A Man’s Job

When I was just a teenager,

Mama always said,

“Find yourself a man

Who will take care of you.”

Not much later,

I learned what she really meant:

“Find yourself a man

Who will do things for you.”

And by things,

I mean the things

That were considered

A man’s job.

A man’s job;

You know,

Like mowing the lawn,

And changing the oil in your car,

And putting the Christmas lights

On the roof of the house.

A man’s job,

Like working the grill,

And changing your flat tire,

And fixing that never-ending leak

From the kitchen sink.

Because, you know,

That is all that men seem to be good for

In Mama’s eyes.

But what Mama didn’t know

Is that she taught me a valuable lesson;

She taught me that my father

Is a good man,

And a patient man.

My father was never good with words,

But he was great in his actions.

He’d change the oil in Mama’s car,

He’d change her tires,

And he’d put the lights on in the house.

He’d grill the steak,

He’d mow the lawn,

And he fixed that stupid leak.

Even after Mama asked for a divorce,

Because,

Somehow,

He wasn’t doing enough for her.

So when I finally asked him,

My father taught me how to

Do those kind of things

For myself.

He has always been a hardworking man,

And I knew that a good man

And a patient man

Would teach his own daughter

How to do a man’s job.

Because this isn’t 1954,

And finding a man isn’t about

Finding the one who will do the work

That most women

Wouldn’t be caught dead doing.

So as I grew older,

Instead of calling my father,

I changed my own tires,

And I changed my car’s oil.

I manned the grill.

And I would go on the roof

Alongside my husband

With the Christmas lights

Over my shoulder.

Mama was a good woman,

But despite what she thought,

My father was a good man.

Because of that man,

I knew how to

Take care of myself

When I was on my own.

And because of that man,

My own little girl will know

How to change her own oil,

Changer her own tires,

And tend to burgers

The same way I was taught.

Because, Mama,

I know what you wanted

Was the best for me,

But maybe the best for me

Was to evolve from what

Your father taught you.

Because despite what he thought,

We aren’t useless or accessories.

And my father knew that.


Prompt: Write a poem or short story that talks about different generations of a family.

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