Not Strong Enough

Yesterday afternoon I struggled to clean up more damage after the storm. Among other things, DH’s ski locker had been thrown by the wind and then buried in snow. At the end of the day I dug it out, managed to pry it free from the frozen ground, turned it over, and took the skis out to lighten the weight. Then I fought to stand it upright. It is about eight feet tall. Probably only 150-200 pounds.

I battled that ski locker for more than an hour, all told. I found a concrete block, knocked it free of ice, and used it as a fulcrum. Using all my strength, I could lift the top end of the ski locker to about chest height. But I cannot bench press 150 pounds. I could not push the top of the locker over my head the final distance to stand it on end.

I tried and tried. Given the sharp edges of the metal roofing I was aware that if my muscles failed and I dropped it, I might not only damage the locker but seriously hurt myself. I’m not strong enough, my mind kept repeating. Not strong enough, as I searched for a lever, then turned the truck around, sliding in the deep snow, and tried to figure out how I could use the power of four-wheel drive. Everything defeated me.

After an hour I was so tired and cold and discouraged I was almost whimpering, but I would not give up. I picked up the wickedly sharp end of the ski locker again. My gloves were so stiff with ice my grip was slipping. Again I could only raise the locker to my chest. Not strong enough. Shut up — what should I try next?

Suddenly I shook myself mentally. What was the matter with me? Why could I not accept this? I am fifty-one years old and I… am… not… strong enough.

The truth is, I have never been particularly athletic or particularly muscular. My younger sister is a natural athlete who works out with weights and could probably flip me over her shoulder. But I have a large bone structure, which has given me both leverage and a false sense of strength.

I have also always worked alone 90% of the time. I am accustomed to figuring out how to do many things on my own. Carrying big lumber, toting heavy items around the barn, moving furniture or appliances. (You would be amazed by what you can manage to move if you accept you will only shift things two inches at a time.) If men are around, of course I will ask for their help, but they are not usually around.

Last week a woman my age on my internet cow board mentioned that she didn’t really do chores around her farm but left them for her husband and son. “I am a girl,” she wrote. My eyes widened. I was raised by my tom-boy mother to think this attitude was the most feeble sort of helplessness. Mom taught me to pitch a baseball and to catch a line drive. She taught me to shoot lay-ups and throw a spiral pass. “You will never throw like a girl,” she said with satisfaction. And I didn’t.

But yesterday after working outside all afternoon, pulling my back, and at sunset finally having to give up on the ski locker, I suddenly realized that not all stubbornly macho fools are male.

I mentioned something to DH while making supper and he said of course he would come down to the farm and give me a hand.

With his help I estimate the task will take something less than ninety seconds.


4 Responses to Not Strong Enough

  1. “I’m a girl!” What does that mean? Tomboy here too, expected to operate equipment, nut calves and haul hay & cook a meal like any other teenager. Now that I am not a teenager anymore and in my 50’s I am glad I learned to do all those things and not be helpless. But like you I find sometimes I need to get better at asking for help.

  2. Noodles says:

    It’s interesting that this same mother said to the third sister, a very unathletic, extremely girlish thrower, “Good throw, darling!”


    • adkmilkmaid says:

      I agree that the wonderful thing about Mom is that she encouraged ALL of our interests, no matter how similar to or different from her own. She had the gift of loving. When I was nine I wanted to be a cowboy, and she helped me make a lariat!

  3. Rae says:

    If you can’t, you can’t. No big deal, truly. I found your blog and have been reading back to the beginning. From what I’ve read, you seem to be an extremely capable woman who goes above and beyond the call of duty! Sometimes, you’ve just gotta let them do it. I leave the heavy stuff for my guy (goodness, he’s 6’5″ and 280lbs). If I kill myself trying to do too much, nothing will get done around here! (j/k… Maybe)

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