Growing up, daddy cut the grass. End of story.
He would even cut the neighbor’s grass if they needed help (or weren’t keeping their grass tidy enough to suit him).
I was a girl and too precious or perhaps too weak to do such things. It was dangerous. My brother couldn’t do it because he wouldn’t do it right.
When I left home and married, my husband cut the grass. It was well known that I had no experience with lawn care and was intimidated by it, having been told it was dangerous my whole life. My husband liked doing it well enough and did a great job.
Then I got divorced. This is when I realized an expectation men have for one another of which I’d been previously oblivious. I mean I knew females are to be guarded by their fathers (or by their brothers if daddy’s not around) until they are married at which time responsibility for their care is transferred to their husbands. I just didn’t know the common measure of this care is predominantly lawn maintenance. Come to think of it though, I remember that the state of my lawn was considered a reflection on my husband’s general aptitude.
After the divorce, my daddy reclaimed responsibility for awhile. Then he spent some time working on teaching me how to do it myself. I shed more than a few tears as I learned I was ill equipped to handle the terrain of my steep back yard or trouble shoot problems with weed-eater strings or engines that didn’t always start right away or stay running.
Friends encouraged me to find someone to pay to do it. I don’t know if it was that I was too poor or too proud. The neighbor men all felt very sorry for me. To other men, mowing my own yard screamed “she ain’t got no man” louder than any other activity I encountered. Some kindly offered help, I usually declined. The one time I accepted, I did so hatefully, and then I cried. The poor man was trying to do me a favor not embarrass me, make me feel helpless, or come on to me, but my ego was so fragile and confused that I could hardly bear the kindness.
My ex husband fully expected anyone I dated to tale care of my lawn for me. This made me very angry. I felt like my ex had somehow assumed the role of father-in-law. He had handed his property rights over to another man who wasn’t taking care of it. I belonged to myself, and I didn’t want anyone to think otherwise.
I never asked the man I was seeing at the time for help with the yard, and he certainly never offered. Of course, he couldn’t even keep his own lawn mowed. Why would I expect him to mow mine? His women mowed his yard. Once upon a time, I think he mowed his own grass, and I know he wanted to still. But by the time our messy lives converged, his back was broken down as was his lawn mower and his spirit. His mother and his baby’s momma did whatever mowing got done. I think a bush hog might’ve been needed at one point. My daddy did an impressive job of keeping silent on the subject, but no words were needed to know what he thought.
Eventually I got to the point that I could do a passable job of taking care of it myself with just a little help from daddy here and there. Mowing made me feel more hopeful about my future than practically any other single activity. If I could keep my lawn mown without a husband, then I’d be ok come hell or high water.
And then I met a man unlike any I’d ever met before. This man didn’t even have a lawn. He had thoughtfully kept his world very simple until he met me and hadn’t mown grass since high school. We fell in love in the winter, and by spring he was asking to mow the lawn. Now he knew I COULD do it myself. He knew I HAD done it myself. But he wanted to make my life easier. It was very difficult for me to accept his kind offer at first because letting someone take care of you is a very vulnerable thing to do.
He wanted to make my life easier AND a part of him wanted people to see him taking care of me. He knew that, in man code, taking care of my yard meant he was my man. So when I was ready to let all the men know I was claimed, I let him mow the grass.
Daddy hasn’t touched the yard this year. Sometimes I let my man do all the mowing and just make sure I get him some ice water when it’s hot. But he also understands that occasionally I NEED to mow the front yard. it’s level and just enough to make me proud of myself without causing me to cry. It reminds me that I CAN take care of myself, but gratefully I don’t always have to.
I let him put a ring on my finger the other day, and after the mowing is all done this year, we’re going to be husband and wife. But even before the ring, I already knew I was his woman and so did every other woman at JCPenney. He let me pick out his clothes.