It Takes A Village To Tighten A Bike Chain

I patched a flat tire on Sheridan's bike today. By myself. The first of many I'm sure I'll fix over the next year.

After she came into the house screaming that she couldn't ride her bike because her tire was flat, together we found a large thorn stuck all the way through to the tube. With nobody around to help me fix it, I took off all my jewelry, figured out how to remove the back wheel and brought it into the house. There I filled the tube with air and put it into the sink to locate the leak; a job I've watched my father do countless times before. Once I marked where it was, it didn't take long to read the directions on the back of the patch kit ... to buff the area, glue, and finally patch.

But don't congratulate me just yet. After I got the tube and tire put back onto the wheel, and the wheel back onto the bike, I did have a wee bit of trouble tightening the chain. After fiddling with it for another five minutes, realizing that I would have to loosen and tighten the back tire again, I gave up and told Sheridan that I needed Matt's, my dad's help. Darn, I was so close!

Matt has been gone for exactly one month. And while everyone who knows us knows that I'm the handy one who does the majority of the work in, out, and around the house, he's at least usually there to help cheer me on, relieve some of the burden, or in the end, to "call a guy."

Now? I call my dad. To help tighten the chains on the bikes and fix other flat tires. And my mom. To pick up stuff from the grocery store or to feed and watch the baby. And my in-laws. To store all our cr*p while we're at my parent's house and to help us with the paperwork for the girls school (which doesn't start until after Labor Day ... ugh). And my aunt and uncle to help with synagogue stuff. And my cousins to pencil us in for playdates. And my family and friends to lend an ear or three.

We are going on ten weeks of nomadic living, with three more to go before we move into our rental house for the rest of the school year. The honeymoon period of living in guest bedrooms of both my parents and in-laws house is long gone, and we concede that our brood is akin to the adage of guests and fish smelling after three days. At this point we could singe your nose hairs for we smell as pungent an Asian market's seafood department.

Yet, despite these frustrations of displacement and assuming all parental responsibilities, I'm slowly acquiescing and relating to the former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's book, "It Takes A Village." However in our case it's more like, "It Takes A Country." This country. Filled with an over abundance of everything I've been missing and craving for the past few years. Which, again, I'll take right now. Along with all the help I can get. Despite my usual disdain searching it. Because with Matt gone for the next eleven months, I recognize that while I wouldn't necessarily ask for it, my country, my peeps are always there to provide "it".... the phone calls, the emails, the texts, the notes, the history, the support. Sometimes whether I want it or not. Along with an extra serving of Jewish guilt on the side. For good measure.

And that's OK. In fact it's appreciated. Almost as much as having someone come over to lend a hand scooping and bagging the multiple piles of dog poop in the backyard.

Or tighten a bike chain.


Sara said...

love that you are a handy Mama. Me too. I have to talk cars with our driver because my husband probably couldn't tell you where the radiator on our car is.

In all seriousness, it was a lovely post. Thank goodness for good family support.

LeesOnTheGo said...

Thank you for a glimpse into the daily reality of what an unaccompanied post looks from "our" end (ie the family) of things. The tasks, the storage of c**p, guest room living, rental housing, and spouse missing. Not bad, per se. It just IS.

We are about a year or 2 behind you in that plan. As we continue to talk about the pros and cons of my staying HERE with the kiddos vs. going home(-ish) with them I'll probably refer frequently to what I learn via my subscription to the Perlman Update. One of the best "How To" guides on the market.


Anonymous said...

mmmm ... well said.

love the comment about the asian fish market!

Christy said...

You're one twelfth of the way there Jill! And I'm so impressed with how handy you are. You are amazing! I TRY to be, but normally fail and end up calling a guy. And only three weeks till a house of your own - hurrah!!!

CaraBee said...

We live close to my husband's whole family. I would be lost without them. There was a chance we might have had to move to Texas for his job and I was really, REALLY not looking forward to the prospect of not having our "village" around to help us out. Luckily, that didn't happen, but it made me really appreciate how good we have it here.

Keep your chin up!

jen said...

i rely on so many people with my husband being an airline pilot. because he CAN'T be there quite a lot.
the person i rely on the most though?? myself.

Kat said...

You gotta take the help when you need it. And I'm sure your friends and family are happy to oblige. Still, I know it is difficult sometimes.
Way to fix the tire! :)

Mom24 said...

Thinking of you. I'm thankful for your village. Right now, in a self-induced quarantine from my "village", I know it's very, very hard to be alone.

I hope the next three weeks truly fly by and that getting a routine and your own place helps everyone be more settled.

Emily said...

Staying with people is so hard. Having a husband gone is hard.
Basically, you are in a hard situation, and I am glad that you are able to figure out a way to make it work.
I hope the next few weeks go by very quickly.

elmoisgr8 said...

I totally hear ya! My hubby isn't gone for a year... yet (should be getting THAT e-mail anyday). But since he's been gone before (we're military) I've learned that it makes a world of difference to have support around. Even aromatic ones! Keep on keeping on!~L

Anna Whiston-Donaldson said...

Can't wait for you to get in that rental! This sounds so tough. Super-impressed w/ your bike-repair prowess, girl!

anymommy said...

It really does. Matt (my matt) is the handy man around here too and I rely on it way too much.

So eager to hear you are in that rental and getting settled.

Issa said...

I am proud of you. I'd of had to call someone. Heck, I can't even get my sprinklers to come on when I want them too.

The village though? I so get that.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I need to learn to be more like you with the handy stuff. I'm trying... For years I've assumed that Chris is handy and it's only 10 years into marriage that I've figured out that he's NOT. So THAT'S why nothing ever gets done around the house...he's not "busy"- he's worthless. Seriously though - he's not handy - just a little more so than me. And I think I can probably do more than I expected simply because I have to. And isn't that always he way...

(BTW when you move here - Chris will be happy to tell you he can help you with anyhing you need and never actually get around to it. No, I mean it - it would be our pleasure.)

Ann Imig said...

Don't feel bad. Once I called my Dad because we had a mouse in our condo. We were living in Chicago and he was in Madison.

Twenty Four At Heart said...

My husband travels about 80% of the time. I've raised our 3 kids without him for the most part. Unfortunately, we have no family close by. (Everyone is out of state.) It has been HARD - really, really hard. I don't know how single moms do it. (Afterall, at least I could whine to my husband on the phone while he was gone!)

Sara said...

Glad you're getting closer to a home of your own. Sorry school starts so late!

Heidi said...

I found you by way of some of my favorite bloggers...Kate, Anna and Christy.

I just fixed our air conditioner a week ago and that thrilled me to no end. I felt like such a man getting what I needed at Home Depot first thing in the morning. I'm impressed with your bike fixing skills. I am nowhere near that kind of handy-ness.

Nice to meet you. :)

Kristen said...

What a great post. Thanks for letting us have such an honest look at your life! I have to agree with Naoma, in that I refer to your blog as a great learning tutorial in this new FS life! I think I'll be "calling a guy" quite a bit in the future!

Andrew said...


This post made it into the Weekly State Department Blog RoundUp! Check it out over at www.TheLifeDiplomatic.com.

Have a great weekend!

Lisa said...

I wouldn't have even started trying to fix that tire. So you are a total rock star in my book. Even with my hubs at home, he works 13+ hour days & I find it takes a village to raise these three little ladies around here. Happy that there are only 10 1/2 months to go until Matt comes home!
PS - went to my first baby naming ceremony last week for our friends sweetest daughter. It was the most lovely ceremony followed by the most yummy brunch! Thought of you ;)

Blog Designed by: NW Designs