Recently Pam, my wife of 40, the mother of our two children, and I were talking about our mothers. We remembered that their time as mothers was different and similar to the life of mothers today.
Before our mothers became mothers, they had to endure great difficulties. Our mothers grew up as small children during the Great Depression.
Pam’s mother grew up on a farm in the country where she and her siblings worked on the farm and went to school.
Although my mother was of French descent, she grew up in the Irish Channel from New Orleans without a father.
As young adults, they watched their brothers, cousins, and friends go into battle during World War II. Most came home; Some didn’t.
After World War II, husbands, both veterans of the war, met and became mothers. Vivian, my mother, had three children. Helen, Pam’s mother, had two.
We laughed as we thought about how they had to hang them on a clothesline to dry after washing their clothes. And if that wasn’t bad enough, most of them had to be starched and ironed after the clothes were dried.
I remember my mother dropping a blue bar of Argo starch into a pan of boiling water to dissolve it, then straining out the undissolved lumps of starch in a sheet of cheesecloth. Then she ironed everything – shirts, pants, sheets, pillow cases – everything but our underwear. It’s good she didn’t iron our underwear, because if the memory serves me properly, starched clothes were rough and scratchy.
Our mothers cooked dinner from scratch every day. Pam’s family grew their own vegetables so they always had fresh vegetables for dinner. We got our fresh vegetables from Schwegmann’s. Fast food was virtually unknown and nothing our families could afford anyway. Dinner delivered to your door? Are you kidding me?
In our minds, our mothers could do anything.
They could fix any broken toy (even without tape), make a skinned knee feel better, and make the medicine taste sweeter. You were magical.
Some things may be different for mothers today, but it is by no means easier.
It’s just as stressful for a mother today to comfort a sick child when they have a high fever, just as difficult to find the right words if they made fun of themselves in school, and just as difficult to discipline them when they did have it are disobedient.
And it’s just as hard not to cry when they hurt your feelings as a teenager.
I think the following is appropriate: “Any woman can be a mother, but it takes a special woman to be a mother.”
Being a mother is the toughest job in the world and that’s why today I say to all mothers: Happy Mother’s Day and thank you for being a wonderful mother.
– Papia lives in Metairie
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