One day last week, when Paul came home from work, the house was a disaster area (maybe even worse than usual). I told Paul, "I know you can't tell, but I was busy ALL DAY. I didn't do anything on the computer, and the only TV I watched was about a half hour while I nursed Jacob before his nap."
I asked him how he thought frontier women did it..... Alone on their homestead, having to take care of all the cooking, cleaning, gardening, laundry, helping their husbands, and meeting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of their children.
Paul replied, "Well, the infant mortality rate was higher."
"Because mothers killed their children?" I asked. (This particular day, Nathan had been in a bad, bad mood, and Jacob hadn't slept. It was REALLY wearing on my nerves.)
But seriously? How did they do it? With no conveniences - washing machines, dishwashers, refridgerators and freezers, disposable diapers, and tillers for the garden (just to name a few). They had to wash clothes and diapers by hand, couldn't order pizza or pull something out of the freezer after a hectic day, and couldn't call family nearby and say, "Can you watch the kids for me? I've got to get some stuff done."
Even more recently, how did my mom do it? She is the hardest working woman I know. There are four kids in our family, in 7 years. She managed to have a huge garden every year, and canned and froze enough from it that we never had to buy vegetables. (She also bought fruit from local orchards (or picked from neighbors) to can, so that we never bought fruit either.) She always had beautiful (weed free!) flower beds, and I don't remember the house ever being dirty - at least not like mine looks most of the time! She sewed a lot of our dresses. And she still helped Dad work in the field or work cattle.
We never went to day care or pre-school, but she still found time to teach us all our letters and numbers, so that we were well on our way to reading before we even started Kindergarden. I remember counting to 100 for my Kindergarden teacher, for the prize of a package of three crayons. Later on (from the time I was in 6th), Mom did all this while home-schooling four kids and doing all the secretarial work for Dad's trucking business.
How did they do it? I struggle just keeping the house in presentable shape. (I've decided that trying to clean house while the boys are awake is like trying to bail the Titanic with a teacup.) Most of my flowerbeds are overgrown with weeds. The garden, too. I try to help Paul out with projects that he's working on, but it's at the sacrifice of something else - cooking or cleaning.
I know I struggle with priorities (like blogging instead of cleaning, or working on an unnecessary project instead of weeding), but I think even if I worked sunup to sundown and didn't have the kids to take care of, I still would be behind.
I admire these women who can do it all. I hope one day to be one of them. I hope one day to be like my Mom.