A year that goes beyond DIY

Last week the tire on my minivan that had been slowly leaking for a week or so finally got tired of my constant refilling and popped. Fortunately, just off the interstate was a tire shop. Unfortunately, the tire shop was chock full of the single reason we women hate going to auto shops-garden variety male chauvinists who earn an A+ for patronizing.

After a good 10 minutes of him lying to me (we don’t have air to fill your tire, it will be 1.5 hours for us to change into your spare, etc) I stormed walked off and, with the help of my 5 children, put my spare on. I left with a quick, “Just so you know, I go through about 6 tires a year, big mistake-big. Thanks for nothing asshole.” In my head it came out like a stronger version of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman but the way my face was distorted in anger and my breath constricted it probably came out a little less mentally stable.


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about other areas in my life that I’ve willingly given away my own agency. There are many perks to our culture’s specialization. We outsource everything from getting our oil changed to meal prep-we’ve talked ourselves into allowing “the experts” in each field to do for us what just the generation (or maybe 2 generations) ahead of us did themselves. In a lot of ways this is great-it allows people more time to work on their areas of expertise as well. But I can’t help but wonder if it’s not at least a bit detrimental to our health as a society as well. Simply put, for those of us who love The Walking Dead, most of us will die in hours should the zombie apocalypse happen. 😉

For me though, it was hard to coalesce the feminist in me who wanted to throw the man in the auto place on his back and tell him to go to hell (namaste as well, obviously) and the woman whose first instinct was to call her husband as if he-being 2 hours away-could make this all go away. How am I the woman who has no problem taking her 5 kids on solo road trips all of the time and also the woman who cried one dark, dark night after Zach had been gone for a week because I couldn’t get the wine bottle open?

I’ve decided that for the next year I’m going to start taking back a bit of my own agency. This isn’t about DIY-though I love the idea of that movement as well. This isn’t about craft projects or hobbies, I want this to be more about survival, home ownership-adulthood. It’s also not about things typically categorized as “male” or categorized as “female”. I have ideas on my list that could fall on both sides of that.

I have small things on my list (hang picture frames-don’t judge, I just always have Zach do it) but I also have big things (change the oil in my car, spend a full day/night on my own outside). I don’t know if you are like me at all but my nature is that if it scares me-don’t do it. If I won’t be immediately great at it-perhaps I just wasn’t meant to do it in the first place. My heart knows none of that is true but my head often easily wins and I’m just kind of tired of allowing it so quickly.

Here’s what I want from you-what are your ideas? Male or female what are the things that you wish you knew how to do or maybe are embarrassed that you always have someone do for you? While in Iowa this week I told a few of my good friends about this idea of mine and each one (male and female) was excited about it. They gave me some really great ideas as well. It helped me in numerous ways but perhaps most of all in knowing I’m not alone. Not alone in being a smart woman who is left befuddled at the mere sight of tangled TV cords but also not alone in wanting it all to change.

Obviously I will bring you along with me. If I know myself at all I know there will be loads of foul ups but also little and small victories-both celebrated equally and unnecessarily I’m sure.

So tell me, what should be on my list? What would be on your list? Email me tesileagh@gmail.com, no ideas are bad ideas. I’m excited and nervous but mostly excited. Also scared.

Let’s do it.

3 thoughts on “A year that goes beyond DIY

  1. This is a great post……I completely agree with this. When I got divorced, I realized I had to figure out how to do things on my own. Basically if it scared me I tried it…i still try to remind myself of this too keep trying, This mindset is actually how I talked myself into taking a rowing class on the Mississippi!!! I also decided I wanted to learn to rock climb…I may not be good at it but at least I tried. 🙂

  2. I love this! I asked my boyfriend to do something simple to my car and he said “What would your father say if you asked him to do this?” I said “Probably show me how to do one and then have me do the other” and he said “good!” and then I learned some car stuff. I also recently learned how to refill air in my tires and then perfected that skill at 11 PM after a wedding in a dress, in the dark, in the rain. (I can’t lie, when the light didn’t go off I called my dad and cried, and then it went off six seconds later…) I know that my boyfriend knows how to do certain things better than I do, so I default to him, even though he’d probably prefer I learn to do it myself 😀 Please PLEASE post your list. I’m sure it’s full of stuff I need to learn how to do also. I’m currently working on grilling steak.

  3. Tesi,
    I love this. Don’t judge, but I found myself with a dead car battery at a park. I looked around for a MAN to come help me. I couldn’t remember which color lead to do first. I have also never changed my own oil. I am thinking I need to have a girls night and have friends over and we can all learn some of these things.
    I hate changing my own tire, but finally this year learned how.Great job lady!!!
    Things I want to learn/do:
    oil change
    put new wiper blades on the car
    build something with wood
    buy the book Dare to Repair by Julie Sussman so if I want to fix something, i have the info in front of me. 🙂
    What I refuse to do:
    put my hand in the disposal to see what is making a noise. NOPE, still not something I choose to do. 😉

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