The Project

How to be Self-Reliant: A Step-by-step guide for women

Step 1: Building a safe home for (wo)man’s best friend

Every human being must have a best friend. On this front, I am doing exceedingly well – I have two. They are Mosley and Havana, or as I affectionately refer to them, Baby Mosley and Baby Dog, mostly because I know this pisses them off. Mosley hates it when I refer to him as a baby because he is most definitely not a baby, was never a baby – my fiercely independent first-born was a free thinking, self-determined grown-up the day he walked out of his mother’s womb. Havana, on the other hand doesn’t object to being called a baby, but she ain’t nobody’s dog. Dogs have masters and in her mind she is the master, or as she likes to call herself, Xena, Warrior Princess.

There is no one Havana loves more than Mosley. He is the greatest person to have ever walked the earth and she makes it very clear she loves him much more than she loves me. Mosley, on the other hand doesn’t love anyone more than he loves me and, I, being their mother, love them both.

I’ve spent most of my life resenting men, envying men, loving men much more than they loved me back and going on long rants about how I want to be an independent woman while secretly hoping a man would whisk me off my feet.

We recently moved to this new apartment where there is construction going on next door. At first, Mr. Mosley and Havana Banana were obsessed with the work being done, begging me to let them out every five minutes to check on the progress. They’ve since lost interest, I guess, now used to the banging and clanging, but I have become fascinated with the project.

I should have become a carpenter. Not only would I have chiseled arms (one of my life goals), but think of how much stress you could take out with a power drill. Someone would have to hold me back from myself if I ever got my hands on a nail gun, man….

The whole idea of being able to build something with your own hands is so… manly. But manly is exactly the opposite of how I see myself most of the time: as someone who’s clumsy and struggles with self-reliance.

I’ve spent most of my life resenting men, envying men, loving men much more than they loved me back and going on long rants about how I want to be an independent woman while secretly hoping a man would whisk me off my feet. Even as we speak I have my eye on one with the most beautiful blue eyes I’ve ever seen…and he’s got me almost melting away. You see? I’m hopeless.

All joking and power tools aside, my obsession with becoming autonomous is serious. I’m not talking about learning to adult here. My apartment has a perpetual odour of white vinegar that inadequately masks wet dog and “I tried to make it outside, Mommy, but I accidentally went peepee on the floor” smells. Here’s another secret: sometimes I buy new underwear when I don’t feel like doing my laundry. In some ways, I’m never going to grow up, and I am totally cool with that. I will never keep house like our mothers and grandmothers did! Who has the time?

However, I would really like to in a more grown-up way, address some pervasive fears that sabotage me from the inside out, starting with this feeling that I can’t be successful or happy or worthy without being with someone else.

This is about resisting the urge to crawl into someone else’s strong arms instead of doing some freakin’ push-ups so that my arms can become strong too.

Women can accomplish a lot for themselves by speaking one octave higher than what is natural (what I call “lathering your voice in honey”) and fluttering your eyelashes. But it is much harder to accomplish things for yourself by actually accomplishing them by yourself. I don’t know if it’s centuries of conditioning to gender roles, but I regretted that I wasn’t dating someone when my washer broke down recently because I didn’t have anyone I could instantly call. Just to be clear: that’s not a good reason to be in a relationship with someone.

This is really about resisting the urge to crawl into someone else’s strong arms instead of doing some freakin’ push-ups so that my arms can become strong too.

This is about real self-care. Not running a bath and lighting some aromatherapy candles or justifying drinking too much – this is about taking an axe to the things that no longer work in my life.

This is about nods of understanding between me and those construction guys next door because I know how to wield a hammer in my own life.

This is about being a woman and showing up for myself.

This is about nesting and providing for those two beautiful babies I have who bring me so much joy – joy that I want to be able to feel without also feeling nagging doubt. This is about being a woman, and at the same time, a man, and showing up for myself.