Being a busy working parent my schedule in the morning is military. Negotiating with a five-year-old to eat his cereal, whilst putting the washing on with one hand and getting myself dressed with the other, is a daily scene. If one of my cats throws up on the sofa as we’re running for the door, it’s left as a present for Mr Hayley later. I have no time to waste in the morning, none. I’ve always thought the generations before had it much easier. That was until I had a run-in with a granny at the school gates.
Parking at school is always tough so I did what some cars do, bump up ever so slightly on the pavement. As soon as my little one was safely in the building, I ran to the car in a rush, jumped in and reversed into the car behind me. There was no damage but an onlooker in her 70s gave me what for. Not for reversing into the car, but for parking on the pavement.
I didn’t have time for a confrontation but I told her not to give me a hard time as I’m a good woman, a working parent trying to teach my child good values by holding down a job, whilst trying to do everything else for my family, and how she must have had it much easier in her day. Most likely she didn’t have to bring in two full-time wages, was probably around more for her family, and was not pushed to her mental limits on a daily basis.
I’m just trying to do my best I can in the time I have and I told her to get off my back for parking half a wheel on the pavement.
My leaving statement again, was how she had it much easier in her day. She disagreed strongly, shook her head and walked up the road.
I was annoyed. However, I started to have a good think. Was it easier for her and her family? How did she manage without instant hot water, washing machines, dish washers, tumble dryers etc? Yet she probably had more time at home. Was there less to spend money on and more time for family?
A few days later karma bit me on the bum in the form of my washing machine packing in. Despite Rab the washing machine guru’s best efforts, a new one was needed and was due to arrive nine days later. Yes, this all happened over a bank holiday – sigh.
It was then that I realised the daily grind of doing a family wash with no machine (despite the lovely ladies at Abbeyhill Laundrette taking three loads) was really tough. I had a lot to do and my hands were like Gollum from Lord of the Rings after my seventh hand wash.
It was at this point I realised that the wee granny at the school might not have had to work full-time but the work that kept her family going – which we’ve replaced with appliances nowadays – was her full-time job and actually she didn’t have it easier, we do.
I now have a new-found respect for the ladies who washed all those double sheets with a mangle by hand and will never take my washing machine, or the wee grannies, for granted ever again. If you’re a granny, thank you, us ladies nowadays could learn a thing or two from you all.
Hayley Matthews is a presenter on STV2