have we gone overboard with DIY?

I hate gardening…with a passion! I love being surrounded by greenery, as long as I don`t have to try and tame it. Last weekend, I begrudgingly went outside to attack the wildness in the few remaining landscaped beds around our home. The recent rain made the soil soft and ready to give up the tenacious roots of the three foot high weeds. Yes, three feet high. I believe in letting them grow high enough to avoid the back-crunching work of bending over to get them. 😉

One hour later my clothes were covered with tiny green burrs, my arms were itching, my temper was flaring and, yes, my back aching. Half-jokingly, I announced to my daughter “I have money. I can pay someone to do this!” She was not amused by the comment.

I grew up in a family with a do-it-yourself philosophy.  My Mom is a gifted seamstress and knitter. I have no childhood memories of store changing-rooms, just long hours spent in fabric outlets. My clothes were impeccably hand-made. Mom’s immaculate garden is still her pride and joy. She spends hours each day daring the weeds to make an appearance. My Dad has shelves of how-to books for the latest house renovation or upgrade, neatly lined up next to the car maintenance manuals. He even built an airplane in our basement. (I used to fall asleep to the sound of a rivet gun!) My parents are a tough act to follow.

Today, we are bombarded with do-it-yourself shows from home design and renovations to gourmet cooking to motor-bike maintenance. Who needs experts? You don’t need to hire anyone. It’s all easy-peasy and great fun, too! Well, I’m tired of this false sense of empowerment and expectation. No, I CAN’T do everything. And, there are some things that I am both lousy at and hate doing. Gardening and yard-work are one of these things. And, when I can, I’m more than eager to hire someone to help me.

Some cultures have a more comfortable relationship with hired help. If you are financially able, then you are expected to provide employment to others. It’s considered selfish not to. Most of us in western society aren’t raised with household help, and are uncomfortable with it. We associate it with the antiquated class system and servant mentality of the past. We praise self-sufficiency and value our domestic privacy. And, we were raised to be thrifty.

We have had many family discussions over the years about the dignity of all honest work, and especially work done well and with pride. Whether it’s a sparkling clean home, a perfectly cooked and served restaurant meal, a beautifully laid new floor, or smoothly running car engine…behind each task is a gifted person sharing their talents with us. When we hire someone, we are acknowledging that we value and need their skill and ability. And we show this through our gratitude, respect and a fair wage.

Yesterday I called up our local yard care person. He’s helped to tame our unruly yard many times over the years. I sheepishly asked him if he could come and give our property a good manicure, warning him of the wretched state it was in. He smiled and said, “It’s what we do”! God bless him!!!