Capable

by - February 04, 2016


I am capable.

This is something I occasionally have to remind myself.

Years ago during the baby-making months, I wasn't allowed to do things like lift heavy weights, change the cat litter, eat lunch meats, float down a river in an inner-tub or stand on ladders. I also put pottery on hold during my pregnancies out of fear of the possible effects of the glaze and clay dust. Near the end of one pregnancy, I decided to install a shower hook in the bathroom using a power drill. I lost balance and smashed my thumbnail with the drill bit. I'm lucky I didn't drill right through my finger! I decided at that point I should probably avoid the power tools while pregnant too. I grew used to the limitations if not even a tad lazy, and it took maybe two years to think, "Oh geeze, why am I not helping move that heavy piece of furniture? Why am I letting the grandparents do that?" Sure, I had been toting around kids on my hip for a couple years and had never really quit laboring at the garden, but I'd forgotten that I was strong and capable.

And as the baby fog lifted, while I'd been building a honey-do list, and Joe had been chipping away at it, slowly I started building a "do it myself" list, because there is so much I can do. It sounds silly typing it, but I can fire my own kiln, I can replace the air filters, I can dig holes for trees, I can dig up and move trees, I can use the power tools to build things out of wood, I can find the studs in the walls to hang heavy things, and now, I can change out a light fixture - wiring and all. My capability doesn't diminish my husband's work around here... he is way more handy than most. He changed out the breaks and flushed the lines on our vehicles, he's replaced the capacitor on the AC unit twice, and he actually dug up and repaired the water line running to our house when it sprung a leak. I'm sure he has saved us thousand of dollars in maintenance and repair costs. All I'm saying is that he makes it easy to default to when it comes to all things with wires or moving parts, but it's good for my brain and confidence to try new things that I might just tack onto his list. It might take me longer sometimes to figure it out, but figure it out I will (thought in my best Yoda voice).

This relates back to parenting as well. It is good for kids to learn to do things that would naturally default to the parents. When they are little, the new tasks are picking out clothes and tying shoe laces. As they get older they are getting their own snacks and drinks or preparing a meal. Eventually the tasks will be changing the oil on a car or repairing the vacuum cleaner (Joe did this for his mom). This builds them into people who are responsible, empowered and capable.

I loosely follow this rule:

Once you are able to do it on your own, I will no longer do it for you.

I say loosely because acts of service can communicate love, but generally it is a greater act of love to give them room to grow and allow their need for their parents to change.

This morning my oldest snuggled into bed with me. As I wrapped my arms around him and my fingertips could barely reach his fingertips when we both outstretched our arms. He is growing so fast and lanky and very capable. Last weekend, he watched me changing out that light fixture last weekend and hollered back at me as I flipped the switches on the circuit breaker to let me know when the lights were off. He saw me put the light up, take it down. Put it up, take it down. I fumbled with the chain. I think we both knew Daddy could do this much quicker. We agreed it would be smart to wait and finish in the morning when the sun was up. Once I was done capping the wires for the evening, he told me I should come rest on the couch, snuggle and watch tv with him, which I am quite capable of.

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