I pulled the cord on the mower for the first time this season and pushed the mower across the front yard. I made a U-turn, and cut across the yard in the other direction. I can get lost in my thoughts when I mow. As I made progress, I felt a wave of sadness press hard against me. The force of the sadness was equal to the exertion I expended wielding this heavy machine. (I do not have a flat yard.)
I usually feel a sense of empowerment when I’m pushing the mower. I feel strong and responsible. But on this day, I reflected on the 14 years I have lived in this house. Eleven as a wife, and three as a divorced woman. So much has changed in the landscape of my head and my heart. But my lawn hasn’t changed, and that threatened to thrust me back into the painful past. If there was a historical marker detailing the events of my yard during my marriage, it would be a sad tale: It is on this property where disappointment, loneliness, and hurt feelings were prevalent. Dreams of spending weekend afternoons planting, maintaining, and beautifying the land together died on the vine.
In reality, I mowed the lawn most weekends of the first three years we lived in the house before I learned I was pregnant. Sitting around the fire-pit I picked out as a Mother's Day gift, my husband looked at me blankly when I talked about my participation in the lawn care four or five years earlier. He had no recollection of my contribution.
I felt invisible where our yard was concerned in other instances. The shrubs along our front porch were past their prime. One weekend my husband’s coworker, who had access to a bobcat, pulled up to our house, unloaded the machinery, attached a chain to the dried up shrubbery, and yanked it out. We had had no prior conversations, and there were no plans for what would replace the old shrubbery. My husband covered the now-bare space with excess rock from the landscaping in the backyard, and for a time, our curb appeal was improved. It was less cluttered, but days later, my husband lost his job, and so there were no funds to fill in the empty space.
I think of these things as I finish mowing the front yard and move to the back. By this time, I feel sick to my stomach. The backyard is an overgrown jungle of tree-like weeds. I am reminded that this backyard is now MY RESPONSIBILITY ALONE, and I want to weep. In the nearly 15 years I have lived here, there has never been money enough to correct the problems. I am embarrassed by the mess and the fact that it is in such a sad state.
It was suggested last year that when my budget isn’t so tight that I should probably hire a lawn care service since I can't handle it on my own. This assessment knocked the wind out of me. I'm handling it now, I shot back, hurt that my efforts weren't recognized or encouraged.
I criss-cross the backyard and began to fantasize about what it would be like to hire the service. I could sell myself on both sides of the issue. If I have it done for me, it would save me time and mental energy, not to mention, physical energy. I will have more free time to write, and there's no doubt my lawn will look better if someone else takes it over.
On the other hand, I would feel frustrated for not doing it myself. I have a strong, healthy body, and I should be doing the work. It's an integral part of homeowner-ship and pride of place. Why should I spend extra money when it's something I could do myself? If I kept at it, I'd get to experience the sense of accomplishment when I mad improvements and know that I did the work.
I want to prove to myself that I can do this on my own. Cue my pioneer spirit and stubbornness.
I turned off the mower and pushed it back into the shed, still unresolved. I considered asking someone what I should do, and then I remembered. This is my decision. I do not need to rely on someone else to answer for me.
I will weigh the pros and cons and after I have done that, I will know which decision to make. In the meantime, I felt heavy, sad, and overwhelmed. What will be the best course for me to take?