I would like to discuss something that has been heavy on my heart for several years now. Remember, I have lived in the country all my life. I am used to seeing people work hard. My home life was a different story. I have to say my father worked like a horse. He was a plumber, but he was a small man. I feel like he believed he had some standard he had to live up to because of his stature. Plus he did grow up on a farm, so that goes without saying.
Now before I go on about my mother, let me say this. I absolutely adored her when I was younger. I still love her very much. She's my mom, and I will not disrespect her. Growing up in that home was difficult though. She and my father were not compatible. She had some mental issues....seriously. She had severe depression, bipolar, and a touch of schizophrenia. I do not tell you all this for sympathy or for you to look down on her. She was not medicated properly. ( I believe this sometimes just gets overlooked due to poverty,plus she did function for the most part.) My dad drank and did not manage his business well, though he was so smart in many ways and worked til he could not move, and I truly know that in their own way, they did love us. Life just sometimes doesn't go the way you expect.
I do not use this for empathy. I use it as my testimony to what God has done in my life and why I am what I am.
Okay, so with all that out of the way,here we go. Most days she did not feel well. At the age of thirteen I cooked all of Thanksgiving dinner for my family and it kind of just started becoming a habit. I liked it.I liked knowing that I was the one they depended on, and I was actually quite good at it. This started other areas of self-sufficiency in my life, not to my mother's approval.
Most of the time our lawn was in shambles. We hardly ever had a lawnmower(we hardly ever had a vehicle either ha!) When I got older and we would get a lawnmower that worked, I would cut the grass. This made me happy. You see, from the beginning I knew I wanted to better myself and not have people look down on me. My mother did not like the fact that I cut the grass. She did not like when I took the garbage out.My ex-husband and I were living with them at this time. She would say things like, "That is a man's job. You shouldn't be doing that. " Really? Taking out the garbage while he was at work? Cutting the grass? Of course, I didn't listen to her for the most part. Mainly because I wanted it done.I can't stand procrastination. Not in me. And I was young and strong as an ox. Why is there such a thing as a man's job or woman's job?
I remember a few years after that, my ex was sweeping the floor, and my son asked why he was doing that. That was for girls....Oh No! I corrected that real quick. My son is 18 years old, and now sweeps, mops, does the dishes, laundry. He knows no difference between women's work and men's work. Now I do have some common sense. I know men are typically stronger physically than women, and I will call on them so as not to injure myself, but come on! I believe in my heart that self-sufficiency is not only a boost for your self-esteem but it helps others as well.
I will give you an example: I was in college up until last year. I was at school, doing clinicals, and working at a hospital as a student Respiratory Therapist. I remember this nurse I was talking to at one of the clinical sites. She was upset because when she got off work (a 12-hour shift!) she had to go home, bathe her 3 year old, and cook supper. Her husband would not do any of this. I do believe that I would have found a way to get his attention. This was not right. I cannot tell you how much I depended on my husband during this time to help out with the "Matronly" chores.
Now to pick on the ladies a bit. I'm not sure whether it's a lack of caring or ignorance or laziness, but there are some things you need to stop ignoring. There are things you need to learn how to do in case a small crisis hits. One morning I was getting ready to go to clinicals at one of the hospitals in the city.My husband and I left at the same time into two different directions. I got halfway to my destination when I noticed that my temperature gauge on my van's dashboard had elevated significantly. Due to crappy vehicles in the past, I knew this was a bad sign. One that could lead me stranded on the side of the road if I pushed my vehicle any further. I reached a convenient store and purchased a gallon of water and a funnel. I was able to make it to my destination. (I did have a serious problem, and I did have to have the vehicle serviced) I have also had an incident where my battery has died and had to get someone to jump me off. The other person a woman had no clue how to do so. So I pulled out my jumper cables and hooked them up, and a few moments later,I was back on the road.
There have been times I had to have help, don't get me wrong. One day I was heading into town and had a flat. I got out of the vehicle, took the hubcap off, and started working on the lug nuts. They wouldn't budge. The gentlemen who did pull over to help however were amazed that I knew how to get the hubcap off. They said their wives wouldn't even know how to do that. I was shocked! I have changed tires before, but once again, sometimes we girls need a little back-up.
My main point is that you do not need to put all your faith into someone else. There will always come a day when they may not be able to be there. And even if they are, it may make things run a bit smoother if you learn a new skill. I believe we need to be teaching our children these things since we are now in a world where divorce rates are at their highest, and people are stuck in the "I can get someone else to do it. "Mode.
Besides that we are not promised tomorrow. When my grandmother passed away,my poor grandfather didn't have a clue what to do in the kitchen. He could build anything with his hands, he's had a successful business, but no experience in the kitchen. I remember him sticking a can of pork and beans on the burner of the stove...still in the can. He honestly didn't know because that was my grandmother's job. Now I know that seems drastic, but is that any different than a female who doesn't even know where the oil goes under the hood of her car?
I know sometimes it is way easier to do the job yourself rather than teach your kids. I fell into that category myself ,especially with my daughter. I have done the single mother thing. It STINKS!! I was working, going to college, and trying to raise two kids (three if you count my mom who was living with me. Her mind had started to get worse at this point.) I was exhausted and just trying to keep us alive. Even with that I will say there has to be a desire to learn new things, even things that don't seem interesting, like cooking. My daughter is an intelligent gifted girl when it comes to school and her art. She loves creating new things, however, she does not have a domestic bone in her body. It has always been difficult to get her to do the chores. In fact last week I was getting ready for work (Night Shift) and she said that there was nothing in the house to eat. I told her I had bought some frozen pizzas and to just throw one in the oven. She responded with, "I don't know how. "This was in part to big brother always looking out for baby sis. So the guilt flooded me. I decided that we would start off with something simple for the next night. Something she could cook for the family while I was gone to give her more experience with the stove, besides Ramen Noodles.(which is one of her favorites for some reason. She's a picky eater.) I was getting ready for work, and Gregg had brought in the stuff for her to make Sloppy Joes and fries. Not the most nutritious, but something to get her feet wet. I was gone by the time she started but he said she did it all by herself. Though I was happy to hear this, I knew we had more lessons to cover. Now I will say that if she can be involved in something outdoors, we really don't have to twist her arm. She helped her dad (adopted) build the chicken fence with delight. So a good lesson for us all to remember is that we may not enjoy new learning skills we need to embrace them as well as the skills we take pleasure in so that we can be well rounded as well as self-sufficient.
Embracing the many adventures in Homesteading,
The Un-Country Country Wife
Another post you might enjoy about people avoiding learning skills read.
Other Posts Written by the Un-Country Country Wife
You can subscribe to The Rural Economist by email by simply filling out the form below. Your information will never be sold or given to anyone else.