I’ll Buy My Own Dang Boat
How will you? This is the question I love to answer.
I used to be offended, but these days, I’m proud to respond.
“Melissa, you broke up with your boyfriend? How will you go fishing? How will you go duck hunting?”
These were questions that I felt taken aback by, when one of my dearest friends rattled them off to me recently. It caused me to step back for a moment.
And for a just a minute, I wondered the same things.
But, I snapped out of it and quickly responded, “Are you saying that I could not possibly be capable of doing those things for myself?”
“Heavens no-I would never,” he responded and we laughed.
At that moment, things changed for me, the way that I looked at myself and the rest of my life.
I’ve been on this Earth for 37 years, and I didn’t start fully experiencing life for myself until 5 years ago, when I got divorced. Until then, I had only lived for other people and their dreams. Life changed when I became a single mother.
During that whirlwind time, I received some great advice– let your boys see you doing things for yourself.
My kids were struggling. I needed to focus completely on them.
“No,” she said. “Teaching your children self-care is one of the greatest coping skills that you can impress upon them in this life.”
I embraced that.
My children are my world and I want nothing more for them to have everything in this life. But, I am not just their mother.
I am also a woman.
I want to take many adventures with them, but I also want them to see me being brave enough to take adventures for myself. With the hope that one day, they will do the same. It is completely okay to travel by yourself and to take chances. In the book The Wild, Cheryl Strayed quotes the Emily Dickinson poem:
If your Nerve, deny you-
Go above your Nerve.
Two months after the “How will you” situation, I bought our first boat (notice that I said first…as it will certainly not be our last) and it was a glorious day!
Driving it home, on the interstate and over a bridge, proved to be a little scarier than I imagined, but I did it with my boys in tow. I’m surprised by the number of men that are puzzled by me owning my own boat and gear.
They often ask, “Who bought them for you?”
I used to find that offensive, but not any longer. I just smile and give my favorite response: “Are you saying that you do not think that I would be capable of purchasing my own boat or my own shotgun for duck hunting?”
I knew I would teach my boys to fish and to duck hunt, because I am capable of doing those things. And, in those times, I will also be able to nurture an attribute in them what is very close to my heart, self-care.
I have been determined since that day to learn everything that I can to captain my own boat! I am fortunate that I have family members and friends that are willing to share information and experiences with me to help me along the way.
I first learned to fish with a little petite, spitfire of a woman. My Granny Wilma had grit. She had her own catfish pond and her own pontoon boat. She is the one that drove the boat when our family went out on the water. I grew up watching her dig worms for bait and cleaning catfish for dinner.
She was never confined to gender roles, so neither was I. Not that she didn’t do things like sew and cook, because she was great at those, too. I enjoy those things, as well. I’m always a little taken aback when someone tries to bait my hook or take a fish off for me, not that it is not kind and a lovely thing to do. I just grew up doing it for myself-I take pride in knowing how to do those things, just like my Granny did.
In June, I competed in my first fishing tournament. It was a lady angler tournament. We were a team of three and one boat captain. I caught my first cobia, and won our team first place in that division. Here I was with over a hundred other lady anglers, all out there fishing our hearts out. It was so inspiring.
As a mother, and I don’t think I am alone in thinking this, it is very easy to wander off on the path to losing yourself. Between the sports activities and the daily mom/household duties, how do you hold on to yourself in the space between the homework times and the grocery store trips?
Give yourself permission to spend time on you. You are worth it. I start every day by doing something for myself first. I spend the rest of my day doing things for other people.
Oh and have an adventure now and again. There is a whole world waiting for you out there.
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