Saturday, September 20, 2008

Life Is Hard...but Not That Hard!

Whenever I think I’ve got too much work to do -- laundry, meal preparation, cleaning, driving, pet care, child-rearing and much more -- I like to remind myself how fortunate I am to live in today’s times. Women of the past had it so much harder! The following facts reported by Smithsonian magazine were a real wake-up call for me:

Life in the 18th Century

• All cooking was done in or around the fireplace
• Women could not vote, hold public office and, unless widowed, own property in most colonies
• Travel was slow and uncertain: by water, ships relied upon the wind for locomotion; by land, a rider on horseback might hope to cover 30 miles in a day, a passenger in a coach, just 20
• Aside from sunlight, the sole source of heat was fire, usually in an open fireplace; after sunset, illumination was either by moonlight or candlelight
• There was no indoor plumbing: the flush toilet, the bath and the kitchen faucet are 19th-century innovations -- chamber pots, outhouses and buckets were a way of life
• Privacy was a rare privilege for most: people, including children at home and strangers at inns, routinely shared beds
• Aside from a minority of city dwellers, almost everybody was a farmer
• There was no anesthesia for surgery or childbirth
• Every household produced some, and in many cases all, of the candles, soap, foodstuffs and clothing it required
• The medieval notion of the four humors still dominated medical theory, so bloodletting and purging were employed to restore the balance of black and yellow bile, blood and phlegm, and thus, presumably, good health
• The average child had a roughly 50 percent chance of surviving to adulthood

Now, don’t those statistics make you want to count your blessings? All of a sudden, I don’t feel so overworked!

Source: Smithsonian magazine, December 2007

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1 comment:

  1. I love this post - the details and the general sentiment. I've written about my great-grandmother who raised several children, including twins. She also grew the family food and tended the sheep to make their woolen clothing. Certainly offers perspective.

    But you don't have to go back in history to find such perspective. I recently moved to South Africa and am awed daily by the strength and struggles of women here.

    Thanks for an interesting post.

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