We have just celebrated Mother’s Day. Do you have any idea how great the average mother is in this country?
My parents enjoyed what I thought was a very average living standard in Europe, but it took a house full of servants back then. Things have changed in Europe, as refrigerators, washers, dryers, and vacuum cleaners became standard.
When I was raising my children in this country, I did not have a nanny for them. I learned to drive in my 30s as a necessity; we had no chauffeur.
I did my own gardening with the help of a power lawnmower. No gardener for me.
When I was growing up, we had two maids. One was a full-time, live-in maid and cook, the other just came daily to help clean. The cook had to do the shopping daily, as we did not have a refrigerator. As a young wife, I did my main shopping weekly; I had a refrigerator but no cook.
My parents also had someone come and help with the laundry and ironing once a week. I recall some white things being boiled, but all was done by hand.
Eventually I had a washer and dryer, but I still have my washboard from the days of laundry being washed in the bathtub. No laundress for me.
In my youth, I don’t remember an electric vacuum cleaner. Rugs were hauled outside onto the wash line two or three times a year and beaten to death, and that would take four adults.
The day-to-day floor cleaning was done with a carpet sweeper. Wood floors got waxed, then buffed with a brush on a long handle that was moved back and forth.
I have no idea how I took care of my own floors, but an electric floor polisher comes to mind.
From time to time a seamstress would show up at my childhood home and do mending and make stuff.
Later, I did all my own sewing and most of my girls’ clothing; no seamstress for me.
Our kids learned to pitch in and help, and I sure did miss them as they went off to college. They learned how to paint rooms, strip furniture, refinish floors, and maintain their cars.
I’m not sure if they learned to lay tile, but they can re-grout. Two of the girls did re-grout my shower stall during a visit.
I think of the kids’ labor as their learning experiences.
Many of us women, after doing the housewife and mother thing, went back to work – and that was worked into our existing schedules. I finally did get a yard guy after I started working full time and all the kids had left home. I sure did miss my labor force.
Ladies, even if you are not a mother, if you feel unappreciated, keep in mind that you have been doing the work of six to 10 people most of your life. You, too, are a Superwoman.
Margaret Griffin has lived in Sun City Hilton Head for 15 years.