both of which contribute to my self worth, and in turn, my overall health.

Case in point; taking care of the yard. The house my kids and I live in sits on a 1/3 of an acre…that’s a lot of lawn that needs to be mowed and a lot of flowerbeds that need to be weeded. As a young girl, my parents were both involved in taking care of the yard, though it was my Dad that would edge and mow the lawn while my Mom supervised my siblings and I in the weeding department. Yard work was always a part of the weekend while I was growing up, it seemed there was never and end in sight. As I got older and became a typical teenage girl terrified of anything with more than four legs, I begged my  parents not to make  me work in the yard where I would no  doubt run into several of my least favorite of God’s creatures.

They agreed saying I could stay inside if I would do the housework instead. Of course I jumped at the chance to avoid the  nasty little spiders and insects crawling around outside and  became acquainted with Windex and Lysol (in fact, we’re still friends to this day). Looking back, my Mom  is a genius! She went out and worked in the yard all day, which had to be done regardless, and came in at the end of the day to a house that had already been cleaned! And here I thought I was getting the better end of the deal…shows what teenagers know, huh? Thus ended my yard work career.

When I married my husband, it was always “his job” to keep the lawn looking nice. Not that there was ever a conversation pointing out that the lawn was his job, he just always did it, much in the same way that I was the one that always cooked dinner. There were, I’ve found in the last year, many things that he always did, things that I didn’t know how to do. Like hooking up the washer and dryer, fixing things that were broken, making adjustments to squeaky doors,  putting together  the BBQ grill, changing the oil in the car and of course, the yard work.

This past weekend the lawn needed to be mowed (and miraculously, there was actually a little bit of sunshine  so that I could!). So, I got  the mower out of the garage and looked at it. I had a friend who had come over once before and had  showed me how to start it as well as given me some tips on mowing a lawn, so I felt  fairly confident that I could do it.   I put all the levers, switches and handles where I had remembered him saying they should be and pulled the cord, fully expecting it to start.   Not so much. I wasn’t frustrated yet, after all I had only pulled the cord once.   I tried again…and again…and again (for five minutes). Finally, I stood back and looked at that stupid lawn mower like it was the devil himself.   I’m telling you, if looks could kill I would have a lawn mower buried in my back yard.

In my head, I  went back  through the checklist  my friend had given me and ensured that everything was where it was supposed to be and then tried again, but the damn thing  STILL wouldn’t start. I was so frustrated that I said, “What the hell you stupid lawn mower?”. I was so focused on why  it wouldn’t start that I hadn’t noticed my son come up behind me. Apparently, he watched me double checking everything and heard me ask the question. I felt all kinds of stupid when I heard him say, “Mom? Why are you talking to the lawn mower? It can’t hear you, it doesn’t have any ears.” Awesome, now I have my son telling me that the lawn mower can’t hear me…which, of course, I already know but he feels obligated to  share with me anyway. What a perfect freaking day this was turning out to be.

Eventually, I got the stupid thing started and the lawn finally got mowed. In the process, the mower only died on me three times and all three times I got it started right back up. After I had taken care of the lawn, the kids and I potted the flowers they had helped me pick out and we got those placed around the yard to help brighten it up a bit. They all agreed that while the lawn looked great, it was the flowers they chose that helped the yard look like we  actually lived here. That night, as I was kissing my daughter on the forehead and tucking her in, she said to me, “Mom, I think it’s pretty cool that you’re learning to do all these new things you’ve never done before instead of having someone else do them for you. I mean, we all need to learn  something new, don’t we?   That’s how we grow, right?” I smiled and said to her, “You’re absolutely right baby-doll.”

I got  them all tucked in, the doors all locked, the lights turned off and got to bed myself. Laying there waiting for sleep to come, her comment  kept coming back to me. It got me thinking about all the things I have learned to do over the last year, things I never thought I’d have to do. Mowing the lawn, fixing broken doors, hooking up the washer and dryer, putting things together, taking things apart, ripping out dead bushes in the yard, translating the electrician’s  chicken scratch on the inside of the panel box, taking care of the clog in the bathroom sink, etc. I smiled as I realized that whether or not I have a man in my life, I can do (or learn how to do)  whatever needs to be done, and that is pretty cool. So, you might be wondering, what is my next on my list? Actually, I have  four things at the top of my list. Testing the sprinkler system, re-caulking the shower, putting in a garden and taking Latin dancing lessons.

Now it’s your turn. I’m challenging you to learn something new, what’s it going to be? Maybe you want to learn how to play an instrument, build a birdhouse, learn to fish, learn to speak a foreign language, how to play a sport, bake a pie  or  fly a plane. Go for it! What are you waiting for? The only thing stopping you, is you. Get out of your comfort zone and learn something new, you’ll be amazed at what it does for your self worth. What’s it going to be?

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