lucky thirteen.

When I was eleven or so, my dad bought a riding lawnmower and presented it to me. “This is why we had you, so I don’t have to mow the lawn.” In case you can’t tell, my dad ascribed to the Bill Cosby School of Parenting. Before remote controls he made us get up and change the channel for him, too.

You could say that my first driving lessons were on a lawnmower. Saturdays were shaped by the rhythm of mowing an acre or so of land, making wide circles and listening to PFR cranked to eleven on my walkman so I could hear it. When Mike and I bought a house, I declared that I had mowed the grass enough already in my life and that it would be his job instead.

There might have also been some assumptions about gender roles that shaped my ideas about what we should be doing.

It’s a cliche that you don’t just marry the person, you marry the family. In my case, there were some ways that wasn’t exactly true, but we still carried expectations and experiences that shaped us more than we realized at the time. When Mike told me he had never mowed the grass because his dad never let him, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do. He figured it out, but I didn’t help him like I should have because I was clinging to certain ideas about the ways that we needed to act.

Over the weekend, Mike and I finally bought a new lawnmower. I think we bought a reel mower because I said I would help out more. We both liked the idea of something a little more environmentally sound. I liked the idea of not smelling like gasoline. He liked the idea of not having to do it all by himself.

Monday was our anniversary, and while Mike got Atticus ready for bed, I told him I would start mowing the front yard. An anniversary present of sorts. We all have our gifts and mine is not the part where we have to say goodnight to the world. Good night tall trees! Good night car that drove by our house! Good night screws in the window! Good night other car that drove by our house! No thank you, I would rather mow the grass even if it calls my maternal instinct into question.

If you want people to stare at you, I recommend mowing the grass with a reel mower. Men in pickup trucks slowed down to gape at me. A child stopped and yelled, What is she doing? Atticus was delighted. Come over here, Mama! The grass is coming out of the front!

I should mention that Mike brought Atticus outside to see me mowing the grass. They read stories while I pushed back and forth, back and forth. On Tuesday night at the pool, a friend of ours commended me for my work while also calling Mike’s manhood into question.

That equation is all wrong. Mike has taken on more and more of the cooking and the least I can do is help out with the yard work. Plus, it turns out I like a man who is okay with sitting on the porch with his son while his wife mows the grass. By my calculations, that guy is the best one there is.

For the record, I do like reading books with Atticus. It’s one of my favorite things. But I also like living in a house where he will learn that both mommies and daddies can cook and clean and mow the grass.

Those babies who got married thirteen years ago had no idea what they were doing, but by the grace of God and the courage or the luck or the wisdom of leaning in we are still doing this thing. Happy anniversary to my wonderful beautiful gorgeous family. I am the luckiest girl in the world.

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