Many of you will know that around 9 years ago, I started a parenting/family lifestyle blog called 3 Children and It. Throughout its 4 year lifespan, my granny was its greatest fan. After some persuasion, she even wrote a couple of posts around motherhood and how to keep a marriage alive after 72 years.
Sadly, my granny passed away at the beginning of this year and I was deeply upset not to have kept my original blog. The thought that I had lost all of her supportive comments and the blog posts that she had so generously written, made me turn to Twitter.
I was advised of a site called Wayback Machine that is somehow able to provide select pages of websites that have long since been removed from the world wide web. As you can imagine, I was completely lost in the archives for some time but I was absolutely thrilled to find a post that my granny (at 90 years of age) had penned, on motherhood.
As this Sunday is Mother’s Day, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to repost and preserve her words for future generations…
Motherhood During World War II
When my dear granddaughter asked me to tell her what it was like bringing up children during the war, I was for a moment terrified and thought I couldn’t do it. On reflection, there were great differences – some good, some not so good – for the children and the parents.
Remember that there was rationing of all our food and clothing? When I married in 1942, I had a white wedding. My whole family (I had a pretty large one as despite being an only child, my mother had 5 sisters and 3 brothers) gave up some of their precious clothing coupons to get the material for my wedding dress. In addition they saved up their food coupons over several months, to provide a wedding breakfast. hat was the feeling of camaraderie that prevailed at the time.
There was no such thing as convenience foods, we had to prepare and cook everything we ate except perhaps bread, and that wasn’t sliced. The milkman also delivered twice a day. He came early in the morning with enough for breakfast and again about noon because remember, we had no fridges.
Our children learned to play with one another and the neighbours’ children, because a mother’s time was taken up entirely with shopping, feeding the children and keeping the house and them clean. Mondays were taken up with washing and drying, Tuesdays with ironing then two days to clean the house and perhaps take the children to the park . All day Friday was for making cakes and pies out of whatever we could get from the shops, sometimes standing for hours to get a bit of fruit, some powdered egg or another delicacy.
On the good side however, the children grew up with a sense of neighbourliness, playing in the streets together. They coloured and painted and some loved to read. They played board games and invented things to do. I think that children did not have quite the pressures on them that they have today. They could not do so many things away from home, because there were no cars easily available (no petrol even if you were rich enough to own a car). Buses were the mode of transport.
Life wasn’t miserable for mothers either, we worked together. An old school friend of mine, Olive, was very handy with her needle. She had the skills and I had a sewing machine – the perfect combination! Her little girl Sheila and our son John, would amuse themselves, while I got on with some jobs and Olive put her skills to work making clothes for the children or whatever was needed.
At the time, we lived in a basement flat with a coal cellar at one end of the hall and a bathroom at the other. Olive and I could hear the children shrieking with laughter in the hall. Bless their little hearts we thought until we found that the laughter was caused by them running with pieces of coal along to the bath and filling it up! I don’t think we actually said “bless their little hearts” then – you should have seen their hands, faces and clothes!
Children were very happy and content without television etc. They didn’t resent the ‘make do and mend’ and the ‘hand-me-down’ culture because that was their life. Wartime was, I think, a great leveller.
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These wonderful memories seem even more poignant right now. Our predecessors coped so brilliantly during the war (which cannot even be compared to the Coronavirus threat), today’s issues really do pale into insignificance.
My granny had the classic ‘keep calm and carry on’ mentality that most people bringing up children in that era, seemed to have. She was stoic, practical, wise and incredibly humble. She has taught me so much about living life well and will be forever missed.