We Real Women are busy creatures. Each day we seem to attempt to fit more and more into the same number of hours. We are the Queens of to-do lists, beating deadlines and multi-tasking. If there is a way to do something quicker, easier and more efficiently, we are all over it.
Not accidentally, there is a plethora of convenience products on the market. There are even companies with full catalogs devoted to the promise of providing “products that make life easier” (www.solutions.com). Let’s face it, R.W.’s, we are the reason such things exist.
Simply by walking down the grocery store aisle or opening my mail, I can find items like pre-moistened cleaning wipes, sliced blocks of cheese, cooked & seasoned chicken, and a circular brush to remove that pesky silk from corn stalks. Years ago, when products like these started to appear on store shelves, my initial reaction was of shock: how lazy does a person have to be to buy that? But now I realize we are not lazy. We are busy.
I grew up with a crafty, thrifty stay-at-home mom. I was also active in 4-H. (Back in those days, 4-H was a regular part of life where we learned valuable domestic skills). Any time we went shopping and came across anything of interest, like clothing, home décor or food, the first question to ask was “can I make this for less at home?”. Then we actually took the time to go home and construct whatever it was ourselves.
So I find myself at a paradox. In my head, my first reaction will always be to make something myself from scratch, for better value. But my reality is I’m busy. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to follow that home-spun angel of conscience on my shoulder. The lure of speed and convenience is just too strong. And so I find myself cutting corners. I certainly know how to use a traditional mop on my floors, I know how to cut my own food, cook my own chicken, and use my own hands to clean a corn stalk. However sometimes, just sometimes, I’ll step over to the dark side in favor of saving time.
I must admit that I hit an all-time low in corner-cutting this weekend. We had a Fall kick-off event at church. I remembered the night before that we were asked to bring a salad, side dish, or dessert to contribute. Knowing full well that the tables would be laden with baked goods (we Episcopalians love our sweets), I felt compelled to provide something else. The “old” me would have planned ahead, and created a large and flavorful green salad, or a veritable cornucopia of cut up fruit. Instead, the “new” me ran in to the grocery store on the way to church, bought (gasp!) pre-cut watermelon and pineapple, strawberries, and a container of fruit dip. I literally assembled the fruit in the parking lot, using a disposable tray I had brought from home, and rinsing the strawberries from a water bottle.
Voila. Ten minutes later I arrived to church with a not-so-elegant contribution. Perhaps it was the image in my mind of mom’s shocked face, or the pre-church cursing I had done in my car while trying to open the containers, but I felt just a wee bit guilty. My inner Suzy Homemaker had been replaced by Rushed and Cheating Suzy.
Later as I greeted others during the festivities and watched my son having a great time with the youth group, I realized that no one really cares that I didn’t make something more labor-intensive and from scratch. There will be another opportunity for me to show off my salad making capabilities in the future. Similarly, at home it doesn’t matter how I got my house clean, just that I got it done in time to hang out with my guys and watch a movie.
How we live our lives has shifted with time. We cut corners where we need to, and take advantage of conveniences in order to make room for the more important things in life. This really isn’t a new concept. After all, wasn’t it Plato who said “Necessity is the mother of invention”? I’ll bet he wasn’t talking about corn stalk brushes… but he’d probably think they were pretty nifty.