I grew up with an amazing mom, an amazing grandma, and an amazing great-grandma. When I was small we lived within a few miles of both grandmas. I was talking to my children about my younger years and as I was talking it dawned on me what an amazing group of women I grew up with. They were just being moms, doing mom things but since I am now a mom and look back I am astonished.
My dear Mom is pushing seventy-six and can still work circles around most people. The neighbors are astounded at some of the things she does. She has lived with me for a long time now and she has dizzied me with her work ethics. She has a schedule for getting up, reading her Bible, then setting off to do the days chores. She stops for lunch and goes back at it until quitting time when she takes a nap before dinner. She goes a couple times a week to help her younger sister who has diabetes and is on dialysis for her kidneys as well as teaching second grade Sunday school at her church for the last thirty plus years.
When we were small and lived near my two dear grandmas this is the way the day went. Mind you my Momma had all three children by the time she was twenty-three, married at eighteen. We only had one car at that time and this was a typical day. I am not sure what time we got up in the mornings but I am sure it was early. She would make us all breakfast before we headed out. We would all pile in the car and take Dad to work, head back home and mom would have us all three spick and span and on task and have the house cleaned up in a matter of two or three hours tops. She was an immaculate house keeper too, not just a surface scratcher. Somewhere in her morning routine she read her Bible as well. We would then take off in the Morris Minor without seatbelts, all three of us standing up in the front seat and Mom’s arm was the closest thing we had to a seat belt.
This particular Morris Minor had a horn problem, us kids just kind of thought it was funny because we were not yet to the age of embarrassment. Every time we hit a bump in the road the horn would go off and Mom would say, “It’s okay, it will go off at the next bump!” *smile* We would then cruise on over to Grandma’s house and Mom would help her get her housework done as they chatted. And a couple of times a week we would jump back in the car and go over to my Great-Grandma’s house and spend a couple of hours and Mom would help her out with whatever she might need. Somewhere in the middle of all this she would put us all down for a nap, her included. All this was done and we got home in time to get supper prepared, go pick up Dad, and get home for the evening meal. Whew, it makes me tired just repeating it. You can see that this lady has got lots of energy.
My Grandma had her routine that was pretty much like my Mom’s in that she got up with Grandpa at five a.m. cooked his breakfast and sent him off to work. She read her Bible then began her housework. She would take a lunch break and start again. The only difference in Mom and Grandma’s routine that I could see was that Gram made a point to stop at I believe three in the afternoon to take a nap, get her bath, and get herself fixed up before starting supper. I recall she was always getting on to Mom about making sure she looked good for Dad when he got home.
Now Great-Grandma probably had the same routine but I never got there until about lunch time. I recall every time we would show up the table was full of food and very welcoming. Mom told me she always had leftovers for lunch but added one new thing with each meal. Great-Gram was alive until I was twelve so I have some really fond memories to hold onto. She was not like my Mom or my Grandma, at least in my little world. She was tall, serious, kind, and loving but I never recall her saying, “I love you” to any of us. But she showed it. If any of the girl grandchildren would show up with a doll she would whip out her material scraps and get on the old foot pumped sewing machine and make a new outfit toot sweet. If the boys tore a hole in their trousers she sewed them right up. She never seemed nervous or anxious but as I look back I can see when we were getting on her nerves because she would go into the kitchen and fix us a snack, usually a piece of bread with butter and sugar, a piece of lettuce with sugar, a peeled apple, or a peeled raw potato with salt. She would hand it to us and tell us to eat it on the back porch and then we pretty much played in the back yard until we left.
My Mom tells me that both my Gram and Great-Gram worked in factories during the war. Great-Gram was a seamstress and worked in an overall factory on huge sewing machines. She was really good at sewing and made her own clothes and some very pretty quilts. She was always helping other people, taking them into her home if need be. She lost her mother at I believe the age of twelve and was sent to work for another family because her Dad could not care for her and her sister. She worked her entire life and helped out so many people.
Gram worked at Nabisco I believe, making crackers. It was during or after WWII and things were hard on everyone unless they were wealthy. Mom tells me how they would wait in the lines to get butter, sugar, or bread. My Grandma was so good to all of us kids and would give us whatever she had to give. I remember her offering us a nickel or a dime to pick weeds or dust furniture. We did it willingly and were thrilled to get the money because then we would run down to the five and dime and get a bag of candy! They had bins of candy that were two for a penny and candy bars were only a nickel. These were great times and great memories.
My life is so much different than any of these three special women. I can not imagine living with such structure and strict agendas. I do have some routines but life today is pretty much flying by the seat of our pants as they say. And the agenda I do have many times gets wiped out by distractions throughout the day that get us off the track. Things have changed, partly because we have so many more “activities” that we are involved in that we did not involve ourselves in when I was young. I suppose in part it is because of new technology and more stuff that helps us to get things done faster. But just maybe it is because we do not have our priorities straight. We do not focus on our families as much as we do social activities and things outside of the home. There is nothing wrong with that, do not get me wrong, that is not what I am saying. It is just that when I think back and remember those times everything seemed so lovely, happy, and peaceful. It was a simple time and the three women in my life made it oh so special for all of us. I only hope that someday my children and grandchildren will look back and remember me with a full heart and a smile.
Ken holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College. As president of morningsidenannies.com, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.