Sunday, September 27, 2009
What's the beef?
Sometimes, I wonder just how my grandmothers did it. Just how did they raise three children each, keep a home, manage their crops and cook everything FROM SCRATCH? I wouldn't say either had overly involved husbands. They were typical husbands of that era – caring but pretty much uninvolved with the daily operations of things. They went to work, came home, ate dinner, hugged the kids and read the newspaper.
This leads me to wonder why women of today complain as we do. Single mothers excluded, those of us with husbands willing to pitch in in the smallest way should be rejoicing, shouldn't we? Or maybe I have that wrong. Perhaps, this is the way it was meant to be all along. Either way, I can arguably say that as the basic running of a home goes, today's mother has it way easier than my grandparents did.
For instance, take my paternal grandmother. She's a one-woman freak of nature. At 86 years old, she still mows her property (over 100 acres), skins deer, goes fishing and tends her own fully functioning garden. She also still cooks a full Christmas dinner for her large family FROM SCRATCH. My other grandmother has a garden you wouldn't believe, which she still, at 85, maintains without help. Since my grandfather's passing over 10 years ago, she does get some help with the mowing, but maintains her home herself and has helped raise her nearest grandchildren, all while remaining very active in her church.
My paternal grandmother not only took care of her land, family, home and husband, but she also worked as a cook in the nearby elementary school when she was a young mother.
Then, I look at my own mother. She married my father at age 19, had her first child very early and quickly became a housewife. Never attending college, living in her own apartment or holding a job, she wasn't sure what to do after she left her abusive husband to raise two children on her own. She finished her associate's degree while attending night classes and sometimes worked three jobs to keep a roof over our heads. It wasn't easy. It wasn't always fun. But she did it, all while cooking dinner and keeping house for us ungrateful children.
So, when I begin to moan and grouse about my husband working in San Antonio, having to do all this grunt work with no one to assist me, I have to look at the women who came before me. Those earlier generations of strong women who did what they had to do to keep their lives going, keep their children happy and their husbands optimistic. Did I happen to mention that my father's mother didn't have a washer and dryer until many years into her marriage?
How, then, can I complain as I Swiffer my wood floors or take a load out of the dryer to fold them (for the hundredth time) when my grandmothers had few, if any, of those luxuries? What exactly is my beef?
There are times, I wish I could go back in time and watch them in action, see how they handled their struggles. I'll bet my electric vacuum cleaner that they did so with much more grace than I can muster on most occasions. I'm making a vow to myself to conjure up their wisdom, their guidance and their experiences whenever I feel low. Thankfully I can do that just by picking up a telephone, another luxury that wasn't theirs for many decades.