Today is GOOD Friday.  Sunday is COMING.

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55

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“Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
The Glory of God has defeated the night!”

Thanks you for being here, beloved one.

Dear Violet’s story is our first of many in a new series on vintage motherhood . . .

Q:  Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today.

A:  {nods, humbly}

Q:  Can you start out by telling me how many children you have and when were they born?

A:  I have two boys.  They were born 18 months apart in the 1950s. 

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Q:  And what was life like as a mother in the 1950s?  How do you suppose it compared to motherhood today?

A:  Well the biggest difference was the lack of today’s conveniences!  I did not have a dryer or a dishwasher.  We had one car.  My husband was gone to work with the car during the day so I was at home all day with the children.  I also didn’t have a telephone. 

Q:  Can you tell me what your experience was like when you were expecting your first baby?

A:  My first was born in the month of July-

Q:  Wow, July in North Carolina, nine months pregnant and no air conditioning.  Sounds hot!

A:  It was terribly hot and no, we did not have air conditioning.  We didn’t even own a fan! 

Q:  Not even a fan?

A:  Well no but we sat in the basement to stay cool.  And at night we opened up all the windows and things cooled down.

Q:  You probably know this but when a mother is pregnant today, there are baby registries and 40 different options for highchairs and car seats and all sorts of contraptions like bouncy seats and “exersaucers.”  Can you tell me what things you had ready before your first baby was born?  What was the norm?

A:  Well my mama and sister were good sewers.  They sewed a lot of gowns.  We didn’t have those things you have today-”onesie” things.  And we didn’t have sleepers.  We just used gowns.  We used cloth diapers and plastic pants.  My daddy made a cradle.  I made my own bedding.  Everything else I inherited from my older sister- a highchair, a crib, a playpen and a potty chair.

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Q:  And what about your delivery? I would imagine it was a natural delivery without pain relief?

A:  My first labor lasted for 12 hours.  They gave me half of a shot of some sort of pain relief but it stalled my labor.  After that they didn’t give me anymore. So I just labored.

Q:  Thanks to our sister Eve!

A:  {laughs}

Q:  And what were your first days like as a new mother?  It is such an emotional time, especially with your first.

A:  Well, I stayed with my mama for a week and then I went home with the baby.  I realized that I was alone with a baby that I didn’t know to care for and I was scared to death!  And I didn’t even have a telephone It was a really helpless feeling and I wasn’t prepared.

Q:  That sounds very isolating.  I imagine you were lonely?  But you eventually found your way, of course.

A:  Well yes.  The girl next door, her name was Daisy, she came alongside me and helped me.  She had three little girls of her own and she took me under her wing and taught me the things I needed to know.  She became my best friend.   She taught me canning and baking, things I never learned from my own mother because I was her youngest child and babied a lot growing up. Also, my older sister was a great help to me.

Q:  Did you have “easy” babies?  Babies that slept well?  Nowadays everyone wants to know “how is the baby sleeping??,” it seems to be the benchmark in how you are doing as a mother.

A:  My youngest had colic until he was nine months old.  He just cried and cried.  I would give him catnip tea.

Q:  Catnip tea??

A:  Yes, catnip tea.  It is an old mountain remedy.  You would buy it by the can at the drug store.  Boil water, add sugar and the tea.  I remember that two tablespoons would make 2 baby bottles of tea. 

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Q:  Can you tell me about housework.  What was it like in the days before modern appliances?  I think it is hard in the day of modern appliances!  Some days at 5 p.m. I think I can’t possibly summon the energy to get dinner on the table but then I think about how mothers just like me used to have to chop wood and build a fire to wash the dishes and make the meal.  That’s humbling!  I’m always praying that God would make me stronger.

A:  Well I had a washing machine in the basement.  I didn’t have a dryer.  We had a clothes line in the basement to use during inclement weather.  Sometimes I would hang the babies’ diapers on the line outside and they would freeze before I could get them down!  It was a lot of work, yes, I don’t know, we just did it.

Q:  You said your boys are 18 months apart, does that mean you had two babies in cloth diapers at one time?

A:  Oh yes.

Q:  What was that like?

A:  A disaster!  By the time my second was born my older son needed two diapers at one time for absorbency.  That made for a lot of diapers. All the time.  A lot of washing.  Plus the rubber pants.

Q:  Did you keep a garden as part of your homemaking?

A:  Yes, we had a garden and put up beans, corns, tomatoes and sweet pickles. 

Q:  I imagine that as far as cooking went, it was very hot in your kitchen in our North Carolina heat in the days before air conditioning.

A:  Yes, it would get very hot in the kitchen, but I didn’t know any different so we just made do.  Growing up, my mama cooked on a wood stove.  I was just used to it.

Q:  You were strong!

A:  Oh, I had to be.

Q:  What sorts of games did your boys play growing up?

A:  Baseball.  They were always playing baseball!  We played outside a lot.

Q:  Did you worry about snakes?  Poisonous snakes?  I’m always thinking about snakes when my boys are playing outside in the warmer months here in the south!

A:  Oh yes, I did.  That is an awful fear.  But I only remember seeing one snake on one occasion.  I did see one last year, a great big black one, but in that case he was headed toward your house and away from mine. {Erin’s note, Violet is my neighbor}

Q:  Oh, well how lovely.

A: Yes, sorry {chuckles}

Q:  I’m curious, looking back, do you wish you had disciplined more or disciplined less?  This is a big issue in modern parenting.  There is a great concern for kids’ self-esteem but a lack of respect for authority and elders overall, I think.

A: Well, no.  I disciplined them as they needed it and that was that!

Q:  Can you tell me how your faith played a role in your days a young mother?

A:  My faith  . . .  well, my faith  I guess is what kept me sane.

Q:  Well that is something that hasn’t changed.

A:  Indeed.

Thank you, to Violet for sharing your heart and story with all of us.  Coming next is my interview with a 94 year-old mother of 3, on life raising young children during the 1940s.

If you have a question you would like me to bring into an interview, please leave it in the comments section.

{all images, unless otherwise noted, pulled from this gorgeous collection}

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I love to talk to mothers, who are themselves now in their eighties or nineties, about their experiences as mothers of young children some sixty or seventy years ago.  I am utterly fascinated by these beautiful women who mothered in the days before modern appliances and air conditioning, baby registries and car seats.

What was it like to be nine months pregnant in 100 degree rural North Carolina heat? 

How did you soothe your colicky baby?

How did your faith see you through those days of hard work and deep loving?

Image by Pat Crowe

I am so excited to tell you that I have been busy interviewing elderly mothers to record and preserve their wisdom and I am going to share it all with you here, in a new blog series on “vintage mothering.”

Paris, 1937, Anonymous

It was my hope that this series could serve as a double blessing. I could, hopefully, go into nursing homes and talk to women who would enjoy the companionship and the chance to tell their story.  Then, in turn, their stories could serve as comfort and encouragement to modern mothers.

Wasn’t it lonely to mother in the days before modern technology?

Inge Morath, Fog on the Thames, London 1954

Looking back, do you wish you had disciplined more or less?

Image by Josef Heinrich Darchinger, 1955

What do you wish you had said to your daughter?

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What do you wish you had done differently?

What if you could go back and do it all over again?

Image by Beth Forester via.

Something inside me had to know the answers to these questions.

So I asked.

They answered.

Stay tuned, the first Vintage Motherhood interview will be live tomorrow.  From one mother to another, trust me, you do not want to miss this.

 

Something seems to have shifted in my heart these past few weeks.  While I’ve always cherished being a mother, God seems to have opened my eyes to the fleeting time that is this childhood I get to spend with my babes.   My oldest is turning 4 next week.  In a blink he will turn 14, and then 40.  Tonight I snuggled my boy, still 3, and he rubbed his nose up to mine and said “mommy . . . sweet mommy.”

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Our lives seem to be following the rhythm of the seasons.  As winter works to fade to spring, my camera and I have become magic-seekers.

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Recording what this childhood feels like, in this magical beautiful place at the foot of God’s mountains in rural North Carolina.

 

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Delight.

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Tiny wonder.

James January Sky

God sent us the most amazing “pet,” my boys could imagine.  Meet Humphrey, our eastern screech owl.  He took up residence in a tree in our yard about 2 months ago.  We love to watch his comings and goings.

Humphrey

My Boy baked a birthday cake for Humphrey several weeks ago and I stood in the rain, under an umbrella with him, singing happy birthday to this poor owl who was scared back inside his tree trunk.  Thank you for being such a good sport, Humphrey, we love you. Please stay!


My Baby in the backyard at sunset, going on 17 months.

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My Boy and his lost balloon at daybreak.

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Wagon ride with daddy.

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I’m looking forward to capturing and sharing the first signs of SPRING!!  C’mon spring, you can do it!

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morning bath.

Enjoying the first morning rays of February sunshine.

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This winter I planted wildflowers with my little boy.   Tiny seeds that I poured from a paper envelope into the palm of his hand have grown into brilliant little shoots of green in tiny peat pots.  In the midst of January, that green is lively and delicious. The little shoots grow taller every day and, hungry for the source of life, they lean desperately toward the window light.  Plants that you would expect to grow upward in fact lean nearly ninety degrees toward the window.  These seedlings stop me in my tracks; make me a better mother.

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Sometimes God speaks in whisper.  Sometimes He whispers through wildflower shoots in kitchen windows in January.   How great is our God.

John 8 12

Shhhhhh . . . quiet now . . . do you hear?

He is speaking, dear one.  He is speaking just for you: 

“Lean toward the Light.”

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Rare & Beautiful Treasures DIY Child Paint-Little Picasso

Baby, it’s cold outside!!  This polar vortex is something else.  Is it sub-zero where you are?

During the long winter months I am always looking for projects to do with my little ones indoors.  I know you are too.  This diy paint could not be any easier (2 ingredients).  It washes easily off surfaces and kiddos.  It is even safe to eat.

Rare & Beautiful Treasures DIY Child Paint Recipe

It works equally well as finger paint or with brushes.

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To make your own paints, just put a few heaping tablespoons of plain yogurt in each of several individual dishes or ramekins.  Add 5-7 drops of food coloring to each bowl and stir well.

Rare & Beautiful Treasures DIY Child Paint

It’s really that simple!

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It is, of course, quite messy!  But it wipes up well!  I plopped my babe down, in only a diaper, with an big piece of poster board.  The paint wiped clean from the floor and baby with warm soapy water.

You could certainly make smaller amounts of each color (try 1 tablespoon of plain yogurt and 2 drops food coloring) for brush play to better contain the mess.

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Or you could do as I did and let your little one go crazy while you sit and enjoy a hot cup of coffee on a cold winter day.   My 1 year-old played with these paints long enough for me to look through a decorating magazine and drink a full cup of coffee (without reheating!!)  Oh heavenly day!

In the end he was crowned King of Messes, but what can I say?  He wears it well.

What do you think?  Would you try this at home?

happy new year

Happy new year, my dear friends.

I couldn’t be more excited for a fresh and beautiful new year.  How blessed we are to have this gift of new beginning.

 

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Here is to your most lovely year yet!

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