Recently, Pam, my wife of 40 years, who is the mother of our two children, and I were talking about our moms. We recalled how their time as mothers was different and similar to the lives of mothers today.
Before our moms became moms, they had to endure a great deal of hardship. Our moms grew up as young children during the Great Depression.
Pam’s mom grew up in the country on a farm where she and her siblings worked the farm and went to school.
Even though my mom was of French descent, she grew up fatherless in New Orleans’s Irish Channel.
As young adults, they watched their brothers, cousins and friends leave for battle during World War II. Most came home; some did not.
It was after World War II that the met their husbands, both veterans of the war, settled down and became moms. Vivian, my mom, had three children. Helen, Pam’s mom, had two.
We laughed when we thought about how after they washed clothes, they had to hang them on a clothesline to dry. And, if that was not bad enough, after the clothes were dry, most of them had to be starched and ironed.
I remember my mom dropping a blue bar of Argo starch in a pot of boiling water to dissolve it, then straining the lumps of undissolved starch out in a sheet of cheese cloth. Then she ironed everything — shirts, pants, sheets, pillowcases — everything except our underwear. Good thing she didn’t iron our underwear because if memory serves me correctly, starched clothes were rough and scratchy.
Our moms cooked dinner every day from scratch. 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 unheard of and nothing that our families could afford anyway. Dinner delivered to your door? Are you kidding me?
In our mind, our moms could do anything.
They could fix any broken toy (even without duct tape), make a skinned knee feel better and make medicine taste sweeter. They were magical.
Some things may be different for moms today, but it is by no means easier.
It is just as stressful today for a mom to comfort a sick child when they are running a high fever, just as difficult to find the right words to say when they have been made fun of at school and just as hard to discipline them when they are disobedient.
And it is just as hard not to cry when, as teenagers, they hurt your feelings.
I find the following to be appropriate: “Any woman can be a mother, but it takes a special woman to be a mommy.”
Being a mom is the world’s toughest job, and so I say to all moms today: Happy Mother’s Day, and thank you for being a wonderful mom.
— Papia lives in Metairie
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