Outside my door I see a view, not of roofs, antennas and fences but one of a vast scene of snow-capped mountains and rolling farm land. It’s a view so unique and special to rural NZ and my back door. Outside my door I hear my pigs in the paddock below, snorting, ready for their breakfast and sometimes I can hear frogs croaking in the swamp. Then I breathe a breath that I don’t have to think about and take for granted the smell of nothing, just clean fresh air. Every day I give all of this no real thought but it’s always there – every day.
Inside my house, my bench needs clearing and the dish washer needs unpacking. I pick the odd socks off of the floor and the vacuum cleaning needs to be done. My boys have gone to school and my day begins. I don’t have to get in my car to travel to work as I’m self-employed and work from home.
Lately I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a woman living in rural NZ. Years ago our Grandmothers and Great Grandmothers were adaptable and worked hard physically. They were the home makers where they cooked, cleaned, washed and sewed but made the best of their lives. If they didn’t have it they would make do. The rural vistas were the same for them as they are for us today. I wonder how they really felt about the days ahead of them. Were they lonely or didn’t they have time for that while managing their families and house hold tasks?
Today rural women cook and clean too. But we have a gadget for everything. Labour saving devices have helped us simplify our homely tasks or maybe they have created more for us to do? Maybe if it wasn’t for all of these gadgets, we women wouldn’t have the time for all the rest of stuff we cram in to our busy lives. Our cars mean we can travel and we rural women travel far and wide. Our children go to play centre, sports practice, sports games, music lessons, brownies, scouts, learn to swim and school activities all in a space of seven days. At the end of the day when we turn the lights off – not when the sun goes down, we crawl to bed and if you listen you can hear the bread maker working, the dish washer washing and the washing machine whirring.
Being a woman living in rural NZ means we can support our little communities like no other. Without people like us there would be no community. We are the presidents, secretaries, fundraisers, treasurers and event organisers for all our community clubs and organisations. We bake the cakes for morning teas and share our preserves made from our garden in times when our neighbours and friends need a helping hand.
We put on our gumboots, tail the lambs, help milk the cows, shift the stock, build the fences and some of us love mud too. We can drive tractors, ride motorbikes and aren’t afraid to do a hard day’s work. Sometimes we can do all of this with a baby in a back pack too.
Our rural children are the luckiest children. They help and watch while we work. We teach them good practical country ethics whether they know it or not. Our country kids learn by doing. They can grow up caring for animals, climbing trees, playing with their neighbours, live without playstations (most of the time), dig for worms and kick a ball as far as they want too. We tend the vegetable garden to feed our children with the very best the soil can provide.
There are abbreviations for what we do and who we are. I’m a WAHM which is a Work at Home Mum. Or there is SAHM which means Stay At Home Mum. I don’t know what the abbreviation is for women who on top of everything I’ve talked about above that also have a job outside the home. Maybe they could be called WW – Wonder Women?
The rural view outside my back door.