22 May The need to recharge… a cuppa and a lie down!
In the 1950-60s Australia, women were encouraged to have a cup of tea, a Bex, and good lie down in the afternoon. This was to recharge their batteries before the children arrived back from school and the husband came home from work. Remember, this was the time when most women didn’t work… in a paid capacity. They were expected to stay at home. And, as it was a time when the household appliances weren’t as efficient and time-saving as they are today, it was probably a very good thing. This was supported by many American television shows which showed the mother keeping house, made-up and carefully coiffured, with the husband’s slippers, pipe, and drink in hand when she greeted him at the front door. Not to mention the wonderful meal she had prepared and organized to be served up, beautifully cooked with everything hot and ready at the same time. All without a microwave in sight! How the hell can that be accomplished? And, did I mention the kids? They had been bathed, their homework done, and they sat like little cherubs waiting for their father to arrive at the table.
Decades later, I struggled to work full-time, even having help with the weekly house cleaning and taking the easiest options when it came to cooking meals. Thank goodness for the extensive range of sauces in a jar, two-minute noodles, frozen vegetables, and shops that provided cooked chickens! Let’s not forget an extensive array of takeaways just begging to help a frazzled mother out with the evening meal. And God’s other gift… the microwave. That was a must in my kitchen. I didn’t have a stovetop or oven in a couple of houses in which I lived. I used the space for necessary kitchen goods, like a dishwasher. I had an electric frypan, a wok, a bench-top oven, and a microwave. Oh, and a bread maker. If I couldn’t cook in those… need I say more?
The children? Well now… they had afterschool sporting commitments most days that had me running around like a chook with its head cut off. I’d drop one off at the oval or Rec Centre, take the other two home to help them with their homework while I endeavoured to throw something nutritious together for the evening meal. That was before I attempted to empty lunchboxes and refill them for the next day. After a few years, I realised it was less expensive to let them buy the lunch they wanted rather than prepare what I think they should have, which often came home looking the worse for wear. Like how I felt when I had to throw out the soggy sandwiches and the yellowed or mushy fruit pieces I’d so carefully peeled and sectioned that had mixed into the crumbs of the biscuit or piece of cake I’d lovingly selected from those on sale in the supermarket! It is now obvious why they were on sale… the kids didn’t like them! Epic mum fail, and I excelled at those!
And they were neither bathed nor quiet when their dad finally arrived home. It somehow seemed they were on a perpetual sugar-high. I blame the homework. Or maybe it was the chocolate biscuits I gave them as a bribe to complete it. And, it needed to be done with minimal input from me unless it was something they really couldn’t understand. If it was Maths, they learned very quickly not to even bother asking me. I could give them the correct answer but was unable to teach them the new-fangled process of how to get it. As a teacher, the last thing I wanted to do was actually teach my own kids. I’d used up that day’s allotted patience, brain-power, and inclination to give a …! Mother-of-the-year? Again, unlikely! Especially when I had forgotten to collect the child who was still waiting after training had long finished!
Thank goodness those years are well behind me. I may not take a Bex, especially as we now know how they have contributed to so many women of that era having kidney troubles. I do enjoy a coffee and time to read a good book, however. That is unless I fall asleep; then it is the nana nap I enjoy. I may have all the time in the world to do those things I never had time for half my life ago (during my mothering years), but it doesn’t mean I am doing them, even now. My P-i-C is quite capable to cook his own dinner, even if it is very basic fare. He can also get his own slippers and drink and, while he is at it, get mine as well. It’s amazing how independent they can be when they need to survive!
The feminist in me says sit down, feet up and enjoy the peace. And, for once, I’m going to listen to my own pearls of wisdom.