Like everyone else under the sun, I have some talents. Unfortunately, the list of shortcomings is equally long. I can craft a sentence better than I can bake a pie. I’m good at teaching a preschool-aged grandson, but abysmal at algebra. I can read between the lines but struggle with . . . well, you get the idea.
In a long-term relationship, ideally the competencies of the partners begin to complement each other. I’ll decode the operation of the washing machine if he’ll empty a mouse trap. He’ll be in charge of oil changes if I’ll do the gift buying. Sometimes the division of labour is negotiated; sometimes it happens by default. It’s wonderful and, well, efficient to have someone to share duties with. There’s a partnership, a synergy and sharing that nurtures each party.
In a perfect world, both would try and learn and persevere and be supported, thereby broadening their own range of skills. In reality, It’s much easier to grow reliant on the other. Why do I have to know the Honda’s tire pressure when That’s always been Roy’s department? Why should he learn how to cook when he’s got me?
But every so often it doesn’t hurt to be tested. To be reminded that ultimately we are in it alone; that we need strength and resources to carry on by ourselves. We can’t become paralyzed or a quivering mess when we’re called to bat. We may prefer to share the load, but we must be capable of going it alone if we have to.
It’s only when push comes to shove that we’re forced to see what we’re made of. There’s an old saw about a woman being ?like a teabag; you don’t know how strong she is until She’s in hot water.? I’m sure we’ve all found it to be true.
While Adele might have had love gone wrong as the theme in her song ?Turning Tables,? I love some of the lyrics for my own reasons. Every time I hear her sing, ?Next time I’ll be braver/I’ll be my own saviour/Standing on my own two feet,? I feel strong, empowered, and proud of what I can take on by myself. Yes!
I was reminded of all this recently when Roy was trucking 12 hours a day and we were at a critical time in our renovations. I may not have the title (or the pay), but I have been the de facto general contractor on this job. I rose to the challenge by picking up appliances, driving all over tarnation, going to the landfill, scheduling the workmen, staying a few steps ahead of the game, and juggling a million details. All this insight reminded me to be grateful for his help when I have it and proud of myself when I don’t. That’s standing on my own two feet, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.