Gratitude Sunday: The Work Of Being Mother

Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.

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Sunday Haiku
Wind whips rain around
striking pink cherry blossoms
snow-like to wet earth.

Sunday Musings
This week I’ve been thinking of the work my mother and grandmother did raising us children. Not the parenting, I’m not sure they gave much thought to “parenting”; they were so busy doing the work of caring for us, feeding us, clothing us, keeping life and limb together for so many people, “parenting” meant having a child survive to adulthood.
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One of the kitchens my grandmother had when I was a child had an enamel sink with a red hand pump at the left side for water. The right side of the sink had a slightly slanted wooden drainboard. Buckets were stored under the sink and when you wanted water you got out a bucket, set it under the spout, and started pumping with your left hand. A pump or two would produce a bucket of earth-cooled clear water, and you dipped as needed from the bucket. If you forget the bucket or just pumped yourself a cupful of water you were scolded for the waste as the pump always produced more than one cupful of water. Not one drop was to be spent without using. This picture is close; imagine the hand pump on the other side with a longer counter on the right; it captures the dim light of the kitchen.
sink--water-pump-mike-savad[1]

The house was small, small kitchen, small living room, two small bedrooms, little furniture; just the basic needs, someplace to sit or sleep, a little space to move around the furniture, no clutter, few knick-knacks, a Bible lying on a hand crocheted doily next to the best chair. The bathroom held a sink and a claw footed cast iron bathtub. The toilet was in an outhouse down a narrow cement strip many yards away from the house. The sink and the tub were plumbed to drain out into the yard; they had fixtures but no plumbing to bring water in. When it was bath time, grandma heated buckets of water on the wood stove in the kitchen and filled the tub bucket by bucket, refreshing the heated water as each child climbed in and out of the tub. We were suburban kids, used to individual baths whenever we wanted or needed. Her baths were an adventure, one child after another. I visited my mother’s sister once while I was still a little child and she had no bathroom at all for her family of six. Two or three times a week aunt dragged a huge metal tub into the kitchen and bathed child after child, her 4 children and whomever was staying over, with water heated on her wood stove.
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The house was on a small working orchard in Idaho my grandpa managed for the owner. Grandma had a large kitchen garden interspersed with flowers. There was always something ripe to be eaten and preserved. First thing out of the car upon our arrival after the long eight hour drive we would beg to tour the garden and be refreshed by the exercise and the flowers and the growing vegetables, allowed to pick and eat whatever was ripe. Every summer the week we visited we helped mom and grandma with pickling cucumbers, making jelly or jam, or preserving whatever harvest was ready.images[3] The kitchen was always dark, we worked with the light from two small windows; one over the sink and one on the opposite wall over the kitchen table. Grandma would light the oil lamps only after it was dark outside. The icebox, which they filled with blocks of ice every few days after a trip into town, was on a special little porch area built just for it off the side of the house. There wasn’t room to store leftovers; everything cooked got eaten every day or was fed to the chickens or composted. The icebox was for the fresh dairy products she made: fresh milk from her cow she milked twice a day, butter, cottage cheese, cream.

I realize now she had no electricity, the oil lamps would have contributed to the heat of an already too hot kitchen from canning with the wood stove going, and oil for the lamps was likely a precious cash commodity for her. I don’t remember thinking it was weird that there was no electricity, or that we couldn’t run a bath anytime we wanted, or that the toilet was a hole in the ground in a little room outside the house. It was grandma’s house and we were visiting and it was an adventure. Maybe I felt it and complained when I had to go outside at night to use the bathroom. I’ve never been the best camper or adventurer.

Years later mom told me she had to wash the lamp chimneys every day when she was young. The glass chimneys would become black from the smoke of the oil burning every night, and she washed them during the day so they could be clear for the next night’s use. She didn’t like the job; it wasn’t easy to get her hand or another tool with a cloth inside the narrow chimney and she was constantly afraid she would break the glass. What nerve racking work that must have been.
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I think about the work my women accomplished while raising their children, growing and preserving their own foods, feeding their families, clothing their children with clothes they made themselves, tending and butchering livestock, keeping everybody alive, making their children’s lives better than the life they’d had. I feel like a pale comparison as I barely manage to work my full time job and make feeble attempts at keeping my house in any semblance of order.

Most of us have women like this in our herstories. These women are the true heroes of our nation, women who kept their families alive, who sacrificed their sons to the wars of men, who birthed their children in poverty and abundance. Let’s think about our mothers and their mothers this week as we prepare to honor them for Mother’s Day next Sunday. And so, looking forward to Mother’s Day for all mothers and women who raise children, excusez le jeu de mots, May the 4th be with you.

Color Watch – blooming attractions in my neighborhoods this weekforget-me-nots in rocks;DSCN3930 yellow and flame azaleas, antlers looking like fairy eyelashes;DSCN3894DSCN3891 tiny surprises in lovely green bushes;DSCN3927DSCN3953 a deep red peony;DSCN3949 an overflowing mauve azalea;DSCN3914 the different colors of rhododendron coming on, a pink with gold speckled throat,DSCN3954 creamy white with gold speckled throat,DSCN3924 pink with darker pink speckled throat;DSCN3921 lovely purple and blue rock cress;DSCN3935DSCN3934 candy cane tulips;DSCN3904 a waft of lavender wisteria;DSCN3881 an overgrown pink and red bleeding heart;DSCN3929 shades of green in a rock garden;DSCN3942 bright pink sea thrift;DSCN3940 Japanese iris hidden behind new trees;DSCN3902 and poppies, poppies.DSCN3939DSCN3948

Currently Reading – Me Before You (2012, fiction) by Jojo Moyes; Men We Reaped: A Memoir (2013, African American experience) by Jesmyn Ward; Whole-Body Dentistry: A Complete Guide to Understanding the Impact of Dentistry on Total Health (2011, holistic medicine) by Mark A. Breiner; Too High to Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution (2012, cannabis economics and politics) by Doug Fine. Yes, concurrently. Check out my From Me 2 U Book Review page.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Finding a romanticized version of grandma’s kitchen. Grandma’s was neat, tidy, and clean, but dark and functional, not pretty like this sweet picture painting by Janet Kruskamp. Missing is the sink pump.

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  • The fragrance of freshly mowed fields.
  • An open door, fresh air, birds chirping and singing.
  • Hearing the chime and music from the clock tower a mile away when the wind and air and open door have the right configuration.
  • Wild spring weather, rain one minute, sun the next. Hearing the grass growing during sun.
  • Having only minor irritations from the current pollen.
  • Experiencing abundance while spring cleaning and finding all the dust and mold I do react to and the joy of finding another spot to clean each time I clean the first thing of the day. Cleaning is like dominoes, but nothing is falling, just in need of cleaning.
  • Having only a gastrointestinal reaction to a new pharmaceutical I had to take for a short time.
  • My pool pal, who is always honest with me. For our personal pleasure here’s Connie Francis singing Who’s Sorry Now?
  • Having serious and silly fun with words and numbers.
  • Glorious Oregon springs like a queen putting on fancy flowery raiment.
  • Every day.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

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Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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3 Responses to Gratitude Sunday: The Work Of Being Mother

  1. heathermama says:

    i’ve missed your sunday posts. so beautiful. i love your musings this week. i feel like i can hardly keep my head above water most of the time and i di maybe a 10th the work my great grandma did. amazing flower photos.

    Like

  2. billmarydrew says:

    I love the memories shared here. Our ancestors certainly worked hard for basic necessities of life like hot water, bathing and putting up food. Most people made their own soap, butter, grew a big garden and sewed their own clothes. Some women did not have the luxury of a sewing machine and hand sewed everything. Imagine the time it took!

    Like

    • sassykas says:

      Until the day she died my grandmother hand-sewed quilt blocks to keep her hands busy, no scrap of material was safe from her needle. When she passed my mom put all those “rustic” (her skills deteriorated a bit) pieces into a quilt and hand quilted it. Amazing women.

      Like

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