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Doing that, which you can

by Nancy D. on 10/22/18

--  This past weekend, I had the honor of going to the beach on a shell hunting mission with my daughter.  In the next state, on certain beaches, you can drive on the beach, park on the beach and tale gate from the beach all day long.  You can even move your location several feet away and park there and hang out.  I've done this before, when I was married.  My daughter has done this with her husband before, but we've only ever done it when a husband has been with us.


          We went down to the beach a few weeks prior with  my son,  daughter and both grandchildren 7 and 2.5 years old.  It was a short, busy time, especially with 2 little ones in our room.  My son had an upper respiratory infection and wasn't feeling well, so I took on a  lot of the duties for the 2.5 year old.  I did not mind, as this was the first time I had been in a mini vacation with them, so I was taking in every thing I could with them and keeping them busy.  I don't get to spend time like that with them often. Normally, I'm babysitting them at my house, doing the same old routines of making a mess and me cleaning it up. This time was different and I got to watch them explore new things, the same as I was doing.


          When my daughter and I went down the 2nd time, it was just us... just us girls.  From our last experience shell hunting, we didn't have a vehicle we could take off road; and I think were a little nervous about the process and what we'd have to hear if we got something stuck, or  God forbid, dirty.  This next time, we were going to conquer that fear and take a suitable vehicle on the beach.  We were going to listen to you-tube video's on how to drive on the beach, how to deflate the tires, re-inflate the tires and get a permit to ride along the beach.  So, we did all of the above, and with the input and teachings from my wonderful son-in-law, we took off on a 3 hour journey by ourselves to shell hunt for two days. 


           We talked about how we never were offered or allowed, for lack of a better word, to try something like this on our own. Most of the time, the men folk took the reigns--and notably, do not offer them up. I'm sure this is in a take charge, protective way they have been raised, just like ours is the subordinate, sit back and let the man do man work way.


           The last time she and I came shell hunting, we parked in a parking area and walked miles in the deep sand to get to the area that provided the best, largest shells.  However,  on the way back, carrying a sack of heavy shells 2 miles (my distance gets farther every time I tell this story) to the parking area proved to be a feat of strength and stamina.  We wondered why we had to do it this way, when if the husbands were here, we could have driven along the beach and not have to suffer this anguish. 


          We actually had to sacrifice shells, picking out only the best ones, because if they weren't shell worthy to trot 2 miles back to the parking area, they had to go!    But, by driving ourselves this time, we would be able to get more shells, because we wouldn't be carrying 70lbs of shells, miles back to a parked vehicle across deep sand.


          We arrived at the destination where we had parked the time before; only this time, it was my daughter who let the air out of the tires, tire  gauge in hand and looking like she has done this a million times. We commented on how we tag-teamed it like the best pit crew ever!  Before we left, her husband had explained how to take the truck in and out of 4-wheel drive, so after letting the air out, off we went! 


 Needless to say, the preparation and knowledge did the trick.  We were the only two women 4-wheeling that day amid a bunch of men fishing off the point.  I cannot describe the sense of freedom we felt, being in charge, making our way through the thick sand, conquering it at every turn.  


          I noticed, it was like this mysterious, taboo thrill meant only for the men folk in the past. Something that only the most experienced on the man-wall-of-fame experienced...and now, here we were, after all these years... and we did it. As we got some stares being just two women in a vehicle, we laughed and maneuvered around the thick track marks in the sand, watching the men looking at us with this puzzled look on their faces, wondering where I men folk must be?   We were free!! And I found it to be  quite liberating... and I knew in those moments, that my daughter could do anything....  And most importantly, she knew she could do anything.


          Parents, husbands, wives..... do yourself  a favor and educate your children on how to do things, so they don't see it as "man code" or not being trustworthy enough, smart or gifted enough.  Teach them how to let the air out of the tires and put it back in and where to find the information for how much.  Teach them how to get there and shell hunt or fish.  Teach them how NOT to be afraid to try something new.


          I called it the "male wall of knowledge".  It's like it was something kept secret from us girls.  I always thought that was because somehow, only males knew how to do such things and we'd mess something manly up if we tried it......or I always thought it was just a bunch of over exaggerated, macho fear.....that if we can figure it might mean to them, we may not need them.


          I have nothing against the breed :)  I'm even married to one, but there have been a number of things in my life that I have wanted to do or try, but was afraid to, because it was man's territory. They took it over, taking it out of my hands because as I thought, I wasn't capable.  In some cases, I'd hand things over because I didn't want the man to feel bad, or I was afraid of being criticized because my way of doing something may differ from the man way. 


             I was always taught some things are just for men and women have their place......but I now know,  I bet we could do many things listed on the man-wall-of-fame, if we happen to  try, without being ridiculed or criticized.  Ridicule and criticism comes from places like fear.  Fear that I may not need you.  Or, I have been assigned a "role".  One that I did not ask for or have any choice or say so in without an argument.  And to be fair, women do this to men, too.  I'm speaking from the aspect of my experience as a woman.


          It's taken me many years of growth to realize, I don't want to be in relationship with someone I need.  I want to be in relationship with someone I want...not someone I'm made to be dependent on.  I don't make people "be" dependent on  me, frankly, nothing aggravates me more, than a grown human being depending on me to do something they are capable of doing themselves.   I don't mind a child depending on me, because I am the adult and they can't help but be dependent in some things. But, I think rather than protecting them under the cloak of "you're not capable", I'd rather teach them how, so then they can become capable and interdependent, no matter who they are with. 


 It's hard for me, because I want to over-do for my kids, or my grand kids, but to see the look on my daughter's face and the strength it built in her self esteem, I certainly don't want to suffocate my kids or grandchildren anymore under the invisible cloak of protection; when I can celebrate with them, their victories.



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