Sunday, May 1, 2016

Old School Mothering

With Mother's Day only a few days away, I thought I'd address our mothers, the mothers of the 60's and 70's.  They were of a hardier stock than us.  Raising children without all of our modern conveniences and the vital information needed and, yet, doing a bang up job, I might add. 

So, in their honor, I want to recognize the mothers out there who packed our metal lunchboxes without the convenience of Snack Packs, Handi-Packs, and Variety Packs.  No, you were old school with your big bag of Golden Flake cheese curls, a pack of Butter Rings, and some sandwich bags with handy tie closures.  Crustables?  Hot Pockets?  Pshhh.  Not for you.  It was a loaf of Sunbeam, a pack of bologna, a jar of Blue Plate, and a block of cheese, all cut at a diagonal with the crust manually removed.  There were no foil pouch drinks to throw in there either.  No, you had to wash our Charlie's Angels thermos, make a pitcher of Kool-Aid, and pour it in there with a couple of ice cubes you'd popped out of the trays.   

You didn't even have cartoon channels to entertain us all day.  If Electric Company was over, you were out of luck until the next day.  There were no tablets or iPhones to keep us occupied in waiting rooms or while you shopped.  You actually had to talk to us.  I mean, there wasn't anything else to do.  You couldn't call your friends while we were in the car either.  You had to wait until we got home so you could use the phone on the kitchen wall.  So, you had to sing and play a lot of car games with us to pass the time.               

You didn't have Pinterest or Facebook or Instagram or Twitter.  Bless your heart.  You didn't have recipes, theme party ideas, decorating tips, and a daily dose of insecurity-feeding comparison right at your finger tips 24/7. Nothing by which to gauge your social standing.  Nothing to help you assess the job you were doing as a parent.  Nothing to monitor how you were doing in keeping up with the Joneses.  Nothing to guide you toward what's trending when making decisions for your family. That must have been hard for you.         

You made pies before store bought pie crusts were a thing.  You cut up chickens. You set the table.  Made Sunday lunch.  Never fed us in the car.  Supper was something you made at home and was eaten around a table.  You washed dishes by hand.  Kept ice trays full.  You baked our birthday cakes.  Made Rice Krispie treats without a microwave.  You fried chicken in Crisco.  Your spaghetti sauce didn't come from a jar.  Your macaroni and cheese wasn't safety cone orange. 

You didn't have the convenience of the time out chair or the treat jar.  No, discipline meant you had to get your hands dirty.  Swatting at bare legs with your hand or a belt to the bottom.  A switch, a wooden spoon, anything would work. Sure, there were some slammed doors and a lot of tears but you took it all in stride.  After all, I guess you thought the goal was to make decent adults out of us not best friends. 

You didn't have the luxury of the embroidery machine to personalize everything from our pencil bags down to our underwear.  No, but you were quite crafty with the magic marker monogramming that you did inside our jackets and book bags and, well, it got the job done. 

You didn't have online shopping so the need for anything would require that you load us up in the car and traipse all over town until we found it.  Store to store.  In and out.  In and out.  At least, though, you didn't have to worry with those pesky seatbelts which were stuffed so far down into the vinyl seats that you couldn't have found them anyway.   

And anytime a report assignment was given to us at school, it meant driving us all down to the library and pointing us in the direction of the card catalog.  You had to help us find where the heck 021.009 HOB was.  Heaven forbid it was already checked out and we had to go back home and borrow the neighbor's outdated World Book Encyclopedia. 

When we got older and started driving, you had no way to know if we made it safely until we got there.  No, you had to worry and worry until we could arrive at our destination and find a pay phone to call you.  And if we were late getting home, well, you were all alone with your imagination until we finally showed up.  You couldn't text us while we were in school to ask if we'd finished our project or if we'd worked out the problem with our friend.  You had to wait until we got home and, even then, you, sometimes, thought it was best if we dealt with it on our own without your intervention.  You didn't have any means by which you could stay in communication with us every minute of the day.  You couldn't even text us to come to the dinner table.  You had to do it the old-fashioned way and scream our first, middle, and last names down the hall and then count to 3 if you needed to. 

You couldn't google questions about us......or search WebMD........or email Focus on the Family.  No, it was left to your own judgment as to whether we had a concussion, a case of tetanus, or a multiple personality disorder.  These conclusions were usually derived from at-home diagnostic testing like "How many fingers am I holding up?'....."Can you move it?"....or "When's the last time you went to the bathroom?"      

You did so much that our generation didn't have to do as mothers. 

You washed our cloth diapers and had to stick those pins through them without puncturing our small intestines.   

You rolled our hair every Saturday night on pink sponge tight that our eyes were slanty.

You mastered those twin bead ponytail holders and, how, I'll never know.

You managed to keep us from swallowing those bite-sized Fisher Price people that came with our schoolhouse and circus train.

You didn't let us turn over in those top heavy walkers or fall to our deaths from those rickety high chairs.

You always had our painter's pants looking as white as snow and without Oxi-Clean. 

You kept us from flying through the windshield with the quick draw of your right arm across our chests as we moved around the car at will.

You reminded us to be careful when we went out in traffic on our bikes since there was nothing but prayer between our heads and the pavement. 

You sewed the pom-poms back on our footie socks when they'd gotten loose.

You needlepointed Holly Hobbie to adorn our rooms. 

You dabbed a little clear nail polish on our pantyhose runs to keep them from getting out of control. 

You were awesome. 

Just awesome.                 

There were some things you didn't do, though.  I hate to even bring them up.  But, we can't blame you, really, because you just didn't know any better.

You never called out our ball coaches or got in their faces when they didn't play us.  Knowing good and well, we were better than all the other kids out there and, most likely, destined to go pro, one day. 

You didn't buy us cars that were nicer than yours.  In most cases, they were so bad that we named them.  Naming them was our coping mechanism to help us endure the humiliation of driving a pea green used car that was as long as a city block.       

You didn't hire a photographer for our prom like it was our wedding day or something. 

You never told us how we were the best at everything and how we deserved the top spot at anything.  You didn't even fill our daily schedules with lessons and practices and push us to be out front and outshine the other kids.  You wasted so many of our afternoons by just letting us stay at home and play outside.  It's most likely the reason why we never made it to Broadway or the MLB. 
You and our fathers didn't go out in a field of wildflowers and have pregnancy pictures made, depriving us of the chance to know what your bare bellies looked like when you were carrying us.  This has taken years for us to overcome.   

Not once did you go to the school and defend us and put the teachers in their place.  What was that about? 

You, apparently, didn't know you were supposed to take enough pictures of us to compose a short film each day.   Heck, we were lucky if you went through a roll of film and a pack of flash cubes in two year's time.

You were, obviously, unaware that using phrases like, "I'm gonna beat the living daylights out of you," or "I'm gonna whip you so hard, you won't be able to sit down for a week" could cause irreparable harm to our fragile psyches and give us lifelong trust issues. 

If we got a new toy, you had the gall to tell us to read the directions and figure it out for ourselves when you could have done it so much faster and saved us a lot of trouble. 

You sent us outside with a bag of firecrackers and a box of matches and never once did you hover or fret or make us wear safety goggles.  I guess you thought we had enough common sense and fear of pain to make good decisions. 

You let us fill out our store bought Valentines all by ourselves.  I suppose you thought it was ok that our valentines looked like a child had done them.  Embarrassing.   

You thought we'd be happy with a little birthday cake in the backyard with a handful of neighborhood kids when all we secretly wanted was a 3 ring circus with live animals, overstimulation, and hundreds of our best friends to shower us with enough gifts for all the children in the tri-county area.

I guess we'll forgive you.  Bless your hearts.  You just didn't know. 

I suppose, we'll cut you some slack.........because, well, the cloth diaper thing.

Personally, I think we benefited from an amazing generation of mothers.  Sometimes, I wish we didn't have so many tools and information and conveniences to help us with this parenting thing today.  Our kids might be better off.  And us, too. 

Only 6 shopping days to get your Mother something nice! 

Happy Monday, y'all.     



  1. Good morning Joni, you pretty much summed up my childhood and described my mom and dad.
    I think too, most kids will never experience being just a regular kid. I know, go with the times, technology can be a good thing.
    Ha! I'm beginning to sound like my mom, "back in the olden days".
    But so true, I survived the wooden spoon, only when I did something big, it wasn't a daily punishment.
    And drinking the Kool aid, making many of frozen popsicles.
    Thank you for writing about childhood!
    Have a wonderful day, Kathleen in Az

    1. Good times, Kathleen. They really were the good ol' days. :)

  2. So true, yet so funny! How did we survive the neglect?!

    1. That's what I want to know, Dee! It's amazing.

  3. This is soooo good and so true! LOVE IT!!