When I’m not momming or doing volunteer work, my “real” job is working with the geriatric population at a nursing home. Trust me, I’ve heard “How do you do that everyday??” more times than I can count. But really, I consider myself lucky to work with such “well seasoned” individuals who share their lives with me and allow me to be part of their latter years … and oh, the stories I have heard.
For the vast majority of my career, I’ve been raising young children and for a while waddled around the nursing home as a pregnant momma-to-be. Many of the patients I see are parents too and share with me their adventures of the early years of parenthood. I have some patients who are well into their 90’s and some even over 100, so their years of parenting are vastly different than what we as mothers experience now. It amazing what some of these ladies have seen during their lives: many of them born prior to woman’s suffrage, living through the Great Depression and witnessing the events of World War III (many of them serving in the war). There is no denying that life was harder back then, and I’m sure raising children was no cake walk.
Chatting with these ladies day-in and day-out has made me extremely grateful for all the modern conveniences we have at our fingertips now that make our lives as mommies so much more enjoyable. They raised children without a lot of the things that make parenthood “easy” today and many at a time when the world when amidst brutal conflict. I can’t imagine living life as a mother without ….
I can’t even fathom warming every serving of leftover food in a pan on the stove. My family would be eating lots of cold food. Microwaves weren’t introduced for use in homes until the late 60’s … a day in age where mostly everything was home cooked and convenience and fast foods weren’t available. I can’t even imagine the dishes to clean. The tales I’ve been told about raising, cooking, and then storing food for their families are pretty unbelievable.
I take this precious little device for granted everyday! My older and much wiser patients frequently tell me stories of listening to the radio to learn of news worthy stories. It wasn’t until after World War II that television became a mainstream source for disseminating information, a time when many of my patients were in their teens (or older). Full disclosure, sometimes I use the television as a babysitter so I can get things accomplished. With the click of a button, my kids are immediately submersed in Disney magic and lapse briefly into a subliminal state allowing for me to wash my hair in peace.
Automatic Washing Machine
Not until the mid to late 1940’s were washing machines commonplace in most homes. We all know kids equal loads of laundry. As lucky as I am to live in the 21st century and have an automatic washing machine just across my house, I still fall behind on laundry. God bless the generations of woman before us who hand washed and lined dried every article of clothing their children wore. It makes me tired just thinking about it!
It wasn’t until the 60’s (after the birth of my parents) that disposable diapers were widely available. While I know cloth diaper has made a comeback and is beneficial for our environment, generations before ours didn’t have access to fancy cloth diapering systems. Once the diapers were dirtied, they had to be cleaned (see above … YIKES). Hearing stories from my patients about the hours spent laundering, bleaching, hanging diapers to dry, and then ironing (yes, ironing) makes me so very grateful for the invention of disposable diapers.
The next time your grandmother tells you her account of “how hard life was back then,” she probably isn’t exaggerating. Hearing stories of mothers from past generations is so intriguing and has impressed upon me just how far we’ve come as a society, and how truly easy we have it as mothers these days.