This past weekend, thanks to Netflix, the History Channel, and 3 loads of laundry I had the opportunity to watch an episode of, America the Story of Us. The first episode discusses the establishments of the American colonies. I have to admit, it was nice for my mommy brain to have a refresher course on the establishments of Jamestown and Plymouth Colonies, especially before Thanksgiving. I have a feeling the kiddos will have a lot of exceptional questions for me, it’s wise that I start reviewing now.
As I sat there folding laundry I found myself being drawn to one particular character, Susanne Winslow. The episode addressed all the hardships the Pilgrims faced, the famine, disease, and the brutal winter when more than half the passenger that made the pilgrimage died in an epidemic referred to as “The First Sickness”. Susanna Winslow’s husband, William White, was one of the passengers who died the first winter; she remarried to Edward Winslow, whose wife Elizabeth had also died the first winter. Susanne and Edward’s was the first wedding in the new colony. They had 5 children, although only 2 lived to adulthood. It is said that roughly 10% of the US population can trace their lineage back to Susanne & Edward Winslow. I found this to be quite interesting and it got me thinking, what if Susanne Winslow could see us now? What would she think of our modern ways, of our modern women in comparison to the colonial women?
If Susanne Winslow could see us now…..
I think she would be absolutely blown away by the inventions of electricity, heat, indoor plumbing, cars, and all the awesome modern day appliances. I have a feeling she would be particularly fond of the idea of not having to empty chamber pots! I am certain she would be mesmerized by the conveniences we have like ovens, range, refrigerator, washer, & dryer. Considering the fact that most colonial women spent practically their entire days’ worth of time preparing fires, cooking, making candles, washing clothes, etc. one would think that us modern day women would really appreciate these conveniences but sadly we still complain about the amount of laundry, having to cook, and having to go shopping. Speaking of shopping, I do believe Mrs. Winslow would pass out when she saw ALL the options we have in terms of grocery stores and the abundance of food available. Food that we didn’t have to raise, tend, kill, and clean!
Famine is definitely not a problem like it was that first winter in Plymouth. Though Mrs. Winslow might be surprised to find out that with all this food we are a nation that suffers from malnourishment. That we have too many processed foods in our diets, that we have genetically modified our food, that we are consuming so many calories yet they are lacking in the nutrients, vitamins and minerals our bodies need. Our relationship with food has dramatically changed since the first colonist. We have become so obsessed with it; we no longer eat to live but rather live to eat. We are destroying our organs with these convenience foods. We are making ourselves sick.
Speaking of sick, sadly only 2 of the 5 children Mrs. Winslow had survived to adulthood. She might be overjoyed to find out that we now have immunizations against various diseases that would have wiped out generations in the past. Though, she might also be surprised to find that some Americans choose not to vaccinate their children from these diseases. She might also be staggered to find that American woman now have the option to homebirth or birth at a hospital. And yet we forget what a blessing a hospital can be if mother or baby is in distress. We have also forgotten that there are some mothers who cannot breastfeed and how fortunate we are to live during a time when fortified formula is available.
I do believe Mrs. Winslow would think that thanks to all these modern day conveniences like appliances, grocery stores, electricity, plumbing, etc. that we would have so much wonderful free time to spend with our families, playing music together, telling stories, playing games, etc. She would be extremely disappointed to find that this is not true. That we have instead overscheduled our children’s free time with organized sports and activities, that screens have become our focus, television screens, gaming systems, phones etc. that families may physically be in the same room but they are far too often not spending the time together. The quality family time that one would assume all these modern day conveniences would offer us is not so, we have lost our focus somewhere along the way.
Channeling the life of Susanne Winslow, one of the first Pilgrims has really opened my eyes to how far we have come and yet how much we have lost along our journey. We have come so far and have been blessed with so much and yet we still complain, find the negative, argue, etc.
It is fascinating how quickly our modern day lives can be put into perspective when comparing them to the hardships of colonial women. From now on I am making a valiant effort to be grateful for all my modern day conveniences and will be using my time more wisely, I kinda feel like I owe it to those strong, hardworking, persevering, determined, and amazing colonial women.