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Touch of Spice

Longing for simpler days

Christina M. Currie

Every now and then I long for the simpler days. The ones before television and meetings night after night. The ones where two incomes weren’t needed to keep the electricity on and mothers could spend their days with their children.

Then I remember in those days women died before they were 40.

And if I really, really think about it, I admit I’d never make it. Rising at the crack of dawn to stoke the oven so you can make breakfast, nursing a colicky infant with one hand while whipping up biscuit dough with the other isn’t something I think I’d survive.

As the sun rises and the children set off to do their chores (I do like that part. Children doing what they were told with little argument), you consider your choices. Canning, cleaning, heating water and hauling it onto the porch so you can hand scrub cloth diapers and work clothes all have to be done today, along with preparing lunch, mending pants and your own farm chores.

Or you can sit down and calculate how many more babies your body can produce before your body gives out.

In tough times, you’re expected out in the fields pulling weeds and harvesting grain. And after you do that, you’re expected to cook dinner, wash the dishes and heat water for baths.

Night can come soon enough and the dawn comes too fast.

No microwaves. No grocery stores equipped with neat cases lined with cellophane-wrapped chicken, pork and beef. No radio to cut through the silence and no car to get you to town. No none of those shortcuts. It’s hoofin’ it for you.

A summer’s work was food for the winter.

No wonder everyone turned to God. He, at least, allowed them a day off that the harshness of day-to-day living wouldn’t have allowed for.

Still, there were benefits. Education was rare, and therefore prized. Family units were strong, community ties deep.

And every single day you had a sense of accomplishment. Not like now when I get a “me” day and can spend it laying on the couch and reading (well, I used to get “me” days, but that was before children). Now, I don’t even have a “me” room.

The simplicity the continuity of that lifestyle appeals to me, while at the same time makes me leery. Though I seek silence, I need the noise, the chaos, the hustle and the stimulation of 9 to 5.

I think children long for simpler days. None of their shiny, noise-making or cuddly toys holds their attention like a simple red balloon does.

I spent last night carving windows into a large cardboard box and then playing peek-a-boo through them. When I got tired, the girls made their own games in their “house.”

Their other favorites are spinning, chasing and being tickled.

Those don’t cost me anything but time.

Time.

That’s one thing these modern times don’t allow you much of.

A full-time job, community service projects, civic involvement and time to breathe. It’s no wonder kids feel lost in the shuffle.

But they don’t have to. Kids are flexible. They don’t need all your attention all of the time. But they do need to feel like they have all your attention some of the time.

If I set aside time to toss Katie on the bed until my arms ache or hold her hand while she runs around me in circles, she’s OK with entertaining herself while I work on something else.

All right, so she’s not always OK with it. Our main problem is that she’s not always done when I am. She doesn’t understand that when mommy’s laying on the floor, eyes closed and panting, play time is over.

In fact, it’s now bedtime. Only 6 p.m.? Don’t care. Bedtime.

We may have more toys in these modern times, but it made children who get less attention.

Work ’til you die and have happy kids or have more toys and neglected children?

Yeah, I long for simpler days.


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