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I like assembling furniture. A few days ago, I put together the baby hammock we bought off Amazon. Today, even though I’ve been feeling exhausted and a bit like I’m on a rollercoaster, I dismantled the double bed in the spare bedroom so we could move some things around and make more space. There were loads of jobs that needed doing that I didn’t feel capable of doing. But the bed job, that had to be done.

There’s obviously a very distinct sense of accomplishment to be gained from such tasks. A pile of things on the floor becomes something useful when you finish. Or, indeed, something useful is returned to a currently-more-desirable pile. You solve the problem.

I also find the nature of the task quite soothing. Even when it gets frustrating, like it did while I was trying to line up all the holes in the curved wooden pieces of the hammock stand perfectly before I could bolt it together. To use both body and mind, I suppose, is what’s so appealing. It keeps me in the present moment. It makes it so that, even if I’m feeling physically and emotionally awful, I can transcend that somewhat for a while.

Or perhaps my enjoyment of rudimentary DIY tasks is simply, in fact, something that was programmed into me as the female child of a single mother. There’s always been a sense of worthiness found from completing more ‘masculine’ activities. Like a defiant statement of ‘I don’t need no man’. Like a badge of self-sufficiency, as unsubstantial or erroneous as it may be.

That’s definitely a part of my character, although I don’t know exactly how much it contributes to my compulsion to build stuff from Ikea. It’s something I’ve tried to be very aware of in recent years, because there’s an element of glorifying the more ‘masculine’ aspects of life that I want to keep in check within myself. And that comes at a cost to the feminine. Which comes at a cost to me.

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