Friday, July 17, 2015

Gettin my country girl on

Last weekend I made and canned pickles and 2 different versions of peach jam.  Sometimes I just get this deep-seated need to preserve food.  It feels wholesome and homey to me.  Makes me remember canning jams, tomatoes, green beans, and tons of other veggies at my grandparents' farm.

I loved that farm.  I loved doing farm work with Grandpa, and cleaning house/preserving foods with Grandma.  Planting tomatoes, helping the corn down the hole in the bottom of that funnel wagon thing (whatever it's called), eating watermelon on the back porch, helping wrap and label the butchered meat, so much big fun.

A farm is really a whole family affair, and I miss some of that.  Even when I was little, I was called upon to go to the garden to pick tomatoes and help with the canning.

I feel like so much of this is ingrained in my bones, a vital part of me.

So this weekend, when I was making peach jam, I was really hopeful that the girls would want to help and love the jam.  But of course they didn't really want to help after a minute of stirring, and Genevieve wouldn't even try the jam.  (After bargaining with her, she finally tried some and said she didn't like it.)

To say I was disappointed doesn't quite cover it.  If I'm honest, my feelings were a little bit hurt.  Which isn't really the girls fault at all, mind you.  I fully understand that it's not their responsibility to make Mommy happy, that they're not little extensions of me, and that they like their own things.

But I really do worry that they're missing out on something big, something I can't quite put my finger on.

Jas and I are blessed to have good jobs and make a good living.  We live in a neighborhood with nice houses, involved parents, pretty parks, etc.  It seems that everywhere we look, people have plenty.  And this is just not the way of the world.

We live in a bubble of good fortune.

I don't think my kids understand that there are many, many people who worry because they don't have enough.  That there are families that can't afford and lose their homes, kids with not enough food to eat, parents who can't buy their kids new shoes when the old ones get holes through them.

And in many ways, it's probably okay that my kids don't get this.  They're still little, and it's a big pill to swallow.  And we send Bella to a magnet school (and we'll send Vieves when she's old enough), and a large percentage of the kids who attend are quite poor.  So they'll have more exposure to life outside the bubble there.

But I worry, are they missing out on something by having too much?

My grandfather grew up dirt poor, with abusive parents who eventually abandoned him and his siblings.  He went into foster care, and thankfully came out with a good family.  But he knew what it was like to be so poor that you eat the only thing in the fridge, butter, for dinner.  He stole eggs from his neighbors and sold those same eggs back to them.  The neighbors knew of course, but Grandpa was so poor that the neighbors bought the eggs anyway.  And somebody broke a bottle over Grandpa's head when he was a kid.  These stories, which I think are true but am recalling from when I was young, colored my world.

I watched Grandpa work hard, harder than anybody else I've ever known, growing food, working a full-time job besides, putting in 70-80 hour work weeks until his body was too riddled with cancer to work anymore.  I watched him penny-pinch.  I watched him worry about his kids, and his grandkids, and save and save so that he could pass down his savings and worry that much less about us going hungry.  Many of the lessons I learned from watching all this really define who I am, what I value.

My kids are not very many generations away from people who truly had to struggle, but they do not have to struggle.  They're enjoying the fruits of the labor of all of these people, but they have no frame of reference to appreciate these fruits.

Oh well.  They're still little, too little to really get it.

And I'm probably making too big of a fuss over something that will hopefully work itself out over time, with lessons about saving and working hard and family from Jas and I.

And maybe they'll want to help me make jam next time around...