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Kansas City MO 64131






Cindy Maddera


Last week, the self propel mechanism on my mower stopped working. Those of you who have been to my house know that mowing my yard with a mower without a self propeller would be an act of torture. This was something I was going to have to fix or have fixed before I could attempt to mow my yard again. So this seemed to be the thing that took up the most space in my brain this week, worrying about how to or how to have the mower fixed. I can't get the mower into my car by myself. Taking it someplace was out of the question, and that's how the seed to fix it myself got planted. From the many YoutTube videos I watched on mower repair, I figured the problem had something to do with a belt. Sure enough, when I flipped the mower over, I saw that the belt was not sitting properly in the wheel. I removed the blade and the clips meant to hold the belt in place, put the belt back where it belonged, tested to make sure it was still tight and snug and then put everything back together. I started the mower and engaged the self propel lever and felt complete satisfaction as the mower tugged me forward. I fixed the lawn mower.

I'm not sure how, when or why the sense of doubt at my ability to fix the lawn mower began to set in, but a definite needling in the back of my head started early on. It was telling me that I had no business taking apart the lawn mower and it did occur to me that this thought had something to do with my gender. In fact it was my first reaction to the doubting voice. Just because I'm a girl doesn't mean I can't take apart a freakin' lawnmower. I may not know the proper names for all the tools, but by golly I know how to use them. And the more I dwelled on this idea that I was feeling this doubt in my ability to fix the mower because of my girlness, the more determined I was to fix that mower.

When I was a kid, my dad wouldn't let us girls mow the yard. He felt that mowing the yard was not a job for a girl. That was man's work. Part of this I know is because dad was raised to believe that there are gender specific chores. Women washed clothes, cooked meals. Men did the yard work and took care of the automobiles. Women did not use hammers or screw drivers. Men did not use rolling pins or food processors. It didn't matter that during war times, women took on the tasks of taking care of all things, learned to use those hammers and screw drivers and proved themselves to be quite capable. Because when the men came home the women went back to their women chores and men went back to their manly man things.

This idea of gender roles today is so antiquated because we see how the lines between these roles have become blurred. Yet, I can't help but get the feeling that there's a large group of like minded people out there who believe those lines need to be less blurry and more back to the old days. I realized that it was these voices that I was allowing to question my abilities to fix a mower. But when I sat back and tuned those voices out, I was able to see that the doubt really just stemmed from inexperience. I was about to do something I'd never done before. Every one questions their abilities under these situations.

And that, my friends, is a very introspective entry on lawn mower repair.