There was a big, gaping hole in our wall (holes, actually) after a plumbing leak. The pipe was replaced so there was just one thing left to do. Call the drywall guy, you say? Hire a contractor? No, of course not. I just tackled this one myself. A couple weeks later, the patchwork of holes has been filled with a couple 2 foot-by-2 foot sheets of drywall cut to size, some joint compound, and a little ingenuity (and a lot of YouTube videos, I might add).
I guess you’d call me a handymom. And I learned it from my dad. I grew up in a family who never once saw a contractor, a plumber, an electrician, or any other skilled tradesman enter our house. With five kids and a blue-collar lifestyle, money was always an issue. My dad’s do-it-yourself attitude stemmed from that and the fact that he was quite handy–or he became that way because he always gave it a shot. There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t attempt. He could build a home addition and change a carburetor on our station wagon, to boot.
My dad was born during World War I and was a teen during the Depression, a time when there was no such thing as credit cards. You either had the money to hire someone or you did it yourself. No putting it on the Visa card and paying it off down the road. The only time I saw anyone other than my dad doing any kind of work in our house or yard was when our town had everyone hook up to the new sewer system, and even then the worker stayed in the yard.
Working with one’s hands was a necessity in generations past. It’s a lost art today. But it’s not always people’s fault. With cars becoming evermore computerized, for instance, no one can work on their own cars for fear of messing with the brain of the vehicle. That lack of effort or fear of trying may have flowed into home-repair projects as well, despite what you see on HGTV. Although Home Depot and Lowe’s are doing a bang-up business, it seems that most people (the ones I know anyway) hire out for jobs. Those must be the contractors and the handymen loading up on supplies at the home-improvement stores. Or they’re homeowners who buy there and hire out the work. Rarely does the fiftysomething female buying the sheets of drywall, screws, and mud hang it herself.
Not only did I get the desire to do the work (and save the money) from my dad but I also got his slapdash way of working and a less-than-amazing finished product. I have to admit, my completed projects are more Walmart than West Elm, but I can at least say I did the work myself, saved the money, and have a sense of accomplishment from doing it.
Some of my friends will say, “Oh, but you’re good at doing stuff like that. We aren’t handy.” To that I say, “You just have never tried.” I’m no handier than anyone else. I just put in the effort and give it a go.
The next time you’re thinking of calling the plumber or the drywall guy or the electrician, if it’s not too difficult a task (and it’s often not if you watch online videos and have the proper tools), you may surprise yourself that you’re handier than you had thought. We can do it!