Imagine you are chatting with a Mom friend, discussing the weekend, you would probably be talking about how busy you both were. I know we had a pretty busy weekend – the boys had 5 hockey games. I spent an obscene amount of money on groceries, did some cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Sunday morning we put chili in the crock pot and the makings of bread in the bread machine, it was so nice to come home to a warm dinner. Seems like a pretty typical for most of us with kids, right?
Now imagine you have stepped back in time and are having the same conversation with Moms who lived about 150 years ago. The Day 9 writing prompt is to do just that. I have started and restarted this particular assignment over and over again.
If I did have the chance to talk to my ancestors – as a genealogist it would be amazing and I would have some pretty specific questions about exactly where in God’s green Ireland they were from!!! I imagine if I told my ancestors about my “busy” weekend – they would respond with something along the lines of “What in the sweet hell are you talking about?”
I feel like we may have some trouble relating to each other – I would talk about my first world problems, busy schedules, and worries about screen time. Even just the basics – trying to explain things like running water, electricity, microwaves, vaccines, etc. Not to mention the actual complicated stuff like space exploration, the election, and Snapchat.
Mary, Sara and Maria McGee were farmer’s wives, which tells me that they worked – hard, all day, every day. These 3 ladies were each married to one of my 3x great uncles. Mary and Sara were sisters and lived next to each other, Maria lived nearby. Other than being Moms we probably don’t have a lot in common. I could tell them about my job outside the home – but honestly my family hardly understands what I do. My oldest son had friends over last weekend and they each brought their own Xbox and TV so that they could play video games. What about how much time I spend helping with homework? I think my ancestors would be puzzled as to why my strapping 15 and 12 yr old sons still went to school, instead of helping out at home. My ancestors had to grow, cultivate, and care for everything they ate. Seriously – sometimes just the thought of making the list, driving to the store and buying groceries can be exhausting. I can’t truly imagine or appreciate the amount of work it took them just to survive. If they didn’t set the bread dough to rise, they had no bread for meals.There were no grocery stores, crock pots or bread machines. If they didn’t chop firewood and tend the fires, they would freeze. They had to milk the cows and collect the eggs.Truly their very lives depended on their hard work. In going through the inventory of Maria’s home and farm after her husband’s death in 1864 – they owned 4 forks. I am almost positive I could find 4 forks in any one of my son’s bedrooms right now.
It seems daunting to try and bridge the gap between us to make a connection, but maybe there are a few things. My sister and I live next door to each other, my mother lived there before her, my boys have worn a path between our houses. Was is so different for my ancestors living on neighboring farms? It was likely a bit of a safety net for them – maybe they sent the kids back and forth to share some eggs or milk. If a piece of farm equipment broke they could help each other out. We have certainly shared our things many times living next door. We end up at my sister’s house at least once a week just to spend time together and catch up.
The ladies might have trouble understanding my working outside the home, but my background is as a Labor and Delivery nurse. I have documentation that there was a neighbor across the road who acted as midwife and was there to deliver their children. I believe that watching a new life be born is as much a miracle today as it was then.My son and his friends did play some video games last weekend – but they also spent a fair amount of time in the woods where we live. They had a great time exploring and shooting BB guns. Boys exploring the woods is timeless. While their children may not have been in school as long as our kids are today – I would imagine they wanted them to have an education. I am betting that just like us – they wanted better for their children. Their families had all left Ireland to come to an unknown place for a chance at a better life for their children. While we may not have to work the in the same way just to survive – as Mom’s aren’t we all doing everything we can to care for our family’s? These women all lost people to illness, they lost children and husbands to things that we don’t even think twice about today. Without modern medicine, my second son would not have survived more than a few days. The fears we have as moms today maybe different but the fear for kids safety is the same no matter what century it is.
If I had the chance to talk to my brave ancestors we may have many differences but I think just maybe we would be able to find some common ground. At the end of the day the important things remain.