I’m starting a new series today and would like to introduce you to Student Mama who writes over at Little Skool Girl blog. Student Mama is close to finishing her bachelor’s degree in business, is in her mid-twenties and has been separated from her husband (Freckles) for five months or so. They were married for about five and a half years and have a five year old daughter.
Student Mama says she still has a way to go on her journey but even this short period of being alone has taught her to be more independent and yes, that does include changing light bulbs! Here’s Student Mama.
I moved out of my mom’s house right into my husband’s house and so I didn’t have a lot of independence going into my marriage. Changing smoke detector batteries may seem small but for me it was a big deal and it seemed so overwhelming. That’s when I realized I needed to change my mindset. This is it. I am a grown up. I have a daughter.
I have to change to be more stable. I’ve always had somebody taking care of me. I’ve always had somebody following my every whim, everything I needed. All of a sudden it was me. I had to be the person that did that and it was very challenging and emotionally trying. At the same time, my confidence has grown and I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish.
Changing light bulbs was a big one – the whole ladder thing. I’m really, really small and so anything having to do with getting up on anything is a big deal. Our ladder wasn’t big enough and me getting up in our vaulted ceilings trying to change light bulbs just became a big hassle. Couple that with a five-year old running round the ladder and it becomes overwhelming to do something that should be simple.
The smoke detector was also a challenge. Not only was it beeping at me, I didn’t have the right battery and it was icy outside and I had no intention of getting in the car with a five-year-old and going to the store at 10 o’clock at night. It was in the middle of finals week so it got done a couple of days later but it was a big effort.
The smoke detector was a turning point for me. Freckles had been coming over and doing things for me but he put his foot down with the smoke detector and said, “I’m not doing this for you.”
It was so easy before for me to say, “I don’t have time for that,” because there was somebody there to pick up the slack. Having to step up to the plate has helped me gain confidence. Instead of thinking, “How am I ever going to do this?” I’ve adopted this attitude lately of, “I don’t know, but I’m just going to do it,” which is funny because usually I worry about everything.
I had to chuckle when Student Mama told me about the light bulb. It seems so many of us have a light bulb moment after divorce. I’ve certainly had mine. Even this weekend I was cursing the electrician who installed my under cabinet lights in the kitchen so the light bulb socket was facing the wall and I couldn’t see where the new bulb went. I had to get a mirror in the end and the bulbs were the halogen ones that you can’t touch with your hands – the rag I was using made it almost impossible to see what I was doing in the mirror!
Then I got thinking how amazing it is that these small household chores can give us disproportional boosts in confidence. Similar to how the final decision to divorce can sometimes be triggered by just one word or incident, changing a light bulb can convince you, that you really can manage without your spouse. For me, it was figuring out how to use the electric drill.
Shortly after I bought my new house, I installed a lock-box for the door key by the garage door. I wanted the contractor to be able to come and go and I also knew I wanted to keep a key there for my kids to use. The problem was I couldn’t drill the holes deep enough so the screws wouldn’t go all the way in. It didn’t really matter because the lock-box was staying on the wall and it closed but I knew it wasn’t right. Not to worry. Some months later, I was working on another task – installing a curtain rod in my daughter’s bedroom and that was when I discovered … OK, don’t laugh, … that the drill had a forward and a reverse gear! OK … go ahead, you can laugh – I did. No wonder all these men make it look so easy! It is easy when you have it in the right gear. Took me no time at all to fix that lock box and WOW, was that empowering.
Was there a home maintenance task that made you believe in yourself?