Thursday, April 24, 2008

Where Have All the Tough Moms Gone?

I have often gotten the comment since becoming pregnant with #3 that it will be soooo hard and sooo busy and some people are always saying how they don't know how I will do it and they never could do it, etc. etc. You'd think I was having my 10th instead of my 3rd or something! This got me to thinking, "Where Have All the Tough Moms Gone?" Yes, motherhood is tough, and it is a full-time job whether you have one child or more. I'm not saying that it's a piece of cake or that kids aren't a lot of work and very expensive. Working mothers, especially, today face immense pressures. However, I can't help but think of my grandparents and think what wussies they would think we are in today's generation. My Great-Grandma Campbell raised 12 kids, on the prairie, while her husband rode around on horseback as a Presbyterian circuit preacher. I'm sure money was beyond tight but they had a happy childhood and my Grandpa grew up to be a hard-working, intelligent, kind person! My Great-Grandma Brown birthed 18 children and they lived in tar paper shacks in the woods. Her husband delivered her babies as they were too poor for medical care. They didn't have a car and so Great-Grandpa had to haul huge sacks of flour home from town on his back several miles after work. And they didn't live in the Bahamas either, they lived in Northern MN! Brrrr!
My Great-Grandma Suzie raised 9 kids and was a single mother after her husband left her. This was during the post-depression era too. She worked hard at a restaurant, bringing home the food scraps and leftovers after work for her hungry kids. Great-Grandma Metzler raised her kids on a ranch in the literal-middle-of-nowhere-WY and had to ride a buckboard wagon into town. There was no medical care and no phones, internet, stores, and next-door neighbors.

Even my Grandma, my dad's mother, had it way rougher than anyone I know today. She had 6 children by age 25 and they were very, very poor. There was a time when Grandpa was in the hospital with polio and their landlord raised her rent $1 per month and she had to leave that rental due to the inability to pay. She didn't have a dish washer, a car, and she didn't have the option of "choosing" to have kids or not have kids, she had to boil glass bottles for the babies (she couldn't breastfeed) and do cloth diapers on all of them. She took in sewing and babysat for other people to bring in extra money. Even with 6 kids of her own, she'd sometimes watch a few other babies for pay!

Our parents, too, had harder times than I've had. My mother-in-law had no choice but to work due to lack of finances, and she juggled 3 kids 5 and under while working full-time and still kept the house clean and was an amazing and loving mommy. My mom did most of the child-rearing for the 3 of us alone, and often on an incredibly tight budget as my dad poured hours and hours into starting his own business and working like crazy. We didn't have any health insurance growing up.

When I think about all that my ancestors have gone through I feel really spoiled. Why do we feel entitled to so much in our generation and why do we take so many blessings for granted? We have it ten times easier than our grandparents, and yet we are always craving more stuff or saying we are so exhausted. Sometimes I think that it is OUR FAULT that we are exhausted. Yes, there are never-ending chores and lots of expectations of mothers today, but the reality is that we all have enough time in our day to get done what really needs to be done. God won't give us more than we can handle. How is it that many homemakers can't get their laundry or housekeeping done when they have vacuums, washer, dryer, dishwasher, and all kinds of cleaning products? How is it that some stay-at-home moms think they need to eat out 2 or 3 times a week because they are too tired to cook when the reality is that there are people starving in this world who would just love to have any food at all for their children? Why is it that we think that we can only "afford" one or two kids when we have way more money and options than our ancestors had? Why do we think our kids need all kinds of stuff and need to be chauffered around to every activity under the sun from toddlerhood on?

I hope this post doesn't come across as judgemental. I'm not trying to point fingers at anyone in particular but am just pondering how easy my life is compared to the lives of my ancestors. When I stop and think about my many, many, many blessings, I am truly, truly grateful. Thanks to a program in our state, our kids have free health care and free medicine. Our third child's birth will be covered completely through that same program! The Lord is providing us with a bigger vehicle as our family grows and we have more than enough clothing. I can purchase healthy foods and feed my family delicious meals and a variety of things on our food budget. We are always warm, have running water for staying clean and we have free laundry facilities here and we can actually afford to use disposable diapers half the time (unlike my grandparents or parents). There are thrift stores in town that sell nice clothing for a quarter or less so I don't have to sew my children clothing unless I want to for fun. I've never had to wonder how I would feed the kids or whether or not we would be evicted or couldn't take my kids to the doctor in the event of illness due to lack of money. I've never had to take my kids to daycare as God has provided just enough so that I can be home with the kids. That alone is a rare and amazing priviledge in today's world where most people can't survive without dual incomes.

So, I guess this post is to encourage myself not to take my many blessings for granted and to not be lazy. I want to use my time, energy, and resources wisely and be generous with others. I want to be an example of endurance and diligence to my children, no matter what hard times come. If God gives us a very large family, then I don't fear that I will go insane or not be able to handle it. I'll trust that He will give me the strength I need for the task! Having a 3rd kid is definitely not going to kill me (unless I die in childbirth!)

As they say in WY, "Cowgirl up!"


The Three 22nds said...

For us, going from 2 kids to 3 was a lot harder then going from 1 to 2. Not at first though. Even though I had to recover from an emergency c-section, the baby slept a lot and it was ok. But now with kids 4, 2 1/2 and 11 months- it is tough! I know what you mean though about it being harder in the past.
I did want to mention though that healthcare is never free. It may be free for you, but someone is paying for it. I don't know how Wyoming works, but whether it be through people's taxes or increased healthcare costs for people with insurance, someone is paying.

Anonymous said...

That was a fun read! :)
Well, we didn't do anything hyper creative in telling our families, as our babes was conceived in our sin. We just came right out and told them, after we knew I was in my second trimester.
However, just before my husband and I married, I started calling my Mom ALL THE TIME for cooking advice, recipes, etc. I mean, sometimes I called her three times in a day! (She's a patient woman, what can I say? LOL)
When I delivered my Precious Jewel, it was evening and midnight my parent's time when I had recharged enough to start making calls. They were in bed. :)
I called and said, "Mom, do you have any recipe ideas for 7 pounds 15 ounces of beans? It's in a 20 inch package, and I need your help!"
I thought it was cute since I called her incessantly about recipes, and I REALLY thought she would get it even in a sleep-stupor, but I had to say, "You know I am at 9 months of pregnancy, right?"
I still smile whenever I think of that. :)

I have no idea if with our one blessing our quiver is already full or not, but I found this cute little card project... here:
if we have another. I already made them (I know, I know.. lol) I changed the colors, etc. but it is a little book that at the beginning has Psalm 31:21, another page with a sticker with a house that says "Family Time" and I want to find a four-person family picture layover somewhere. At the end I'll have a sound-recorder (I already bought them. Again, I know! I am pathetic! LOL) for the heartbeat, and over that, we'll lay a copy of the sonogram. :) And the page opposite from that says "A Baby!" with a rubber ducky. :)

I love children and can hardly wait for the Lord to bless us with another one, but I will. Being a quiverfull Mommy means being okay no matter how many children He blesses you with, less or more than you "hope" for. :)

Meredith said...

Wow! And with that, I will not complain as I haul my kids' diapers downstairs to be washed in the washing machine. Thanks for the reminder (I was just about to complain...). :)

-V- said...

I was just thinking about that the other day. I'm having a hard time conceiving of transitioning to spending time in the kitchen on a regular basis. My mom's mom had 9 kids, gardened, canned, cooked, cleaned, made their lives go. It blows me away... Pretty sure she didn't blog though. :-)

Mrs. Jo said...

Thanks for the comments ladies!

The 3 22nd:
I know life is never easy or a breeze with kids and hope you didn't think I was saying 3 are easy. My kids will be those same ages apart too and I know I'll be working my buns off! But it was harder in the past.
WY is one of the few states that has no state tax and is not in debt, but I'm sure the free health care program comes from high property tax rates or taxes on the coal and minerals that are mined here. We definitely have always had to "pay through the nose" for our health coverage and still do, but it's nice that at least this pregnancy and our children's doctor's visits will be covered by the state since we've had to have responsibility for it in the past. It is a blessing and though it may not be "free" as you said, it does help low-income families, like us, out a lot! My ancestors in the past sure didn't have these kinds of programs to help them as we have today.

Mrs. Gunning,

I don't think you sound terrible! You sound just like me! I get really into things, sometimes prematurely, too! I hope God gives you many more blessings.

I got a kick out of your comment!

What do you mean you are going to spend more time in the kitchen soon? Will you be leaving work when Eva comes?
Your grandma sounds amazing!

Arden said...

I am expecting our 8th baby in Sept. You would be amazed at the comments I get. People actually feel sorry for me!

SamAndHisGirls said...

I almost felt like I could have written the first part of this myself. You wouldn't believe how many people raise their eyebrows at me and say, "you will be BUSY!" when they find out I'm expecting my third! Do they think I don't know that? Do they think I'm not busy already? What is it with #3?

I LOVED your post and every bit of it is true!!!! We have it so easy today and still complain. Thanks for all the good reminders of what we do have :) Awesome stuff!!!!!!!
And kudos to all your grandmas and grandpas for what they did!

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