Monday, August 15, 2016

Woman of the House - A New 300 Rejections Series Vol. 1

One of the biggest adjustments back to single life is knowing the car and home maintenance fall squarely and singly on my thin shoulders. When I was last single 15 years ago, I rented an apartment and had facility people I could call if something needed to be repaired.

Last summer, my parents helped me with a few things. Dad rebuilt the rotting wooden steps that led to the patio; he re-anchored the gate in my back yard; he also repainted the porch railing and replaced my furnace filter.

In the past year, other things have gone kaput: my DVD player stopped playing; my microwave lights up and blows air, but does not heat. Excessive rain the day after Christmas flooded my basement. The spin cycle on my washer is working less reliably than in the past. The wall mirror in my bedroom tipped over and shattered. The kitchen faucet is broken and the ceiling fan switch in my bedroom needed to be swapped out.

It's been irritating and overwhelming. It's also been empowering as I find creative ways to prevent having to fork over a lot of money for these repairs or replacements. With the magic of one cord (sourced by a friend's husband and teenage son), we watch movies using my laptop. A friend passed on a microwave that was on its way to Goodwill. So far, these have been reasonable workarounds for some of the malfunctions.

Two friends helped me replace the switch in my bedroom. Since I'd taken the basic electricity class at Home Depot last year as part of my 40/40 list, I had some sense of how to replace it. My friends didn't take over the job, they let me do it and guided me through the process. They were complimentary about my confidence and ability to do the job.

So when I was told recently that I needed a man-of-the-house and a friend would be the man until I got one, I was caught off guard. He listed a litany of things he wanted to help me with. I was embarrassed to discover that I needed to have changed my furnace filter many times since my Dad did last summer. I had no idea! I wondered, "How do I learn all I need to know?"

I also cringed at the thought of not being a competent homeowner on my own.

It would be great to share the burden of these responsibilities with someone some day. I like the idea of trying my hand at partnership again because I'm a team player. I like the concept of a couple working side-by-side accomplishing things together. But I cannot subscribe to having a man-of-the-house simply because I don't know what I'm doing, and I need someone to do things for me.

This awareness reminded me that you don't know what you don't know. It also reminded me of what Maya Angelou said: "When you know better, you do better."

And so tonight I did better. I drove to Home Depot. I asked a lovely young woman at the customer service desk where to find the filter. I told her about the kitchen faucet I need to replace as well as the filter and she cheered me on. "You can do it. Get on YouTube and it'll show you step-by-step. I replaced my garbage disposal on my own with the help of YouTube. My Dad was shocked. 'How'd you know how to do that? he asked. I told him I learned online. You can too." I also marked my calendar to remind me to replace the filter in 90 days, per the filter information.

I don't have a problem asking for help if I think I'm out of my element. (Like when I tried to replace the struts on my pathfinder. WAY OUT OF MY ELEMENT.) But I definitely want to learn to do as much as I can for myself. So the wake-up call is worth the embarrassment. There's a lot at stake: my own self-respect and self-confidence as well as ensuring my daughter has a great role model. She's watching my every move. I want her to watch me be a confident homeowner. I also want her to know that she is capable of anything. Just like her mom.

Me with a gleaming white new filter


The replacement is already on my calendar

Next up: I'm going to watch the delta faucet video. I'll keep you posted.

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