I Can Do Hard Things

August 23, 2022
August 23, 2022 Betsy Voreacos

I Can Do Hard Things

I can do hard things.

I can walk five miles with shooting heel pain as I endure an excruciating bout of plantar fasciitis. Then I can pull out my trusty reel lawn mower and limp across the grass, back and forth, back and forth until the most determined of dandelion stalks finally succumbs to the no-longer-sharp blades of the push mower. I can do this for 93 minutes in 97 degree weather, sweat stinging my eyes and soaking my shirt.

I can pee in a Port-a-Potty while flies swarm above soft and fragrant blobs, wondering all the while if it is choice or necessity that there are ALWAYS feces in that dark, dank hole.

I can give up body parts – two knees, one hip, one uterus, two ovaries, two bosoms, one gallbladder – without shedding a tear.

I can bury a favorite soul sister.

I can endure a stranger’s thigh pressing against mine on an airplane, I can cringe silently through an uncovered covid-cough, I can have spirited discussions without berating one’s political convictions. I can drink half a bottle of bourbon without slurring a word (though one might argue that would be better categorized as “I can do foolish things”). I can write heartfelt eulogies for people I’ve never met, I can survive hours and hours at a Hearts Tournament without mentioning the lack of ice (like, why?) and I can watch 153 out of 162 Mets games a year which, anyone who knows, knows isn’t always easy.

I can forgive to a fault, friend the unfriendable, fearlessly ride my bicycle on car-crowded streets and wear Spanx for 16 hours straight.

I can do hard things.

But a four-inch mouse in my house is a hard I can’t handle.

Let alone six of them.

Living in a house that has outlived most living souls brings a set of challenges that almost, but not quite, negates its beguiling bones. We’ve had squirrels in the eaves, a cawing crow in the daughter’s bedroom, an ant-infested kitchen, backed-up sewer lines, clogged up sinks, bathtubs, showers and laundry tubs and yes, mice. We’ve had them before. We’ll have them again.

To be honest, I had seen the prolific evidence. But as with so many problems in my admittedly charmed and privileged life, I opted to ignore the droppings, hoping they would just go away. But after discovering a gnawed-through bag of croutons (the expensive brand) in the pantry, I knew I had to take action.

I pulled out the trusty “humane” mouse trap, smeared peanut butter on one end and tossed a crouton in the other – after all, they apparently enjoyed those zesty-Italian flavored cubes.

The next morning I headed to the pantry and slowly, so slowly creaked open the door, bracing for the sight I would find. My heart skipped a beat, whether it was from fear or joy, I’m not sure. But there it was. A little brown mouse, surely wondering how it had gotten its crafty self into a pickle like this.

“Ever-loving spouse!” I shrieked.

Luckily, the ever-loving was working from home that day so off he went, dog on leash, mouse trap in hand, to the nature preserve half-a-mile down the road.

Now I’ve heard the rumors and have googled for confirmation. Apparently a mouse can find its way “home.” So while it’s perfectly possible that it had been a former tenant, it’s still a stretch that it, or any mouse, could or would ever criss-cross two busy streets and pass forty houses on the way up the hill without one of them having more to offer than ours.

Day after day, we (meaning, of course, my ever-loving spouse and creature-loving son who was home on break from the horse show) caught and released, caught and released. As long as I didn’t have to do anything but put a couple crumpled croutons in the trap every day, I took a certain pleasure in the process.


The spouse and son went off to Michigan, leaving me alone with the dear-old dog and my word games for three whole nights.

I debated whether or not to put out the trap while they were gone. After all, what was I going to do if I caught one? Again, I turned to google.

No home ever has just one mouse and don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise. Mice can breed year-round with one female able to produce five to 10 litters per year. With an average of six to eight babies per litter, a family of six mice can multiply into 60 over the course of three months.

It was abundantly clear that I couldn’t let down my guard.

So as I am wont to do, I surveyed my gaggle of girlfriends, asking advice on what to do if I indeed trapped a mouse while all alone in my old, creaky house.

I reasoned that I’d probably be able to pick up the cage, if I averted my eyes– but I knew for sure I wouldn’t be able to carry that trap to the park. And I also knew that the scratching sounds of an entrapped rodent, albeit 1/10,000ths of my size, was something I’d never be able to unheard.

“Do you think I’ll go to hell if I just toss the trap into the trash can?” I asked one friend.

“It’s a rodent,” she responded.

“But it will die a slow death. It will slowly smother with all that trash on top of it.”

“It’s a rodent,” she reiterated. “In YOUR house.”

I now knew the course of action that I would take if, God forbid, I came face-to-face with the vermin in the morning. After tossing the mouse-filled trap in the trash, I would simply buy a new one on Amazon, to be delivered on my doorstep within 24 hours. I also knew I could never confess what I had done to my creature-loving son or sister, or anyone else who could use it against me in a court of law.

I settled into a CBD-induced slumber. Dreaming, of course, of an infestation of rats. In my bedroom.

Thursday morning was beautiful. The humidity was down, the hound let me sleep in. I was full of confidence and as I flung open the pantry door.

And there she was. Silently glaring at me.

“I can do hard things. I can do hard things,” I said to the dog who couldn’t quite figure out what it was that he was sniffing.

I headed out to the garage and slipped on my garden gloves which were caked with dirt from last year’s weeding.

“I can do hard things. I can do hard things,” I mantra-ed.

I plucked the trap from the shelf, trying not to make eye contact, and dropped it into a little white paper bag with rope handles that my new Apple watch had come in.

I lifted the top off the metal trash can outside my back door, but immediately lowered the lid.

“I can do hard things. I can do hard things.”

Instead, I put the little white bag that the Apple watch had come in, that now housed the green cage with the mouse, into the back seat of my car and drove.

When I arrived at the nature preserve, I was faced with a new challenge. How would I ever be able to open the door to the trap and survive the sensation of a mouse scampering across my gloved hand, or worse, exposed arm or leg or foot? I almost headed to the dumpster in the corner of the parking lot.

“I can do hard things. I can do hard things.”

The mouse was at one end of the trap, facing the door with the flip-flop flap rather than the end where the peanut butter goes, the end that has to be eased off the base, slowly and methodically. I gave a gentle shake, trying to turn her around, but her little claws clung tight. I took a deep breath and yanked at the door – the one she wasn’t facing – and somehow, some way, she was out and gone in a mili-second, off in search of her family without ever touching any of my exposed or unexposed body parts.

I put the empty green trap back into the little white bag that my Apple watch bag came in and drove home smugly, even allowing it sit in the front seat of the car.

It’s been three days and three empty traps. Perhaps the mice are all gone, or perhaps they’re still making their way back home.

All I know is that my ever-loving spouse will be back by the time the next rodent is captured.

And even if he isn’t, I know that I can do hard things.