A year ago November, a few weeks after the presidential election, my husband and I planned a day to finally turn a downed tree in our yard into fuel for our wood stove.
While he cranked up the chainsaw to cut the tree into manageable chunks, I hooked up the hitch to my car and went off to rent a log splitter. My mind was churning, my spirit was not in this task. The gray day had a raw chill that matched my mood.
I stood in line with the other Saturday DIYers, and felt somehow, as a woman, I had something to prove. Like I needed to make myself bigger than my medium frame. Everyone around me was friendly and/or sleepy, but I felt on guard. I was glad that I “knew the drill” in this male-dominated store.
I took instructions on how to use the splitter, got it attached to the car, and drove home. Once in the driveway, I realized it would be best to back up to the spot where we’d be doing the work. My husband motioned for me to get out of the car so he could take over. I shook my head, no.
To be fair, he was only going on what he knew — I’d always deferred to him to “drive the big things” (e.g. moving van) and maneuver heavy equipment. He approached me, confused. “I’ll back it up,” he said, opening the car door. I grabbed the handle and pulled the door shut. “It’s okay,” I said. “I can do it.” There was no way I was getting out of that driver’s seat.
It’s not exactly docking a space shuttle, but I was proud that I had (basically) conquered the life skill that is trailer-backing. It was my sister-in-law who had taken the time to teach me. We were towing a small boat around the playground that is Maine, and with the kids in the back of the car, she pulled into a parking lot and patiently walked me through the ins and outs of trailer maneuvering.
I shimmied that log splitter into perfect position, and then set it up and got it running. My husband nodded, hiding a grin, and we got to work. My goal for the day: not to be the one to stop first. Again, this was all coming from me. But I felt like I had something to prove. Like I was representing all women as sweat poured off me, as I kept going, even when I was tired. Even when the pile of logs seemed to be growing rather than shrinking. I kept working.
I will always be for human beings helping each other out, and a man offering to help a woman is not a bad thing! I’m not saying that. I’m saying: let’s be ready to acknowledge and encourage the power someone else may already hold. Friends, let’s dig deep and remember our own strength. Let’s share what we know, teach one another about it, and spread confidence out into the world.
Stop letting other people back up the trailer for you. You can do it!