You may not know this about my mother, but she always has worn the tool belt in the family.  That’s right, when my brothers or my ex-husband have needed to borrow a tool – say, a bandsaw or something along those lines – they’d call and ask my mother, not my dad.

My mom tells the story like this – when we were little she and my dad bought a swing set for us kids – an assembly required, big ass swing set.  My dad was a busy guy.  He worked full time but also served on many boards, and was a town councilman for a few years. He did not have a lot of “free” time – you know, big-ass swing set assembly kind of time.

So the swing set sat out in the yard in pieces for I’m not sure how long. One day, my mom’s friend, Polly, came over. Talk about bad ass.  Polly did (and still does) it all.  She asked my mom what the deal was with the un-assembled swing set.  My mom explained that we were all waiting for my father to have the time to assemble it.

“Why the hell do you need him for that?” asked Polly, incredulously.

Why indeed?

So my mom and Polly dragged out whatever tools we had at the time (the collection of which has grown considerably since my mom started asking for power tools for birthdays, etc.) and they put the big ass swing set together themselves.

This was when a lightbulb went off in my mother’s head…

I can do whatever the hell I put my mind to doing.

So she bought a book titled something like “How to Fix Just About Anything” and she started doing things like wiring, plumbing, tiling floors, refinishing furniture…

One day I came home to a crashing noise upstairs.  As I climbed the stairs and started down the hall, I realized the sound was coming from my bedroom.  I walked in to find her in my closet, blasting a hole through the wall with a sledgehammer. She peeked her smiling face through the jagged hole in the sheet rock like Jack Nicholson breaking through the bathroom door in “The Shining”

Heeeere’s Mommy!

She sweetly said, “This closet is just taking up space in your room.”

“Oh.”

I mean, what does one say in that situation?

Um…thanks?

The girls and I went over to make dinner at my mother’s the other night. She knew we were coming, and the girls ran out of the car into the yard to find her when we arrived. There was evidence of her hard work everywhere (fresh mulch, yard tools…) but she was nowhere in the yard. I could see Beau getting a little nervous. Since my dad died six months ago, she is always worried that my mom will be soon to follow. (I like to blame this kind of paranoia on my kids, because of course it never is a worry of mine.)

Well, it turns out she was just in the shower. She emerged a while later and announced, “You know it has been a good day when you have needed to take two showers.”

(Meaning – you got good and dirty.)

God, I love this woman.

And so, whenever I fix things, use tools of any kind…whenever I do something myself that I initially felt I might need a man to do for me…

I think of my mother.

When my girls dance in the mud, create, invent, repair, risk…

I think of my mother.

I know they will be strong women,

Brave women,

Women who are not afraid to put together big ass swing sets.

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