Many people get want and need mixed up. There are things we want (to have, to happen, etc.) and there are things we need (to live).
We need oxygen, food, water, people, and shelter.
We want more.
I’m not saying it is wrong to want; I want just as much as the next person. Of course there are things I also don’t want (to have or do).
For example, we are all very aware of the epic snow that has plagued my little area of Kentucky. I need to be able to get out of my driveway and go to work so I can pay the bills for the food and shelter my son and I need. However I don’t want to dig the snow out by myself. I’m not saying this because I’m lazy or weak. I don’t want to because I know there are physical consequences for doing that kind of manual labor (for me). I used to lift 50 lb. bags of horse feed before I received an injury from a horse-riding accident. I pack a 30 lb. kid around often. I’m not afraid of that kind of labor.
I also don’t want to balance on top of an eight foot ladder holding a heavy drill with one hand while trying to hold a screw in place with the other, all the while there is a toddler trying to “help” mommy hang the curtains.
Now, here is the part where I am probably going to piss off a few feminists. It’s not that I can’t do these things. After all, my driveway is shoveled (with the help of my neighbors and some Aleve) and my curtains are hung (with great amount of cursing in the process). It’s that I shouldn’t have to. It is at times like these that I resent my ex-husband for being, well my EX-husband. He is a handyman, and a really talented one at that. He is also very physically able. It was always his responsibility to do these types of things around the house, mainly because he was better at it. (Note: if you look at my curtains you can tell they are crooked, and I don’t give a damn. They’re up!) But that would drive him crazy, and he enjoyed doing handy-stuff like that.
So now it is all my responsibility to do all of it. That may come off sounding whiny, but think of it this way. I (and other single moms) go from having a man around the house to help with the more difficult tasks to doing everything on my own/with the help of friends. It can be unsettling and scary. What if you can’t do it? If I couldn’t get my car out to go to work then I am putting my job on the line which jeopardizes my stability as a parent. If I can’t provide the shelter and food my son needs, then how am I being a good mom?
I asked him for help with the snow…he wasn’t able to. And whatever the reason was it doesn’t matter. I then had a choice, dig myself out or risk my job. I chose the physical strain of shoveling over letting it melt and risking my job. I can do what needs to happen.
I also realize it was my choice to file for divorce. I didn’t want to, but it was necessary at the time. Tears as well as ink signed those papers. As time progressed I struggled with my decision, but I see that I was right in following that course. It has been a rocky path getting to an okay place. I know I’ll be disappointed if I ask my ex to help with anything unless I beg or negotiate. I guess he likes to think I need him? I don’t know.
I’ve struggled not only with wants and needs, but also with identity. This is a whole other post, but I am so relieved to hear someone close to me tell me that I back to myself. I asked her, because she knows me incredibly well –has for years- and has worked with me closely for the past several months in helping me arrive to a healthy me again. I’m happy I’m me. I need it.