So, my vacation with H was great (I took him to Missouri and Oklahoma to see my gazillion family members) but I spent some time feeling a bit bewildered. Let me elaborate:
In Missouri, I stayed with my Grandma B, who married at 16 and had four children. To this day, she is the epitome of the perfect housewife--everything is spotless, she cooks homemade rolls like a pro and there's always fresh iced tea daily. Now, she has 7 kids (she remarried Papa B who has three kids of his own), 15 grandkids (i think i counted correctly on that one!) and now two great-grandsons. While we were visiting I would try to help her do the dishes and she'd say "don't worry about it. Just take care of the baby and enjoy your time with him." Immediately, my inner monologue would go off-
But YOU kept house and cooked with FOUR kids.
You didn't have a dishwasher!
You didn't even have cool bouncy seats and crazy toys like we do today to keep kiddos occupied!
Geez, I feel inadequate.
Now, I know it was not Grandma B's intention to make me feel guilty and inadequate. She was just being her sweet grandma self, but seeing her run around the house to clean and cook (every week she cooks a massive Sunday dinner for everyone and pulls it off without a drop of sweat or anxiety) really got me to thinking. The women that were mothers, wives, grandmothers, caretakers before the great inventions of the dishwasher, washer and dryer, food processor, microwave, etc. worked their asses off. This is not to say that moms, wives, etc. today don't work their asses off--we totally do--but in a different way. Can you freaking imagine? I'm already sleep-deprived because of all of the house work and mommy things (and work things and volunteer things) I have to do but if you took my beautiful washer and dryer, dishwasher and other amazing contraptions, I would go mental. The bouncy seat is the only way hubby and I can shower and get ready in the morning. The baby bjorn and moby wrap help me get house chores done--I can keep H close to me but still use my hands.
Also, my Grandma W told me that she was talking to a woman on her flight from DC back to Oklahoma. The woman was asking her all about her life and after my grandma explained that she married at 18, had three sons, 7 grandkids, and a great-grandson, moved all over the country when they were small boys but her hubby was conveniently never there to help move, how a big chunk of her mothering was spent as a single mother, and that all of her grandchildren have lived with her at least once (i've lived with her the most :)), the woman said "so you've basically been a babysitter for 50 years" and Grandma W was like "well, when you put it that way. Shit, I guess your right!"
While I was with Grandma W in Oklahoma she did the same thing. She cooked, gardened, picked up after everyone else's mess and when I asked if I could help she instructed me to hang with H and not worry about the dishes or cooking.
How the hell did my grandmas do it? Without the gadgets, the child care, the parenting blogs, the super-involved husbands? No wonder my Grandma W takes so many naps....she's got decades of sleep to catch up on! (Speaking of, maybe that's just what I will tell myself when I am exhausted "suck it up, Sam. You can sleep when you are a grandma.")
Both of my grandmas had different circumstances but they made it work. They got by and ended up with great kids and grandkids to show for it. And really, that's all any mom or dad is trying to do--get through one day to the next and do the best we can with what we have.
But seriously....if you take my dishwasher I might go nuts....