I think the common factor for most mothers could be summed up by saying that a Mother seeks to protect and care for their child or children as best they can! Circumstances play an important role in just how they strive to achieve the best for their children.
Of course, mothering has been done by many who are not biological mothers. The person who has adopted a child; the aunt or sister who has taken in a child of a relative to love and protect as her own; the stranger who has opened wide her arms and supported and loved a child. All of these and many more are truly mothers.
It is down to us to love, protect and support our children, our grandchildren and for some of us, our great grandchildren to the best of our ability.
Being a mother during the 1940s
I was born between the depression and World War II and my own Mother now fits into my thoughts about Mothers.
I remember living at Epping in an old house with a lovely garden. I was very concerned because there were Cosie heaters in several of the rooms but no fireplaces with chimneys – how would Santa get in? One school holidays I made posies from the flowers in our garden and gave them to men going past my house on their way home after work ‘to take home to their wives’. The game was up when one of the recipients called at the house to give my mother some material samples for me to play with. My Mum taught me gently about stranger danger.
Our clothes line stretched across the back yard, I loved it when Mum used a long pole to push the line right up high so that the clothes danced in the breeze. There were lots of holes in the ground, it was summer and there had been little rain so the grass was dry and crackly. I was poking my fingers into the holes when Mum warned me that there could be spiders down those holes. ‘Struth!’ I explained. It became a forbidden word, my Mum was teaching me about acceptable language.
We moved to the Country
My Dad was transferred to Yass and we settled into a rented house. My Grandmother had given Mum and Dad a large floor rug which was predominantly pink. Mum hated it so she dyed the pink parts with green food colouring. The grocer wondered what she was doing; he had never sold so much green food colouring before! The cost and availability of new linen made it hard to replace anything during war time and I watched as my Mum split sheets down the centre and rejoined them at the sides, and sewed together threadbare towels to make bath mats. My mum was teaching me to be adaptive and find ways to solve problems.
I was enjoying school and was very proud to have a composition chosen as the best for the week. I was able to bring home the special composition book to write my story into it. I had a lot of homework that night and it was getting late as I began to add my contribution to the special book. “You are too tired Nancy, off to bed with you.” When I got up next morning, oh disaster, she had finished copying the story into The book! Was I in trouble when I produced the book at school! That is when I learned from my Mum when not to interfere with the tasks my children were entrusted to do!!
My Mum was Creative.
She could turn an army blanket into an overcoat for my brother, make me a new dress from scraps of material, make all the presents she gave for birthdays and Christmas. She could turn a tomato into a flower. She could even make flowers from bread! Just by watching her, my Mum taught me to be creative.
It was a thrill to be taken to the Pictures; oh the serials were exciting. I was about 8 when Mum gave me two shillings and asked me to go to the shop next-door to buy liquorice allsorts. I was so pleased to be trusted to actually go and buy something by myself. I spoiled it a bit when I came back with 2/- worth of allsorts of liquorice! My Mum was trying to teach me to be independent but she actually taught me to listen more closely.
When the war ended my Dad was transferred to Dungog but there was no accommodation for us so we moved in with my grandparents at Parramatta for a few months until the tenant in our house at Seaforth was relocated. We moved back to Seaforth and there was a lot of work to be done. The lawn was so high and overgrown that Mum had to cut part of it with scissors. She also transplanted a neat row of onion weeds thinking they were neglected bulbs. My Mum didn’t teach me how to garden, my Dad did that.
What was it like for mothers in your youth? Share your stories below…