Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Skills of a lost generation.

I was sewing a button back on one of my dresses this evening when I realized something. While I am perfectly capable of sewing on a button, it still probably takes me twice as long as it would take my mother or my grandmother to do.

I have a feeling that my grandmother's generation is the last of its kind. The kind that had practical skill. The skill of cooking, cleaning, sewing, changing the oil on my car.
When I have grandchildren of my own, are they going to know me for my fabulous cooking? The idea of grandma's home cooking will have disappeared into the wind. It'll be a myth, an old wives tale. Grandma's who can cook?

Maybe it's just me, but in the midst of my university student, part-time worker life, I don't have the time nor the interest to sit down and learn how to use a sewing machine to mend holes in ripped jeans or alter a dress that is just slightly too long.
Nobody has ever taught me how to make pot roast, or potato salad like my Oma makes it. Sure I can follow a recipe. I can cook. I can make delicious food. But, it doesn't come naturally. I don't have a lot of practice.
I have absolutely no idea what I'm looking at when I open the hood of my car. And I wouldn't have a clue when it comes to changing a tire.

We say that we've made progress in the past 40 years, but we've really just switched our perspective. Instead of learning how to 'keep house' on our own, we go to university, to get well-paying jobs and will allow us to pay other people to 'keep house' for us.
We've traded in practical skill for academics. And we're still just as smart. But we're smart in a different way.

I remember sitting down with my mom when I was about 9 years old. We picked out some fabric, a pattern, and she taught me how to sow. I ended up making an entire outfit (hideous if you ask me, or if you look at our old family albums, but nevertheless, I did it on my own).
But it wasn't a skill that I harnessed. It doesn't fit in in with my lifestyle. Or maybe its the other way around.

All I know is that there's something sad in knowing that I'll probably never have the chops that my grandmother does when I'm her age. I'll have to keep practicing. Hopefully by the time I'm married I'll be able to make a mean pot roast.

Our society loves pushing women's rights. Loves seeing women climb the social ladder to become doctors, CEO's, researchers, you name it. Even I'm thinking about one day doing my doctorate.

But if you ask me, there is something honourable in the skills my grandmother has. She has an answer for everything. And I would never take for granted one of her good home cooked meals.

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