My grandmother recently told me that women today don’t realize how big of an impact modern day appliances have on our lives. She vividly remembers her mother hunched on her knees, leaning over the claw foot bathtub washing the bed linens and bath towels. Her mother crawled out of the third story window, (they lived on the third floor of an apartment building), and climbed over to the roof to hang the linens to dry. My grandmother said it would take hours for her mother to wash and hang all of the sheets and towels.
She went on to tell me about her own experiences as a wife and mother. How she boarded a bus early in the morning with her son, my uncle. She’d step off the bus and walk two blocks to drop him off with her mother-in-law, before walking back to the bus stop, and riding to work. From there she walked another three blocks to her office and then repeated the entire process in reverse each evening. When she arrived home she’d cook dinner for her family and straighten the house before heading to bed.
My grandmother seems surprised by the way today’s households spend their money. She can’t understand why people don’t use cloth diapers. “I did it and it worked just fine,” she tells me. And she can’t understand why women spend so much money on fast food rather than cooking dinner for their families. She seems shocked by the idea that anyone younger than seventy would spend money on a cleaning service or maid. She told me “older people can’t bend to clean under the sofa and table, but anyone physical capable of cleaning themselves certainly shouldn’t hire a maid”.
I’m happy my grandmother and I get to share these conversations together. They provide a glimpse into her life while reminding me just how blessed my life is.