It’s go time. That’s what the writing on my shirt read today when I mowed the lawn. That’s right.
This one time in high school, my dad made me mow the lawn, because he’s a good dad. All girls should learn how to do those ‘boy’ things, like changing the oil in the car, and mowing the lawn, and building furniture, and sawing boards, and hammering, and lifting heavy weights. Because this world is full of adventurous tales, any person should be willing to try any task at any time. So that one time I helped change the oil, switched out the tires on the car, helped build a pool deck, painted rooms, and mowed the lawn. I hated mowing the lawn.
I haaaaaated tugging that ridiculous cord thing over and over and over again to no avail. Just a tip, don’t make a girl tug on something over and over and over again or she will walk away. That’s a life lesson. Freebie.
But once I got the mower going, I mowed in straight lines and finished up the job, vowing that my job in life would be to not ever mow again, and the guy I ended up with would know it was his job to mow, OR ELSE.
However. These past few weeks have been rough. With summer gaining the heavy hand, my hurricane toddler able to talk back and come out of bed swinging, and with the shifting of schedules as school begins, I’ve literally lost my footing. After tripping over a cord of annihilation at the park, my hands have hurt all week, as well as my right leg, and I had to quit a workout early because I couldn’t bear the weight on my limbs. Bruises abound, inward and outward, but it’s time to get up. It’s go time.
Are you there? Are you fighting it too? Are you overshadowed, roughed up, and absorbing the thick humidity of the earth?
We watched the movie Creed last night. Since getting married, I’ve watched way more boxing movies than I ever imagined I would. Sometimes I enjoy them. I liked “Here Comes the Boom,” with Kevin James, and “Warrior,” with Tom Hardy. How do they get their neck muscles so bulgy? Anyway. What’s amazing about boxing is that these guys KNOW they are about to get hit. They’re swinging. They’re ducking. They’re dodging. They’re getting smacked in the face; they are pummeled by punches. And they get up when they fall down. They’re motivated to get up as fast as they can, or else the other guy gets the round, or even the whole shebang. Ain't nobody wanna lose the whole shebang.
As a girl growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I was taught that girls—proper girls—didn’t get their hands dirty or swear or sweat hard or wear too low-cut shirts. Proper girls walk gracefully, wrap their children in loving embraces with their soft hands caressing their children’s smooth, shiny, tendril-like hair, in their jean pencil skirts, while sewing jumpers for the family and matching everyone accordingly, right before cooking a homemade meal and tucking everyone, washed and dried, into crisp, neat beds that had been made that morning.
I’ve never one day of my life been able to be a proper girl.
And now that I’m in my thirties, feeling like maybe I’m doing everything wrong, because I use a Roomba instead of vacuuming, order pizza like a boss, love a heavy workout, and can’t sew clothing to save my life, I’m realizing I’m going to have to adjust my strategy. I have to take out the freaking trash. Almost every day. I have to gas up my car. I have to brush the kids’ hair, even if they scream. I have to dig in, carry on, push harder, climb higher, and walk onward, even when I don’t want to, even when it hurts, and even when I vowed I wouldn’t do it. I have to get up. I'm a mom. I'm human. I'm here, filling this space. So are you.
The getting up is the harder part of the falling down, yeah? Falling down is basically easy. You just allow gravity to win. The getting up, that’s the part where YOU fight the laws of nature, and overcome. Getting out of bed in the morning, standing from a sitting position, starting a new race, a new challenge, a new day, that’s sometimes the hardest part, because it’s engaging forward movement.
Sometimes even forward movement feels like a standstill. That standstill is where I’ve been treading these last few weeks, repeating the same thing at the same time with the same people and the same naptime and the same children who want the same cartoons and the same nonsensical language and the same stores in the same streets and the same samishly sameness of samity.
The thought of rolling out of bed yesterday almost seemed too much. I ate a plate of egg whites, two chocolate poptarts and a bag of Pirate’s Booty for brunch, along with three cups of coffee. I put my hurricane down for a nap ten minutes early. Both children went to bed half an hour early at night. I walked on a treadmill for forty minutes then got a movie from Redbox. And through it all, my palms and shin ached. And I need to potty train the toddler. Dead. Yall. YALL. #boring #thisisit
So this morning, when the hubs sighed and moaned, “I have to mow the laaaawn.” I put down my cup of coffee and was like, “I’ll do it.”
Yeah I did. I mowed that lawn like a boss. There are rules for mowing lawns, and you want straight lines and watch out for sticks and don’t go backwards and don’t cut off any limbs. Screw it. I’ve been editing papers and novels and eating a lot of salad and drinking a lot of water and walking 10,00 steps everyday and driving the speed limit and showing up places on time and wearing makeup and clean underwear and screw rules. I yanked that lawn mower all over that lawn, because tree roots, yall. And pot holes. Our yard stinks. We got weeds and random bricks buried in the ground and awful divots and I found this mega-long vine thing, I think it was lettuce. Yall, I think I was growing lettuce in my yard. Don’t care. Mowed it down.
Mowing the lawn took over two sweaty hours, tidal waves of salty water pouring into my eyes and down into my socks. Don’t care. My hands, they are numb sacks of squishy soreness now. Thumbs won’t stop shaking. Don’t care. Mowed that lawn like a boss, yo. Fist bump; let it explode.
One of my friends ran by on her Saturday jog. I waved with a big, goober-y smile. I weren’t none embarrassed. Many people over the years have helped us with our lawn, being some awesome friends from church and my brother-in-law. Bless them and their putting up with our stupid, holey lawn. (It’s a very large lawn.) Single mom friends who do this all the time, you rock. Way. To. Rock. It. Most of my neighbors pay someone with a trailer and a riding mower to landscape. All those guys who whip out their trailers and forage through the neighborhoods, you change lives and you don’t even know it. My next door neighbor probably puts everybody to shame—she’s in her plus seventies and mows her lawn every other week, all by her onesie. She inspires me. She inspired me this morning. If she can do it, so can I.
See, I wasn’t afraid of mowing the lawn, I just didn’t want to do it. Don’t let those self-imposed limits stop you. If you’re feeling the pain of falling down, or even sitting down, well my friend, get up, and do something you think you don’t want to do. Maybe I was afraid. Afraid of getting dirty, of having to wash grass out of clothing afterwards….maybe even of getting really sweaty (I’m lazy, yall), maybe trepidation hunkered into the picture, dressed as snobbery. But it was a limit and I thought I was too good for it. You’re never too good to explore. Exploration is what brings the adventure back to your own realm. Rule your realm, make your own rules, and knock it out. Get up. Fight for your life. Fight for what you want. Fight for what you don’t know you want. Fight for the adventurous spirit within that crippled soul of yours. You are magnificent. Maybe it will take getting sweaty and dirt-covered to find the strength, the fire, that you need. Don’t be afraid of the dirt, or the rocks, or the maybe-lettuce. Don’t be afraid to make a fool out of yourself. Ain’t no real rules for mowing, anyway. It’s cutting grass.
If you need a takeaway on how your creator feels on this issue, here’s one: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9b). I mean, it was said to Joshua, but I think it applies to us as well. God doesn’t need quivering ninnies. He can use them, but it’s easier when we’re willing to get up and get our hands dirty.
Maybe you need to learn how to sew, to cook homemade meals, to brush your children’s hair (no judgement), or wear higher cut necklines. Maybe you need to take out the trash, change the oil in the car, fix a flat tire, or build something with splintery boards. Maybe you need to get your hands dirty. You probably do.
Let’s do it. Like a boss, son.
I’m right there with you, and, if you notice, your patient Creator is too. There it is, in the way the wind lifts the sweat from your neck, and in the hushed quiet of the evening sunset, in the soulful hug embracing you, to the spoken words and inspiring actions, and in the way your lungs continue to fill with air. It’s in the getting up. Time to crawl, time to scrape those knees up from the dirt, time to swing those fists. It’s go time.
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