“I got a flat tire today. I had just dropped off a meal to a family who is hurting, mourning a beloved father, here at Christmas to make it even worse. I had my minivan loaded down with blonde boys, woobies snacks and library books. Suddenly the steering wheel started to wobble.
I pulled into the closest parking lot and caught my oldest son’s eye in the rearview mirror. I gave him a wink and said, ‘let’s go check it out.’
If I’d called and asked my husband, he would’ve been there ASAP. He is the kind of guy who is always there if you need him, ready to swoop in and save the day.
I thought about it, but I also thought about the women I want these boys to marry. Do I want them to look for someone who needs saving? Not really.
We pulled out the jack, the tire iron and the spare and set about changing it. I gave him a turn, helped him remove lug nuts and showed him how to roll the tire to find what went wrong.
I showed him how even though I’m not strong enough to loosen the lugs when an air wrench put them on, I can stand on the arm of the iron and bounce enough to get them loose. Most importantly I showed him that Mama can save the day too, even in her Converse sneakers.
Not too long ago we came across a mom and daughter with a flat, I got out to check on them and found the mom crying. I asked her if I could help and she said yes but looked doubtful, she also said that she doesn’t have a husband. She mentioned no less than three or four times in front of her little girl how she doesn’t have a husband but needs one for moments like this.
It crossed my mind to say something but instead I handed the little girl the tire iron and said, ‘let’s teach mom how to do this so she doesn’t need anyone’. That little girl beamed. I taught her how to bounce on the tire iron and use her body weight to leverage the stubborn lugs, I taught them both where to put the jack, so the weight is on the frame.
Mama, watch your ‘cant’s’ in front of your children, they’re listening and so much of what they learn is caught, not taught. That mom who ‘needed a man’ had an ‘empowered women empower women’ bumper sticker on the back of her Honda Civic. She didn’t need a man, she needed to push up her sleeves and teach her daughter how to do what needs to be done.
The truth is I am what my kids call ‘barely a grown up’. I am only 5’1″ if I stand on my toes, I’m not terribly strong and to look at me you’d assume I have no business changing a tire. But, I can and now they can too. If for some reason you really can’t, tell you daughter you’re calling AAA, not that you can’t because you lack a husband.
Being empowered isn’t a hashtag, a t-shirt or political stance, it is just acknowledging that you need no one’s permission to take up space.”
More from Katie here:
‘I got the call at 6 p.m., left my kids with my husband and drove to her house with my socks crammed into my Birkenstocks.’: Mom urges others to ‘just show up’ when friends need you, ‘She didn’t need Pinterest, she needed me’
‘I told him to stop! He pushed him again. So, I punched him, hard,’ my son said. I took him for ice cream.’: Mom proud of son for sticking up for bullied classmate, ‘My child has full permission to rock your kid’s world if they’re bullying them’
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