This post was written by School Mum contributor Carolyn Tate
I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty independent sort of woman. I have my own career, pump my own petrol and can dispose of a cockroach if I have to. But it wasn’t until my husband went overseas for a couple of weeks that I realised just how much our house has been divided up into gendered roles.
Within hours of him being gone, there was a massive storm that broke the latch on a window in my son’s room. Not such a big deal, except that while the storm raged on outside, I couldn’t keep the damn thing shut, and my son’s room was getting drenched.
I had a latch and a screwdriver, but no screws to secure it to the window, so I did what any resourceful person would do: I tied it shut with one of my good silk scarves.
(If I was being perfectly honest I would admit it was a gift and I don’t like it that much anyway.)
But the main thing is that I solved the problem. The window stopped flapping about and the storm stopped drenching my son’s bedroom.
Then the next morning on the way to dropping my kids off at school and kindy, I drove over a large screw (could have used that yesterday!) and it lodged itself in my car tyre. A good Samaritan who stopped to see if I was okay summed up my situation pretty neatly.
“You can either leave it in and watch your tyre go down slow, or you can take it out now and watch it go down fast.”
I elected the slow option. I finished my drop offs and then called a roadside assistance service to come and change my tyre. My skills don’t go so far as to tyre changes, but I sure can dial a phone.
The guy who changed my tyre told me the damaged one wasn’t totally dead. I could have it repaired, he said, and it would be good as new.
Repaired? Where on earth would I do that?
I’m still not sure but the tyre is still sitting in my boot, waiting for my husband to take it somewhere or other to get that sorted when he gets back.
And then – because we all know good stuff comes in threes – that night, I awoke with a start around 2am to a strange noise. I strained my ears as I tried to work out what had woken me up. Just as I gave up and was drifting back off to sleep, there it was again.
Apparently my smoke alarm battery was going flat, and I was getting that intermittent reminder chirp they are so cleverly programmed with. Problem was, there are four smoke alarms in my house, and I had no idea which one was making the noise.
Trying to get to it before it woke my kids, I crept around the house, standing underneath each alarm for what seemed like ages until I heard another chirp and realised I was at the wrong one. Finally, at the last smoke alarm, the chirp went off directly overhead.
Except then I had no idea what to do about it. I didn’t have a spare battery on hand, and I really needed for this thing to shut up.
So again, I solved the problem, probably not in the correct way, but it did the trick. I bashed the alarm with a broom until it fell open and stopped making noise.
It’s not permanently damaged, but it’s stopped making the noise.
I’ve been out and bought a replacement battery, so I’m patting myself on the back about that. The rest can wait until my husband gets home. We’ve got three other alarms that are in perfect working order, so I think we’ll be okay.
The rest of the time has been pleasantly event-free, and I’m hoping it stays that way until my husband gets back to face the list of tasks I’ve created for him.
So here’s what I learned while my husband was away: I can manage. Whatever life throws at me, it might not be pretty, but I can manage just fine. But in the meantime, maybe I need to practice some of those life skills a little more.