Marriage is hard. Working in a business together is harder. You both have to pick up sticks, but under no circumstances can you whack each other with them, even if you want to (visualization helps).

This is what I’m learning after my first winter living in the country: sticks seem to be everywhere. Big ones, skinny ones, long ones, short ones, and all of them need to be gathered.

It wasn’t such a big task when we lived in town. We didn’t have many trees. We didn’t have too much yard either, although it always felt like it was a lot of work. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is a big backyard, but there aren’t a lot of sticks.’ Huh. Look at me, foreshadowing.

That’s back when the Carpenter commuted to the city, so when weekends arrived, he would happily spend them in our backyard, puttering about with make-work projects. Anything to stay put and not drive. I always knew it was his domain, and I was lovingly discouraged from helping. I was okay with that.

Now we’re both together in a rural home and business with a lot of yard work to do and projects on the go in every direction, and he has to let me help him with some of them. He has no choice. He can’t possibly do it alone (he could actually do it alone and would be a thousand times happier if left to do so, but teamwork makes the dream work, giggle).

It’s a different dynamic for the Carpenter than running a job site. He is of the mindset, “If I want it done right, I’ll do it myself.” And he’s not wrong. He just has to learn a new mindset: compromise. He loves that. You should see how much he loves that. His facial expressions sum up his unfettered joy when I offer to help with outdoor chores.

Bless his patient heart, he has reluctantly assigned me mundane tasks around the property that satisfy three of his “work-share with Kelly” criteria. 

First, the task has to be basic enough that I can’t break anything, make anything worse or get so frustrated that I quit, because in all of those scenarios, it will make his life more difficult. 

Second, it needs to be important. I need to feel a sense of  job satisfaction. I think my performance appraisal should include applause, but he won’t play along.

Thirdly, he suggests a routine task that will bore me so I will eventually return to my own work on the computer inside the house, handling tasks he would never wish to share because it involves human interaction.

He tried to break my spirit with the task of stick gathering. I was to source random sticks throughout the property, pile them and use my knee to break the sticks at a certain length (determined by the bossy one), before placing them in an orderly fashion from north to south in the wheelbarrow. So many rules. I tossed one stick pointing from east to west just to mess with him, because he can’t fire me.

Turns out I take more joy in retrieving sticks than a Labrador retriever ever could – and the reason for this is simple: my career has always been indoors, and now, I can go outside whenever I want to and run off my leash across acres of green space and forest. 

I understand dogs so much better now. Sticks. Who knew?

WriteOut of Her Mind