Musings on the Mower…

“I wish I lived, ‘BACK THEN’ “, my youngest daughter often blurts.

“BACK THEN?”, I reply with a little “Are you calling me OLD?!?” in my voice.

What she means, exactly, is that life seemed to be simpler, sweeter, less technical/digital. And she is right, of course! I’m really glad she notices the difference.

As I was mowing the grass a few days ago, I got to thinking more about BACK THEN . I think my thought process stemmed from the fact that I realized I have ALWAYS enjoyed mowing the grass. Not until a few years ago did I use a RIDING lawnmower. The current property where I reside requires nearly a full day of mowing using a push mower. Trust me, I’ve used that push mower on this yard many, many times. Talk about a workout! And truth be told — I kinda loved it — nice, hot sun — sweating — using my entire body to push that lawnmower over this rock-filled Colorado “grass” — seeing how fast I could go — digging my feet into the ground to give me leverage and speed — using my muscles in a very functional way. (I’m actually getting a little revved up, now, as I type out the experience).

Back to the subject of BACK THEN …

I’m proud to be from my generation and I began to think how especially proud I am of the WOMEN of my generation. We were raised to work hard. Life wasn’t handed to us. Granted, life was easier for us in many way than those of previous generations, but the tough chicks from BACK THEN, their grit and determination … their willingness to get their hands dirty, to not worry about callouses on their hands or sweat dripping from their brows — those women are my tribe.

The House that Built Me

We were born somewhere in the 60’s and lived our youth outside playing, getting dirty, swimming in ditches, racing our bicycles with the boys. We had chores we HAD TO DO — and not for money. We didn’t grow up in a fast pace, immediate satisfaction world and learned patience. We knew very little of an entitlement mentality and realized that if we wanted something, we’d have to work hard, save our nickels and dimes and WAIT. Oh but the acquisition of that thing we wanted was so sweet after all the saving and waiting!

The women from BACK THEN helped cut the grass with a push mower. We pulled weeds rather than spraying them with poison. We got on our hands and knees and scrubbed floors and washed dishes after dinner. Dishwashers? WE were the dishwashers. Many of us learned how to sew so that we could mend that pair of shorts that developed a hole in the seat. Funny to think that those kind of “holey” shorts sell for a pretty price these days. And yes, I wear them! We learned how to cook, how to budget — because we HAD to budget.

Often times, as young teens, we learned how to take care of younger siblings and essentially ran a household while both of our parents were at work during the summer. We had to get up from the couch to change the channel on the TV, had to wait a full week to see the next nail-biting episode of our favorite show.

The Muppets and Little House on the Prairie were Friday night Prime Time TV — sex didn’t sell as much nor did hardcore violence. Popcorn was popped on the stove — microwaves didn’t come along til we were almost high school graduates. We wrote hand-written love letters til our hands cramped and then we put those love letters in the mailbox after spraying a hint of perfume on the paper. We didn’t have a phone in our back pockets or permanently attached to our hands. When we wanted to talk on the phone we had to wait our turn, had a time limit and we stretched the phone cord into the closet where we could have as much privacy as possible.

There was no “hitting the SEND button”. Computers were for corporate use and took up the space of very large warehouse rooms. We asked the neighbor if we could borrow a cup of sugar and only a few of those neighbors had garages, so we waved at each other on their walk from the car to the front door. There were no tablets, laptops, smartphones, smart watches, things that beeped, buzzed or dinged and interrupted our train of thought. We read books — actual books and I can still smell the paper within the binding. We picked dandelions and made wishes, made mud pies and forts and never once thought to broadcast our every move on social media. Our social media was Friday night movie night in the living room with our friends or family and popcorn or chips and dip.

I feel like my age 50-something counterparts learned so many great life and living lessons that perhaps some in this current generation miss out on. Was my generation perfect? Absolutely not. Did it have its own issues/problems? Of course. Were we perfect little angels? Ummmm … a resounding NO! But I feel we knew our place in this world and we understood how to get things done. How to make things happen. We weren’t pulled in so many directions nor did we have the technological advances that did our work for us. We weren’t bombarded as much by all the information. And being “worldly-wise” wasn’t a good thing, BACK THEN. There was a bit more innocence and we didn’t feel we were necessarily “missing out” or that we were less mature because of the lack of street knowledge.

It’s not this generation’s fault, really. Life is just different now than it was BACK THEN. And my daughter notices the difference. She longs for something she’s never really had except that I have demonstrated a little of what it was like by the way I parent her. And I believe the other women of my generation — my tribe of women — have done the same thing in many ways. They’ve carried on the good of BACK THEN and have passed it down as best they can.

There is something to be said about those days BACK THEN. They were good days. They were days of true “work hard, play hard” living. There was a toughness developed. We, as a generation of women BACK THEN have, now, a different resolve and yet have maintained a certain, sweet softness that seems less prevalent today. I’m glad my daughter recognizes it and longs for it because maybe it means I’ve done something right in the way of passing down a legacy.

And as I made another swath across the yard, musing on my mower, and living out the glory days in my head, I smiled. That smell of freshly cut grass in my nostrils. The sun on my skin and the sweat on my forehead. My mind, a movie reel of memories. BACK THEN has seeped into the here and now and I secretly applaud myself for passing the baton of that time gone by.

And to seal the deal … I go looking for that push mower …

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