In the middle of the bathroom remodel, Lyz Lenz sent out a newsletter about learning how to do house maintenance on her own, after a conservative Christian upbringing that kept her pretty helpless:
My helplessness is not an accident. It’s who I was raised to be. A woman who could cook and clean, but not swing a hammer. That kind of bat your eyes, “Aw honey, can you fix this thing?” kind of woman. The Joanna to the Chip Gaines. The wife who does the design and the painting. The man who wields the power tools.
I’m not saying my dad ever kept knowledge from me–the opposite, in fact. Growing up, he’d take me to Home Depot and the fancy hardwood store. I’d hang out in his shop while he worked. We’d watch New Yankee Workshop and The Woodwright’s Shop and This Old House together on Saturdays. But I saw my mom making the plans for projects and letting him execute them, and it was easy to follow that model. Instead of wanting to learn how to do it, I’d come to my dad with an idea and say, “Do this for me”–and then I’d just enjoy a finished product.
I don’t know what exactly changed in the last few years to make me want to learn to do things for myself, except that life-changing trifecta of Meds/Therapy/Gym. Honestly, I think that last one was what really pushed me into learning home stuff–I can finally carry boxes of tile up the stairs, and muscle grout into joints, and actually hold things up and not make my dad do all the (literal) heavy lifting. Embracing all my beginner lifts also showed me there’s no shame in being bad at something or admitting “I’m not good at this.”
It was also important to me to learn from my dad–“while I still can” sounds kind of morbid, but after losing my mom, things just feel a little more immediate. My mom taught me so much about sewing and cooking, but there are still a few things I wish I’d asked her. I didn’t want that to happen with my dad, who has a lifetime of craftsmanship to share.
In her newsletter, Lyz ends up learning from YouTube videos:
Am I really doing it alone if I have these YouTube dads genially explaining to me what a clamp is? It’s a vision of a masculinity I’ve never experienced before. No one is screaming. No one is disappointed in me. Wanting more of me. Telling me I can’t do it. It’s just gentle instruction and the pleasure of fixing something.
Again, my experience growing up wasn’t like hers–I’m lucky enough to have a dad who believes in me. So I want to publicly thank him for going along with my plan to learn from him, for never saying I couldn’t do anything, for being the “gentle instruction” of the YouTube dads but also being my very own dad.