“Man will work from dawn till dusk, but a woman’s work is never done.”
The above was a favourite saying of my mother’s. I don’t remember her quantifying the statement either… all I remember really is my tightly-run home, and how beautifully in order it was. Though poor, we were organised and clean, everything was ironed (even the tea towels) and my mother donned rubber gloves and an apron precisely three times every day to “do the washing up”.
How true that saying would become for me in the ensuing years, after marrying young, and birthing nine children, all vulnerable pregnancies.
I just could not live up to my own expectations.
Therefore I muse here about what was actually happening while the ‘not living up to expectations’ was being done.
Looking back, my one regret is feeling so guilty and worrying so much about my perceived failings.
Because what occurred in the lives of my children could not have been contrived with the best-laid homeschool plans, and certainly wouldn’t have occurred at all had I lived up to my own expectations.
While I was confined to bed rest with a particularly vulnerable pregnancy, the children learned to cook. (Were they bored with dates and rice cakes, over vats of stew perhaps?) All of them, each in their turn, everybody taken by different interests in food.
I will mention their precious souls by name and their specialties, because in God’s economy no knowledge is wasted, and no skill is a burden to carry.
My eldest, Joshua became an expert in grilling quail and braising endives. (Don’t ask… it was a naturopath’s rotation diet with no food repeated over one week… eek…). Josh also became a magnificent pastry chef (a skill handed down from his Nana). He won Grand Champion Baker (under 13) at the Longreach Show to prove it. (And actually trained as a chef for a while.)
Bec took to creating home-made biscuits of all types and can now produce any baking at breakneck speed, in a confined space, with nothing but the wave of a hand.
Samuel followed his sweet tooth and an interest in the science of boiling sugar, producing treats he sold in retirement villages; Rocky Road, marshmallows, French jellies, and chalky fudge. (He still produces fudge when there is a need to impress). Oh, and a brief foray into setting pigs trotters in gel.
Ben has always known how to add heat to stuff. Like meat and eggs.
Jacob… he must have been bored / hungry a lot, because he went to an outback station, and after relieving the cook for a week, was given the job permanently.
Isaac likes to feed a crowd. We leave Christmas dinner and all parties to him. Always.
Elizabeth, Emily and Madeline still live at home and their culinary skills are evolving. Again out of necessity, because I never was that 1950s housewife.