This past weekend the last of our holiday decorations were stored away in the crawl space. In the Weisenberger household, the 2014 holiday season had officially come to a close.
I love the holidays but, like a lot of women, I overdo it. With the shopping, decorating, wrapping and cooking – especially the cooking – I drive myself to exhaustion. For example, in a single day I made candy, cinnamon rolls and lasagna for Christmas Eve dinner. By the time the season is over, I’m exhausted and rather look forward to the chilly calm of January.
But these spells of maniacal domesticity do have their upside. The fatigue and aching back from standing on my feet for hours makes me appreciate women of earlier generations. For them “from scratch” cooking wasn’t something they did to be organic or trendy. It was a necessity. There was no such thing as the Pillsbury Doughboy. If they wanted to treat their families to cinnamon rolls, they pulled out the flour bin, waited for the dough to rise and started rolling.
Tasks such as cooking have traditionally been filed under the category called “women’s work.” The subliminal meaning was it was unimportant or easy. Sort of like “throw like a girl” was an insult until the appearance last summer in the Little League World Series of the remarkable Miss Mo’ne Davis. But whoever said “women’s work” was easy wasn’t a woman.
Maybe growing up on a farm has given me a different perspective. Things tend to change more slowly in rural areas; at least they did when I was growing up. My grandmother had a wringer washing machine where clothes were manually fed through two spilling rollers to squeeze out the water. Could she have afforded an automatic one? Probably. But why buy new when the old one worked just fine? Floors were scrubbed back then, and people ironed their clothes. My mother set the ironing board up in front of the TV pressing shirts and dresses while she watched soap operas. And that’s not mentioning the demands of children
“Woman’s work” has never been easy or unimportant. It’s hard work that knits a family together. Thanks to modern conveniences, much of the exertion of the work has been eliminated, but there are still challenges. And in today’s society, we’re very likely to see “women’s work” tackled by men.
We should remember that whether in a boardroom or kitchen, accomplished by a woman or a man, all work is important and deserves respect.