Recently I’ve been wondering about what things were like for our mothers when they were raising us, or what things have changed since our grandmothers were raising kids. I had the opportunity to sit down with my grandma, Louise, and ask her some questions about raising her children. Thought I’d share it here in case anyone else is curious as well…
First a little background…my grandma was married at the age of 30 and had her twin girls (one of which is my mom) when she was 31. At age 34 she had her 3rd child, at age 37 her 4th, and she had her 5th child at age 40! I only have two, and they keep me busy…so I can’t imagine five! She said she always wanted to have a big family.
Before I could even get to my questions, she started by telling me that the main difference between then and now is that things are much more complicated now. They didn’t use car seats back then, or even seat belts! They didn’t have all the gear we have and didn’t worry about applying sunscreen, etc. She did have a double stroller for the twins, which she borrowed from someone, and told a story about going to a department store, but the stroller wouldn’t fit through the doors. So she took one of the twins out, walked in to the store, handed her off to a fellow customer, and went back out for the other one! I can’t imagine that I would feel safe doing that nowadays…
So, on to the questions:
Me: How did you keep up with maintaining a household (cleaning, cooking, etc.) with 5 kids? Grandma: The kids had chores. Every Saturday I made a list, and each kid had to do what was on their list. (My mom interjected at this point to let me know that one of her chores was to make my grandma and grandpa’s bed. Hmmm….good idea.)
Some more notes on maintaining the household: My grandma also mentioned that they had dinner together as a family every night and that once the twins were in Junior High they had a home economics course and were required to cook dinner once a week, so that helped out some. She also sewed most of the children’s clothes herself. She packed the kid’s lunches for school and would often include homemade cookies (YUM!) which they would trade for twinkies (YUCK!) She told me that she starched all of her husband’s shirts, used cloth diapers, and didn’t even have a dryer until the twins were older…when she got one as a Christmas present. Another one of the twin’s jobs was to iron all their father’s handkerchiefs.
Me: What were finances like? Grandma: Well, we lived on one income most of the time. We didn’t use credit cards. We just bought only what we could afford at the time. We were fairly thrifty. We only had one car, didn’t own a TV, didn’t go on many vacations, I made most of the children’s clothes and we ate most of our meals at home.
Me: What types of activities were the kids involved in? Grandma: The twins took music lessons, but at that time there weren’t as many sports and activities for kids to do. They also did Girl Scouts for a little bit. Mostly the children would just play outside with the neighborhood kids. We also had church activities.
Me: What were some of the main values you desired to instill in your kids and what were some of the ways you tried to instill those values? Grandma: The main value I desired to instill in my children was a faith in God. We read Bible stories on a regular basis, sang songs, and were very involved at our church. The kids always attended youth camps in the summer.
Me: What were some of your favorite family traditions? Grandma: Celebrating Christmas. We had our gift exchange on Christmas Eve and a family dinner.
Me: For you, what is one of the hardest things about being a mom? Grandma: When you feel that a child of yours is not walking with the Lord as you hoped they would.
Me: What is one of the most rewarding things about being a mom? Grandma: The love that your kids give you. Undeserved, unrequested, just given freely.
Me: What tips do you have for today’s moms? Grandma: Teach your children to have responsibility for their things and for their actions. Teach them to understand that there are consequences in life. I feel that I fell short on giving affirmation I wish I would have done more of that. I think it’s important to give some praise, but not too much, so it’s about finding a good balance. I also wish I would have told my children that I loved them more often.
My grandma is an amazing, Godly woman. She is also a very talented toll painter and I have many hand-painted treasures that she has given me over the years. During her most recent visit she painted these rain gutter bookshelves for my daughter’s room. She also made quilts for each of her fourteen grandchildren for when each of us get married. She is a wonderful cook and makes the most delicious coffee bread. I’ve never attempted it myself but I will one of these days.
I think out of everything she said, what I appreciate most was her advice to praise your children and tell them how much you love them.