You don’t have to do it ‘all’ – by yourself.

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We can have it all. We can do it all. Whatever ‘it’ is, as women, we’re capable of it. I don’t have any hesitations about agreeing with either statement. The thought that follows for me, however, is: do we have to? In order to be considered an empowered, 21st century women, are we required to have it all, and do it all?

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Because, frankly, I’m tired of doing it all. As a divorced mother of two (one adult, one teen) who currently both live with me, I’ve been doing it all in my home for a long time. Yes, my kids do chores, and as they get older, more chores. But at the end of the day, if it doesn’t get done, it’s on me. Sometimes, like this week, it gets to me. And it resulted in a break-down like I haven’t had in a long time.

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frustrated2So here’s what happened. I needed to replace my laundry machine. At the store, I asked the salesperson if delivery included installation. He replied that it wasn’t really necessary: all my husband has to do is unscrew 4 shipping bolts, connect the hoses, make sure the machine is level (using the handy-dandy tool provided plus my own level. “You’ve got a level, right?” ) and plug it in. Ten minutes work, tops. It sounds pretty easy in theory, except for the first part: there is no husband. I glossed over that part of his sentence, considered the burgeoning manly skills of my teenage son, and agreed that I could handle setting it up myself.

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Of course, at my house, these things always go like constructing IKEA furniture. My laundry room is rather small, and is wisely built so the floor slopes to the floor drain. Perfect in the case of a water leak. Horrific for anyone trying to level a machine who is also trying to heed the warning to avoid extending the leveling feet too high or the machine will vibrate too much. And then there’s the fact that, while my son turned off the water, connected the hoses and got the water back on without a flood (with me standing importantly over his shoulder), his father arrived to pick him up after he had adjusted one corner of the machine in our bid to make it level. No worries, I thought. I can do it.

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Except I couldn’t. The screws applied at the factory were too tight for the ridiculous soft metal handy-dandy tool they sent, and it kept slipping off the bolts without budging them. But due to the small workspace between the washer bottom and the bolt, it was the only tool available because the wrenches I have are too big. And washing machines are heavy as you try to shift them to get to bolts and ‘more level’ areas of the floor. My patience eventually turned to frustration and I screamed at the machine.

Things went downhill from there. Tears were involved. I quickly realized that only some of the tears were for the washing machine fiasco. Lots of those tears were mourning the fact that I have to do it all. They were tears of self-pity and frustration and sadness, and, yes, exhaustion. I realized that I don’t want to do it all. I need support. I need way more support than I ask for.

We all need support. No-one can do it all. (No-one, in my opinion can have it all, all at the same time. All of it is possible, but it comes in waves. But that is an entire different topic!) But women nowadays are expected to do too much on their own. To be too much on their own. We’ve been lead to believe that asking for help is weakness. It’s not: asking for help is a sign of strength. Asking for help allows us to spare our energy so that we can share our gifts with the world. Our energy is too precious to waste on stupid bolts: my ‘stupid bolts’ are an analogy for anything in your life that is a waste of your precious energy.

Asking for help is also a really good indication that you have people in your life who love you and are willing to support you. Even if, occasionally, you have to pay for that help (like I really wish I had decided to do when the salesman suggested I could set up my machine without the help of a pro). Paying for help with things that aren’t your strength or expertise indicates you love yourself enough to be responsible with your energy.

Lucky for me, my dad is a phone call away. After doing the best I could with the extendible leveling feet, I called dad and together we problem-solved how to get that machine level. When my son comes home, I’m going to let him finish the job. You know why?

Because I can’t do it all.

I would love to hear your thoughts! What are your ‘stupid bolts’? How do you spare your energy so you have it to share with the world? What help do you accept?

Until next time,
I wish you vibrant health and a beautiful day

PS Please go here to see how I can help you with your health goals.




  1. Anonymous says

    I can totally relate to the topic of doing it all yourself. rather than ask for help and “bother” someone, we try to do it all. Sometimes we just get tired of a Struggling. Your remark about having loved ones that will support you is an important statement. We just have to get our heads around asking, sometimes we are not kind to ourselves. That needs to change. We know it and just have to act on it.
    W. Brown

  2. Lisa PettyLisa Petty says

    Thanks so much for writing. Women put way too much pressure on themselves. Single women need to stop thinking we have to ‘be our own man.’ I’m not suggesting that some women aren’t amazing at around-the-house work. I have two sisters who could out-handy a lot of men I know. But I’m not good at the ‘handy’ stuff. And I don’t want to be. I’m also not suggesting that women ‘need’ a man. But we do need support. Here’s to asking for it from now on!

  3. says

    I have been married for 33 years, so while I cannot relate to your frustration on a personal level, I know how much I depend on my husband to handle those difficult things such as the adjustments needed to your washing machine. The thought of having to cope with furnace filters, adjusting appliances, changing the propane tank on the grill or snowblowing the drive seems overwhelming. You are actually coping with it. I am sure there are hundreds. ,more like thousands, of women who experience what you do on a day-to-day basis and can really relate to your story.

  4. Lisa PettyLisa Petty says

    Thanks for writing, Grace. You may want to give your husband an extra warm hug tonight! 😉 On the flipside, I’m sure he’s grateful for all that you do to lighten his burden, too.

  5. Denise Colbey says

    Hi Lisa – Like Grace I am married and my husband is very handy. Your story reminds me of one time when a brand new dryer would not work, I had a small baby, and my husband said call the repair man. I called the repair man and had a total breakdown on the phone when explaining the problem and the fact that I could not do without the dryer and next week was not a option for a visit by him. The owner of the store came that day, made the repair and I was very thankful to him. I have even bought my new machines from him recently. I asked for help and he responded. It was very embarrassing but he heard me.

    I still feel that I do it “all” and can have it “all”. I do the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, household shopping, banking, bill paying, doctoring and scheduling besides working full time. I have to learn to let some things go and sometimes I have to let the ideals of the perfect house, perfect meal, etc. go. I am learning to embrace the wonderful things going on in my life and let the little things go. I have to learn to ask for help. Perhaps this will help with stress and exhaustion.

    Tonight I am definitely giving my family extra hugs and kisses. I am not in this alone and appreciate them very much.

    Thank you for your story Lisa.

  6. Lisa PettyLisa Petty says

    Hi Denise! Thanks so much for adding to the conversation. You will have to trust me when I tell you that I do not run a perfect household, and that I wouldn’t often pass the glove test for dust. Or dust bunnies. It’s usually the big things that throw me, like appliances and lawn equipment. Dealing with those things – which, I’m not sure you can guess from my description – I loathe! 😉 Next time I will simply pay a professional for installation!

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