What a Burden!

June 5th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 12 comments

When the word “burden” appears three times in an article (with an additional showing in the subtitle) and the word “privilege” is nowhere to be seen, it isn’t hard to detect a bias. That was my first impression after reading Wall Street Journal food columnist, Bee Wilson’s essay entitled, “Feeding a Family Isn’t a Job for Mothers Alone.” 

I don’t want to talk about the premise of the article, though I do (surprise, surprise) have some thoughts on it. The subtitle: “In an era of processed foods, wholesome home cooking is more important than ever—and men need to share that burden,” pretty much lays out the author’s views. For my part, I was more struck by a sentiment underlying the whole article that is rather common today. I speak of the sentiment that life should be pleasurable and easy.

I’m a self-inflicted victim of this thinking myself. I generally expect to have a certain amount of time each day for reading, exercising and relaxing. My normal schedule allows me a night’s sleep. I assume that much of my day, including work, will be enjoyable. For this, I should be overflowing with gratitude.

What happens instead, however, is that my expectations increase along with my blessings. If my grandmother almost never ate out in a restaurant, and my mother did so a few times a year, I think it perfectly normal to have food prepared for me a few times a month. If my grandfather was grateful for any job that allowed him to feed and clothe his family, my generation expects that work should be emotionally gratifying. Instead of being overwhelmed with the blessing of having the financial means, safe environment and abundance of food with which to feed a family, we feel the burden of having to cook and prepare meals repeatedly.

I vividly recall the first time I supplemented our eldest child’s feeding with some solid food. I was swamped with a panicky feeling as I realized that, after months of relative ease where my milk could supply all her needs, she was soon going to want to eat numerous times a day. It would be years before she could take care of herself in that regard! I also know well the tired feeling of having no idea what to make for dinner and little energy with which to make it.  I am certainly not yearning for a return to the days of working in sweatshops or as sharecroppers.  I have no desire to see men and women dying young as years of exhausting labor takes its toll. Nonetheless, Ms. Wilson’s article reminded me of how easy it is to pity ourselves when, in reality, even our problems are those of the blessed and fortunate.

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12 comments

Josephine Lyn says:

Totally agree! Thank you for the thoughtful post.

Susan Lapin says:

And I appreciate your taking the time to let me know you appreciated it, Josephine.

Lenore M says:

Ouch! That hits home. I have complained of how hard it is to decide what to make for dinner. Instead I should be thankful that we always have food to put on the table.
And a variety of choices. Perhaps that variety is what causes the worry. Other generations or peoples had little choice.
My grandmother was a farm wife. Basically same meals all week with something special for Sunday….chicken.
She told about the preacher coming to visit….that he would make visits at meal times. She invited him to have supper but warned not to expect much. He said liked everything except prunes…..they had 3 items for supper: oat meal, prunes, bread.
She said he did eat the prunes 😉
My mother-in -law put any leftovers on table at next meal….till they were gone.
Both grew & raised part of their food.
We should stop and give thanks for all our blessings.

Susan Lapin says:

Great story, Lenore. This hits home for me too. I was writing to myself as much as to anyone else.

Susan Hire says:

We live in an age of a computer controlled pressure cooker with a timer – Instant Pot, a capitalist invention to help make life a little easier. Still, people find a reason to complain.

Susan Lapin says:

Susan, I think we are born with unlimited wants and desires. Because of that we accomplish much rather than just drifting through life. But the flip side is that we can slide into complaining.

Courtney says:

As a mom in my 40s with 2 young girls, I’m so grateful for the perspective that you give. I always look forward to reading what you have to say. In an Instagram perfect world, thank you for being a voice of reason- gently guiding our minds (and expectations) back to biblically based sound reasoning. I truly appreciate it.

Susan Lapin says:

It is not an easy time to be raising children, Courtney, though I think few times ever have been. I’m glad if I can help you on your path. I hope that the Practical Parenting column is helpful as well. https://rabbidaniellapin.com/category/practical-parenting/

I grew up in the 40’s and 50’s in an extremely poor and rural area. My father had a 4th grade education, my mother an 8th. I watched them work in all ways they could to provide food, clothing and warm beds for we three children. My dad “sawmilled” and kept horses for plowing our big gardens and farmed a few animals for butchering each year. He also shod all the horses in our area; he was inventive in so many ways that proved his intelligence and cleverness and integrity way beyond a schoolroom. I watched my mother worked the garden, canned everything she could get hold of, including all the meat that was butchered each year to provide food for the coming winter. I remember their clothes soaked with sweat from scrubbing and toiling to give us a better life than they had known. We at all times lived very close to the soil.
Now, to my point. Even though it was very hard at times, and we children had no exposure to all the things most other kids did, and even though I was embarrassed because we were at the lower end of that poor rural area, I now understand and am grateful to God for my parents for their devotion to us and the perspective that background has given me.
The frivolous way in which most of the world approaches life today is a constant wonder to me. I’m saddened at the lack of depth and fortitude we see even in our own family. I thank my Heavenly Father for the life He has given me. Today, although we are not wealthy according the world, I want for nothing and live in a long-ago-paid-for home my mother could only have dreamed of. I don’t deserve any of this – my mother and dad did. By the way, they didn’t complain; I do remember laughter and kidding around, but more importantly I remember that we were in church every time the doors were open.
I feel sorry for those who don’t understand how blessed they are, but more so that they don’t know how quick it can be taken away.
Thank you for your loving and generous hearts in sharing Ancient Jewish Wisdom with us.

Susan Lapin says:

Penny, what a lovely tribute to your parents. You are so right that we mustn’t take our blessings for granted.

Kevin B. says:

I read the WSJ article too. The author seems to have chosen to work outside the home and contribute to her family’s income and therefore, seems bent on having men step in and do their share of the cooking, like her man has done. I disagree. Thankfully, my wife and I chose the same thing: I would provide financially, take care of the home, lawn maintenance, etc. and she would maintain our home and cook and clean. Wow, what an old, outdated idea for today’s “modern woman!” Ugh! It’s like anything traditional is repulsive to today’s young professional woman. I must be a misogynistic pig for wanting a wife that stays home with our kids and prepares meals to feed our family! I’m joking somewhat, but not too far from the truth. I think couples should agree how to live their lives of course, but I don’t plan on getting in the kitchen anytime soon, nor does my wife plan on bringing home the bacon, unless its from the grocery store to cook. We don’t need more men in the kitchen. What we do need, is couples that have consensus on roles that don’t conflict with Scripture, and agreement on the division of labor in the family. That brings peace and much joy, even if the chores are a burden at times.

Susan Lapin says:

Kevin, yes! Couples working out what works best for them without the government forcing them to do what is best for those seeking power in the government.

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