Have you ever had a relationship that you just put up with because, well, you are simply that kinda gal, committed to the end? Ever found yourself making excuses for your partner’s behavior, towards you or others? Or for their general lack of commitment or energy? I have.
Recently, I had a relationship end because the other party just quit. I had put years into this relationship, doing all kinds of things to make it work. Then suddenly, it ended. I felt instant grief, sadness, and, a surprising amount of relief. That relief demanded action and, yes, I immediately started a new relationship, one that better suited my needs.
I went right out, my husband by my side, and bought a new shiny lawn mower.
Yes, the relationship I am describing was with my mower. This may seem trite, but bare with me, The mower was originally bought at Walmart over 10 years ago. It was on sale at the end of the season, chipped and dented. In many of my relationships, I am drawn to another’s history of use, and the scars of a life already lived. It is not an accident that my husband is 15 years older than me -this is part of my physiological make-up: I am drawn to experience more than bright and shiny. That Walmart mower was perfect -it was used, but refurbished, and it’s $50 price tag fit our tight budget (with three teenagers and two adults under the roof, and only one primary earner, money was tight.)
For more than a decade, my relationship with this mower worked well enough, but it definitely was not easy. It took at least five pulls to get the engine started. The mower was rigidly set in it’s ways -only going forward, never circling or curving, with me pushing the whole way. I did my part to keep things functioning; I used decent gasoline and oil, got the blades replaced, scraped grass guck from under the deck. While the relationship was very one-sided, we did get stuff done. For over ten years, at two different houses and and also at an occasional friend’s place, lawns were kept tidy. Our relationship was basically useful, and being useful is one of my main goals in life. (Like being drawn to experience and scars, I did not pick usefulness as a life goal for myself, it just is.) The union was never a love match, more like a marriage of convenience, with me pushing and pulling my partner along.
And then it all stopped. On the morning of May 16, 2018, no matter what I did, that mower would not start. There was no response to my urgent ministrations, not a single sputter. Briefly, I thought about taking it to the shop for repair, but really? That seemed silly; I would be just putting off the inevitable. And there was grass to mow. And rain in the forecast. This was clear -I needed a new mowing partner and it needed it now.
Turns out, as committed as I thought I was to my old mower, I already had a list of things that I wanted in a new one. Easy start, reliable, front swivel wheels, mulching and option of bagging (my old previously owned mower came without a bag, probably part of the separation agreement). All plans for the day were put on hold as my husband and I went off in search of my perfect (and immediately available) mower.
Kevin’s first idea was to sit in front of the computer and find a good deal, but he gave in to my antsiness and we hit the road. I just knew the right one was out there waiting for me, and I had to find it. Now.
Three hours later, I was mowing with a beautiful shiny, brand new machine with easy start, swivel front wheels, mulch and bagging options, and gasp, self-propelled. The experience was amazing. Sure I was working, but this machine actually seemed to be working with me, urging me up hills, curving sweetly around tree bases, encouraging me to walk faster and stand straighter. While I do not know what the future holds, I am thoroughly enjoying this honeymoon period. Starting this relationship, I am as committed as ever to caring for my mower and my lawn, but this time, I am also committed to caring for my Self.
May all babies be born into loving hands