“The thing I love is that my home life hasn’t changed. I still help out with the garbage. I still help out with the lawn.” (Taylor Lautner)
You know what’s amazing about remarriage? It doesn’t change your life one bit. Seriously! (At least, that’s the sarcastic thought I had one day last summer shortly after lawn mowing season began.) The truth is, remarriage even complicates…lawn mowing.
I remember the days when mowing the lawn was simple. The lawn needs mowing? You do it— or assign one of your children to do it. Ah, the good old days.
One day earlier this year, the lawn at the Merriman-Ramsey house needed mowing. In an attempt to bring the children together and to give everyone an opportunity to contribute to the running of our household, a child from each family (one Merriman, one Ramsey) was assigned lawn mowing duty.We divided the assignment into two section, the front lawn and the back lawn. Simple, right? You’d think!
We’d been told by remarriage experts that (at least in the beginning of the relationship) the biological parent of each child in the family should be the parent to correct behavior, make assignments, etc…My husband was very good to follow this counsel (better than me, of course, but that’s a blog post for another time) so one day my husband called to request I remind my son to empty the grass bag when he was done mowing the lawn.
I obeyed, called my son and reminded him to empty the grass bag attached to the lawn mower. He argued about doing it, pointing out that the other lawn mower in the family didn’t do it after HE mowed, why should my son? He added that he was tired of cleaning up after the other lawn mower, too, but my son emptied the bag despite his grumbling.
I got another call to report the grass bag had been emptied—of the grass left by the other lawn mower. I remained calm and endured the comments, thinking the other lawn mower could probably say the same thing and hung up the phone thinking the lawn situation was taken care of. My son was hard at work mowing the lawn.
My son called a few minutes later and requested to mow the front lawn. Unfortunately, I had to deny that request. The other lawn-mowing son had already told his dad he wanted to mow the front lawn, his dad had called me and informed me of that already, so I told my son that job was taken and assigned him to mow the back yard. Grumbling, he hung up the phone and went to work—I assumed.
That assumption was corrected when I got another phone call. Apparently, my son had taken the initiative to inspect the front lawn! He reported that it was not up to par: patches of long grass were visible to the naked eye at every turn and periodically on the straightaways. He requested to re-mow the front lawn for his assignment.
He wasn’t a very happy lawn boy as he hung up the phone to go to work mowing the back lawn. I went back to work, assuming, again, everything was taken care of.
There were follow-up phone calls about fuel for the machine, the length of the grass, slope of the backyard and my son’s lack of enthusiasm for his assigned duty. When the back lawn was finished, I got another call to report its completion, along with a question, “Have you called to make sure the front lawn gets taken care of?”
“No, I’ve been working, or trying to work,” I replied. But I told him I’d pass that request along as I felt it appropriate. We hung up the phone. Later that day I got another phone call: the front lawn still looked terrible, what was going to be done about it? In a bold move (or out of pure, green desperation) I took the situation into my own hands. I told my son we weren’t going to worry about anyone else or their assignment, we were going to worry about him, his assignment and making sure he always does an excellent job and takes pride in his work. Situation resolved, I thought, as I hung up the phone at the conclusion of yet another conversation about the lawn!
I got a final phone call about the lawn later that day. I finally laid down the law: “We’re not going to worry about it. The person who mowed the lawn OR THEIR PARENT will be responsible to make sure the job is done well.”
Second marriage moment #24: the memory of the days when life was “simple” (or at least lawn mowing was!) In that moment remarriage brought this renegade thought to mind: “I mow my own lawn.” (Ron Reagan) It sure might be easier! But then just as quickly I was reminded of the myriad of ways life was a lot more complicated for me prior to remarriage and counted my blessings that my unexpected life had taken that unexpected twist of getting to marry again.
Tim Allen’s mom only had it part right. “My mom said the only reason men are alive is for lawn care and vehicle maintenance.”
I think they’re for marrying, too!
LOVE #5! Married to him for 8 months now and together, we’re bravely tackling (and finding joy) in all aspects of the new frontier called marriage/remarriage that we’re exploring, including…mowing the lawn.