Originally published Feb 27, 2009

Although it was forecast well in advance, the latest bout of severe weather seemed to take most of us by surprise and much of our regular routine had to be revised. How many times do you hear it said, ‘One heavy fall of snow and the country comes to a standstill!’

Such extreme conditions are very unusual and therefore must have some affect on us all. Especially our Primary Schools where the children have to be escorted to and from home. This duty usually falls on the mother who has to fit it in with the job she does so alternative arrangements have to be made quickly. This also applies to mothers with younger children in day nursery’s.

The Children’s Society reported that most mothers of babies under 12 months work while their children are looked after in childcare. There are many reasons why families in our communities today split up and youngsters find themselves living with step-parents. Sometimes this can make matters worse and result in them no longer having grandparents to call on for help.

The same Society also stated that, ‘Economic independence has made women much less dependent on male partners’. Why would anyone be surprised at that? Surely that is what was intended from the time sexual equality was first conceived.

The tragedy is that nobody considered or was able to even start to imagine the consequences and stress that it would put on both parents and children.

Did You Know?

Before the last war very few people had this kind of thing to deal with and didn’t know what stress was. They had never heard of it. That doesn’t mean they had no worries! There were lots of things for them to fret about. In particular, it was an ongoing struggle to feed and clothe their family and keep a roof over their heads. Today, no one in this country needs to starve. Our main concern seems to be the ability to build on what we already have.

Our forebears invariably put family first and worked hard to keep a home and refuge for every one of its members. They did sometimes remarry but as there was no such thing as a divorce it was usually after the death of one partner. At such times it was usual for the new spouse to step into the shoes and take over the duties of the one they were replacing. That way there was less upset for the children and families were not so often broken up.

People were not nearly as affected by adverse weather as they are today. A wooden horse drawn plough was used to clear the snow from the main roads while citizens were responsible for keeping the pavement in front of their property safe for pedestrians. Children who were old enough walked to school on their own and often took younger brothers and sisters with them. Schools were usually quite near and rarely had cause to be closed.

Deep falls of snow were always enjoyed by past generations. Just as much and perhaps in some cases even more than they are today. As soon as a layer of white covered the ground, sledges seemed to appear from nowhere with people of all ages making for the fields and open spaces to join in the fun. Nobody gave a thought about being cold and wet. There were far less restrictions on what they could and couldn’t do in those days and consequently more licence was given and taken.

The way families lived with a strict daily routine was conducive to the close bonding they all seemed to achieve. Everyone had their own seat at the table where they all sat down to eat three times a day. In some cases, if anyone was late for the meal they didn’t get anything to eat until the next one. Generally, there was not much of a choice put before them but even during the war with the strict rationing something was always found to fill empty stomachs.

Could it be that widespread poverty and shortages helped to bind families and communities closer together? It does seem that the more we have the more we want and the more greedy we become. Of course, those that have the most are likely to be the hardest hit at times likes this when all we hear about is recession, credit crunch, repossessions etc. Perhaps, when the mega rich have taken all we have, they will leave us alone so we can start again with a determination to be content and make the most of our lives with what we have.

valley lad – [SIXTYTWO]








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