My wife wrote this post. I’m taking it as acknowledgement that I am occasionally useful.
I like to think of myself as a modern woman: a much softer and forgiving version of the radical feminists that grabbed headlines in the 1970’s. A woman who, while perfectly capable of maintaining complete independence, instead chooses to embrace the loving support of her family. A woman who kept her maiden name to demonstrate she doesn’t define herself by her relationship with her husband, or anyone else for that matter.
And then there are times that I realize I’m simply kidding myself. I’d actually be hard pressed to survive more than a week on my own.
These realizations generally come when an appliance breaks down, a particularly nasty bug crawls across the floor or a warning light comes on in my car. At these times, my first instinct is to call my husband for help. And I generally follow my instincts.
After the crisis that precipitated the distress call is addressed, my internal crisis begins and I wonder if I’m a hypocrite. This requires me to prove I am independent or at least capable of independence when required.
So, when I have the opportunity to prove that I am tough, I thoroughly embrace the challenge. That’s why I love shoveling snow.
Well, not love exactly. To be perfectly honest, I actually hate the actual act of shoveling snow. I hate the way my fingers and toes go numb after the first ten minutes of battling in the biting, wet cold. I hate the fact that by the time I’ve reached the bottom of the driveway, the rest of the driveway is covered and I have to do the whole thing over again. And most of all, I hate the plows that always manage to push snow off the street and right into my driveway, which, of course, requires more snow shoveling.
What I do love is the challenge and the accompanying sense of pride and accomplishment. Shoveling the driveway proves that I CAN take care of myself. And, in a moment of honest self examination, I even admit that I feel a bit superior to the neighbors who have given in to the lure of the gas guzzling snow blower to clean driveways that are no larger than mine. After all, who needs a snow blower when you’ve got strength and fortitude?
Last year, however, even my strength and fortitude wavered a bit. Despite my desire to prove I can conquer the driveway, the snowstorms of February 2010 almost conquered me. During those storms, my husband’s employer put him up in a hotel room in D.C to ensure he could be on the job as needed. So, while our two children and I were valiantly trying to clear the driveway of three feet of snow, he was sending me photos of what the hotel pool looked like in the snow. I think that gave me a bit of a license to complain. And complain I did.
But that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on snow shoveling. In fact, I’m actually beginning to embrace it as another form of exercise. This winter, I just wanted to ensure I was prepared for whatever Mother Nature brought. For me, that required the biggest snow shovel available.
And my husband obliged and added a shiny, gigantic snow shovel to the arsenal in the garage.
During the most recent round of bad weather, he made a point of joining me in our efforts to clear the driveway. I had grabbed the smaller shovel, but he picked up the larger shovel and handed it to me.
“That’s o.k,” I said. “This one is fine.”
“It’s fine,” he said, “but it’s not yours.” He handed me the new shovel, “This one is yours.”
My own personal snow shovel? What more could I ask for? If that’s not saying I’m a modern woman I don’t know what does.