Not the good old days

The rain was pounding against the west facing windows, another streak of lightening brightened up the night sky, I tensed up for the roar to follow. The book I was reading hung limply in my hand, tucking my feet snugly under myself, I settled even further into the lazy boy I was sitting on. I listened closely to see if any of my children were wakened by the clap of thunder. The gas lantern hissed softly next to me casting shadows around the living room. Directing my attention back to my book I soon was engrossed in its pages. Dinner had long been done and over, dishes washed and stacked into the dish drainer. The storm was soothing to me. Tomorrow would bring another day full of work but for now I was enjoying reading the book I had picked up at the local library, one of the few recreation luxuries of being Amish.

I will try to explain what it was like  being an Amish woman with 5 small children, I’d wake up at 6 AM almost always feeling exhausted from being awake with a crying baby during the night. Depending on the season that’s what made my work schedule tick, if it was summer that meant a lot of outdoor work, mowing the grass with an old fashioned push lawn mower {no motor} I would do laundry Monday and Thursday with an old wringer washer that was hooked up to a small gas-powered Honda motor. Doing laundry took 4 to 5 hours, I would hang it out on a wash line to dry. If it would begin to thunder threatening rain, I would take all the laundry down and hang it under my porch. If it rained for more than 2 days, which Northeast Ohio is known to rain for a week, it would take from Monday to Thursday for the laundry to dry and Thursday I would have to do more laundry. I was constantly doing or folding laundry. By the time my children where 6 I had taught them how to fold things.

I baked twice a week most of the time on my laundry days that basically took up most of my day along with taking care of my children feeding them and doing dishes, they were taught early on how to wash and dry dishes {no dishwasher here} on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday if I wasn’t cleaning or sewing I was washing windows or some work related to keeping a house decent. It could be a challenge but I did have a lot of fun with my children. Summer we had a big garden, canning is a huge part of the Amish culture so I would pick and can beans, tomato juice, pizza sauce, apple sauce, peaches, among many other things. I did enjoy canning, I still do canning and baking. I sewed almost everything my family wore. I would buy material at a local Amish fabric store, cut and sew the dresses, pants, shirts, coats, my girls head coverings even my curtains. With my children growing so fast and going to school I would always have my sewing machine cluttered with piles of clothing to sew. This was a year-round project. I still have my sewing machine.

Sundays was a day of rest, going to visit people or church. If we went to church it would be a 4- or 5-hour event every other Sunday, on our off Sundays we would go visit family and friends. If we did stay home on our off Sundays, we would read or catch up on our sleep.

Winter was a fun time, the children loved going out into the snow sled riding, many a snowman was created on that front lawn. In winter it was a challenge to dry laundry, I would hang it out on the line and allow it to freeze, than left it out for 2 days it would dry except for along the edges then I brought it in and hung it on wooden clothing racks by our wood stove. The laundry always smelled so fresh.

I read a lot of books to my children, I would bring books home from the library and change them out every 2 weeks when I went to town for groceries. Either I would hire a taxi and go into town that way or we would drive into town with horse and buggy which took over an hour to just get there. It was a slow life, full of hard work. It taught me to appreciate working hard with your hands. I really am grateful for the skills I acquired growing up Amish. I know a lot of people are curious about the Amish. My take on it is, they are just people who have chosen a different way of making a living on our earth. Its not a bad way of life its just not for everyone who is born into the culture. We chose to leave.