14 May 2009

Reflections from the gene pool

Yesterday I had the privilidge of watching our youngest grandson Jonathon. As I say in my profile, I am a fifty-something grandma of three grandsons, along with the rest of my life, they keep me on my toes. Anyway, back to Jonathon. He totally wears me out, as do the other two when they are here. The three of them together make me more than ready for bedtime, often long before my usual bedtime book routine of 11 or 11:30. Last night I was crashing at 9:15. Early for me!

Sometimes when I look at census records I see the women of the past generations and I wonder how did they do it? Its no wonder that so many women of past generations died so young.

Just a look around my kitchen helps put things in perspective, breadmaker, food processor, dishwasher, electric stove, microwave, stand mixer and more toys. Step into my office, computers, printers, scanners, telephones, sewing machine. Down the hall in the laundry room there's a washer & dryer that do everything but talk to me.
Throw in the vacuum cleaner, my truck and little things like the guy who mows the grass. My are we a bit spoiled here? Do we do anything without the help of our toys?

Our ancestors were probably happy to have a stove of some sort, I don't imagine they knew (depending on the time frame) what a mixer was, certainly no idea on things like microwaves or breadmakers. I remember when my grandmother used her "wringer washer", heck she actually had to USE it, make it perform, no turning it on and running off to write a blog or read a book, she actually had to spend some time there putting clothes thru the wringer. And she was tickled to have it!

Here I sit in the time of all sorts of modern conveniences and I am exhausted from chasing one or two, or maybe even three under the age of five. One can only imagine when you see an ancestor on the census and she has NONE of those modern conveniences and has 7 or 10 kids as well. On top of all those children, she's got laundry, cooking, and much more to do. I can only imagine how tired they must have been at the end of the day.

At the close of the civil war my 5th great grandparents were the "parents" of 15 children, all but once of which were their grandchildren, stepping into the shoes of the parents who did not survive. Of their six sons who went to war, only one returned home. The rest paid for their service with their lives. Wives died of illness, one walked away and one remarried and did not take her children. What an intense amount of work was placed upon those grandparents.

Many times I think we romanticize life from the past, with the help of movies and books, often times the true life lived on a daily basis really doesn't resemble anything seen in movies or books. After reading this blog I truly feel blessed to live in the times I do. Even with the financial crisis and the state of our country our lives today are nothing compared to the lives our ancestors must have struggled with.

Sure puts things in proper perspective eh?


TennLady said...

I've always had the utmost admiration for my great-great grandmother, whose husband did not make it home from the civil war, and who supported not only her own children but her mother by teaching. This was still a time when many women could not read or write. She remarried, a widower with children. She raised her husband's children, hers were apprenticed out. It was truly a tough life all around.

Anonymous said...

I've often pondered just how busy the lives of my female ancestors must have been. In fact, I always think of them when I'm doing laundry, as I imagine a washing machine would have made a huge difference in their lives. After all, washing clothes was an all-day affair back then!

Stephanie at the Irish Genealogical Research blog