Full confession: I hate housework. And I totally agree with Catherine’s thoughts about the very unfeminist aspects of counting housework as fitness.
But I do like gardening, at least at the beginning of the season when I am still full of hope that things will grow. And I love my mom, who likes to have a garden, but can no longer maintain one herself.
So I spent many hours on Sunday working in both my garden and my mom’s. It wasn’t particularly intense exercise, but there was definitely some walking as I took my poor overburdened push mower over my little patch of grass repeatedly (it turns out that no-mow May leads to knee-high grass). And lots of bending and lifting as I hauled out lawn furniture, pulled weeds, dug holes for flowers, and carried yard waste bags (the heavy lifting with bags of dirt and planters happened a couple of weeks ago).
I was pleased that there were no twinges at all the next day.
But I have been thinking ever since about how slowly Mom walked through the gardening centre. She didn’t even feel up to pushing the cart (usually something she insists on). And Dad, who usually joins me to putter while I garden, spent most of the afternoon working on his puzzle books inside.
They are both in their mid eighties, so the slowing down is understandable. But it is also a sharp reminder of why I got active in the first place. I didn’t want to end up suffering from arthritis like my mom, and I wanted to be a good role model for my kids.
As I near the age they were when I made that decision, I’m adding a new goal. I want to age at home. I want to be comfortable walking to the grocery store in my eighties, doing at least basic gardening, and maybe even still riding my bicycle (or electric bicycle or tricycle).
I still won’t be smiling about the housework, or counting the calories I burn washing dishes, but I will be living independently on my own terms. That’s about as feminist as you can get.