I feel so empowered when I put something together with my own “girl” hands: to read and understand an instruction manual, to locate the right screws (and, by a stroke of luck, they are all there), and to watch an object take shape before my very eyes, with my very own hands, just like the picture in the manual.
As a single mom, I spend a lot of time assembling things: my chaotic day, the kids’ schedules, the turkey on top of the cheese, inside the bread. In fact, I would say that a good portion of my day is spent on some type of figurative assembly line. Most of the time the things I put together turn out fine. Sometimes they topple down, or are screwed in the wrong way. My first impulse – which oftentimes turns to panic – is to find a man, any man, to help me fix the mistake. Or pay the neighbor’s kid. Pride usually prevents me from taking the next step, and I trudge on, full of internal motivational speeches and a little bit of dread. But when my work is finally produced, I’m elated.
I wish I could find joy in disassembling things, but it just feels sad. Like packing up after a nice vacation or putting away the Christmas ornaments, there is a heaviness that comes with the undoing. I recently had to “undo” a dog: give her away to a foster home because, after a year, I could not control her. Same with my marriage, which I played a role in taking apart, day by day, until all the pieces were left on the floor, scattered and unrecognizable. Disassembling takes work and energy, and the hardest part is that there is no clear sunny horizon, no promise that the undoing was for a reason. No guarantee that what was just taken apart will be replaced with a better model, a workable product, a happier outcome.
But today is a good day. I just finished assembling a new chair for my office. Unabashedly, I stare at that thing, admiring it. I take a picture of it and text my mother. Not because it’s a great chair, but because I took parts that were seemingly disconnected and added some bolts. I twisted that crowbar thing that I can never remember the name of, and now, I have something to sit on. It supports me. I have humanized this chair, we’ve bonded. And so far, it hasn’t let me down. So far it’s keeping itself together. We both are.
Do you sometimes feel like your life is an assembly line?