Have you ever noticed that the vast majority of historical information is dedicated to the exploits of men? Wars. Regimes. Exploration. The fact is that we often don’t have a clue what was going on in a day-to-day, routine sort of way in most periods in history. Especially in the lower classes. I call this Uterine History, and it’s shamefully overlooked.
How on earth did women with toddlers manage to keep them from burning themselves on the wood stoves they labored over for much of the day? (Well, yeah, many of them didn’t, which is why so many children didn’t survive to adulthood, but how did ANY of them succeed?)
How did you manage to find the time and supplies to sew clothes when out on the prairie, days away from civilization? If you dropped a needle through a crack in the floorboard, your family would be wearing rags. How did you feed your family when the men were off to war? In times of drought, what did you do when your children cried out for water? What did they do for toilet paper in the year 1000? How did you cope with menstruation while toiling in the fields? How did you handle childbirth when you were never even taught the birds and the bees?
It’s the daily grind of life that is often passed over in the history books, because, frankly, people engaged in that grind didn’t have time to write about it. You don’t even see cave paintings depicting people doing laundry or cooking or fetching water or changing whatever passed for diapers.
I used to think history equaled what happened in the past, but really it equals what people felt was worthy of mention, completely ignoring the fact that if someone didn’t take the time to cook, no one ate.
Inuit Woman With Child. 1900. Alaska.
[Image credit: facebook.com/mosesonthemesa]