Things Mothers Do

imageI miss all the things my mother used to do for me. Even though she had to get up to a freezing house at five-thirty in winter to do it, she always had a hot breakfast on the table when we got up, usually hot biscuits, eggs, fresh milk, homemade jam or preserves, and either grits or oatmeal.  Like most kids, I didn’t want it, but she insisted. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!”  After the whirlwind of getting the older kids on the bus, she’d wash, iron, clean, sew, and tend the garden.  When she finished her own pleasant tasks, She’d do whatever extra things Daddy had lined up to help her pass the time, all between taking care of however many of the children might be babies or toddlers.

Laundry and ironing weren’t easy in the 1950s and 60s.  Mother had a wringer washer and clothes line a lot of the time I was growing up.  Daddy eventually replaced it with a barely functional used automatic washer after she had her fourth baby.  It was a boon when it worked, a curse during its frequent breakdowns, leaving her to do diapers on a rub-board and wait for the neighbor repairman.  Mr. J.T. had a real job and worked calls in when he could.

She boiled starch for our prissy ruffled, dresses, Daddy’s and my brother’s pants and shirts, sprinkled them with her coke bottle-capped sprinkler, then set herself to the task of ironing forty or fifty pieces of cotton clothing each week. One glorious Christmas, Grandma gave her a steam iron and changed her life forever.

By the time we got in from school, Mother had a big dinner underway: meat, either beans or peas, and another vegetable, potatoes, fried or mashed with gravy, and biscuits or cornbread. If there wasn’t dessert, Daddy complained.  She couldn’t get by more than two nights without dessert of some type without trouble.  Everything was homemade.  I really miss all the wonderful things my mother did for me and didn’t appreciate at the time.  Oh, she’s not dead.  She’s alive and well living seven miles from me.  She just won’t do these things anymore.

50 thoughts on “Things Mothers Do

  1. I remember the freezing cold. Scraping the ice off the inside windows. No central heating. Also trying to pull apart the sheets frozen together on the washing line. Those were the days.. BUT I still prefer to hand wash my items. Not let it get bashed to bits in the washer and dryer.

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  2. Everyday things were so much more difficult back then. My grandmother used a wringer washer until late in the 1980s. I’m so glad that’s something I don’t have to deal with but also thankful I was able to see how much harder chores were for older generations.

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  3. My mother worked at a place outside the home.
    My dad did most of the cooking, and he’s a wonderful cook, but he didn’t get up to make hot breakfast, lol! On Saturdays, my mother sometimes made pancakes or crepes, which were surely the best days ever. In fact, the things she did make well, on those rare weekend meals, are the things I consider comfort food now. The tender potatoes and carrots cooked alongside a roast…
    I’m up with my kids, but hot breakfast is not the norm, smoothies are pretty common though. I made fried egg sandwiches this morning, and Sassy didn’t want one. She’d rather have blueberry muffins or cornbread, but I didn’t get up at 5:30. At 5:30, I was still snuggling my youngest from a bad dream.
    I love that. I love not working at a place outside the home.

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  4. You paint a picture so familiar to me, as usual, Miss Linda. The soda bottle sprinkler, wringer washer, clothes line hanging; I remember learning to iron on dad’s cotton underwear, which were kept in the frig just before ironing. The cooked breakfast, homemade everything; all came from my grandmother, our first mom ! Thanks for sharing, and Happy Mother’s Day ! 💕 Van

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    • OMG – I thought my mother was the only one who kept damp clothes (including Dad’s undershorts) in the fridge before ironing! When I got big enough, I was taught to iron – and I was so embarrassed to have to iron Dad’s undershorts.

      We also had the wringer washer and the outside clothes lines. In addition, we had an attic where we could hang the clothes on rainy days or in the winter. Sometimes the clothes froze up there.

      But the experience was OK. When my dryer breaks down, I know just what to do until it can be repaired.

      Happy Mother’s Day!

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  5. Your Mum sounds amazing. Please can you answer a question that I’ve always wanted to know the answer to, as an inhabitant of over on the other side of the Atlantic. what the heck are grits?

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  6. Rosa Ave Fénix says:

    Mothers always have been the most important person in a family… everything had to pass for their hands. You were lucky to have such tasty breakfast… for me it was different, in those days my country had suffered a civil war and food was scanty, poor. Luckily now is completely different.

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  7. It can be hard work being a mum, especially back in the 50s and 60s when everything was so much more time-consuming (not to mention back-breaking)! `What a wonderful role model your mum is and I wish her and you a Happy Mother’s Day, 🙂

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