Sunday, 18 May 2014

Empowering yourself after divorce

I have just bought a new lawnmower. It has made me happy.

I realise that this is not a typical entree to a female blog post. Substitute 'lawnmower' for 'handbag' or 'maxi dress', and you might not have blinked.  But this lawnmower has highlighted a really good thing about living on my own.

The mower used to be my ex-husband's department. Oh - I would mow the lawn (of course!) but if anything went wrong with it, or I was pathetic enough not to be able to start it, then my husband would appear like the shop keeper in Mr Ben. "Leave it to me. Fixing things is MAN'S WORK."

After we'd separated and I moved house, I somehow brought two mowers with me; the monster petrol mower which smoked like a chimney and was hellish to start, and a very old electric mower which had blades as blunt as spoons.

I'd been nowhere near the petrol mower as I feared I might manage to ignite myself with it, so I'd been mowing the lawn with the blunt electric one. I might as well have got down on my hands and knees and chewed the grass - it would have been quicker.

I was nervous about buying a new mower. Because buying tools is MAN'S WORK.  Just like I was nervous about buying a TV, and this tiny notebook computer.  But listen ladies; I've realised something. That men actually don't know much more than us about technical stuff. How can they? Technology is changing so rapidly that they couldn't possibly keep up - unless they watch The Gadget Show on loop. (I'll admit here that lawnmower technology might not be moving quite as quickly as TV gadgetry, and that my argument stalls a bit.)

Anyway, I did the research and bought a mower at a reasonable price and guess what? IT ONLY MOWS THE BLOODY LAWN!  I can't believe it - it actually cuts the grass, rather than just wrapping it around the blades and pulling it, a bit like a lazy spaghetti eater.

So I'm really rather pleased with myself. And I'm using this lawnmower moment as a metaphor for something bigger.

I wouldn't class myself as a hardened feminist, but it's important for women to not be scared of having a go. Don't know how to change a lightbulb? Ask someone! (Preferably someone who won't laugh too long and too hard.)  Printer broken? Call up the support number, and if it can't be fixed, buy a new one! Do the research first and find a good one. When you bring it home, follow the instructions and install it yourself.

You certainly can teach an old dog new tricks if the old dog wants to learn them. And it's incredible how empowering it feels when you realise that you can do all of these things. Quite easily, actually.

So what's next? I really should learn how to change an inner tube so that, when I next get a puncture, I don't have to rely on the good heart of a passing motorist to give me a lift. And the other thing I'm going to do is go abroad and drive on the wrong side of the road. The right side of the road. You know what I mean. Previously, this was MAN'S WORK and, as a consequence, I'm scared sh*tless of doing it.

Donc. Je vais au St Malo pour conduire comme un idiot.

Adieu, mes amies... à tout à l'heure.


  1. Well done! When I left my ex, my next two homes were both places that had a lawn service. I was too intimidated to do it myself, even though I only had a small patch of grass. But now I've remarried, I was the one who picked the mower, and I'm generally the one who cuts it. Not because I have to - my husband would gladly do it. But because I can - and I want to.

    1. YES! Thanks so much for commenting. Strange that a lawnmower, of all things, can be a tool, milestone, benchmark - or whatever we want to call it - for moving on. Hope your lawn is lovely. Sadly mine is full of moss :-)

  2. Found your blog completely by accident - love it!! I'm still chewing my lawn up with my little electric mower, as I'm still too afraid to go for a petrol one. My scariest thing was buying a hammer drill and taking 5 weeks to summon the courage to have a go! I did, and can happily live with the wicked holes and mess behind the paintings! :) Moving on in womanly singleness is full of challenges to say the least. :/

    1. Hi Rose - thanks so much for commenting! And good luck with the hammer drill - sounds scary to me. I take my hat off to you! xx


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