Mom taught us how to work!
When it came to discipline Mom wasn’t one to wait for Dad to come home. She took things into her own hands. I recall several spankings, the ones given with a willow stick hurt the most. I know Mother must have felt overwhelmed by all of her responsibilities, and especially when Clark, Kenny and I would fight with one another. Sometimes it made her cry and then we felt awful. We were exasperating kids at times, Mom would call to us, absently we would continue with what we were doing until she finally yelled to get our attention.
Mother insisted that her children learn how to perform household chores. We were taught to fold the laundry, vacuum, dust, clean the bathrooms, make a proper bed, do the dishes, clean the kitchen, mop the floors, and on occasion we even washed walls. When I finished a task, mom would check it out. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried, she always found something I could improve upon.
We had a large family of nine so there was always plenty that needed to be done. Each of us had Saturday chores we were expected to do. She would often repeat, “A job worth doing, is worth doing well.”
Occasionally, in the summer Dad would pile all of us in the station wagon and take us over to Grandpa Hutchings farm where we would help weed the huge vegetable garden. That was back breaking work. I remember my brother Kenny complaining about all the jobs he had to do. Once he told Mom the only reason she had kids was to do her work. That comment didn’t go over too well!
When we were older, our parents determined to expand our responsibilities. I guess they thought we were too lazy. They decided we could all clean Dad’s office on the weekends, instead of hiring someone. Oh my, did we groan and complain. I remember scrubbing those old tile floors on our hands and knees, Mom and Dad working right along side us.
Mom always liked it when we worked together to clean and didn’t complain. She often said that was the best gift we could give her.
I know I took for granted the fact that Mother was always there when I came home from school. I would call to her as I came in the front door, “I’m home Mom.”
She would answer back, “How was school today?” It was comforting to know she was close by.
Mother was a tireless worker; she insisted that we all help her in the kitchen with the cooking. We also had a weekly dish night. I usually helped prepare dinner if I didn’t have too much homework. I think I peeled a pan full of potatoes every night. My Dad was a “meat and potato” guy, no casseroles for him. It took me awhile to catch on to the peeling process. In the meantime, I cut the skin on my thumb more than once. I recall how it stung and bled all over the potatoes. I have the scars to prove it.
Oh how well, we all remember the days of canning peaches and pears. All hands were enlisted to help prepare the six bushels of peaches and later six bushels of pears. We spent long, tedious days in the kitchen peeling, cutting and filling jars until the last quart was processed and stored on the shelf. Of course, we loved eating the delicious fruit.
Mom taught me how to make an angel-food cake, first whipping the egg whites into stiff peaks and then gently folding in the dry ingredients. Under Mother’s tutelage I learned to make different kinds of salads, cakes, cookies, and candy. She taught me the art of making perfect gravy and white sauce.
Mom made her wonderful cinnamon rolls for trips and outings to lagoon. She covered the kitchen table with the delicate rolls, their aroma filling the house. I can taste them now, so soft and delicious with cinnamon sugar, raisins, and icing. I would pull them apart and plop chunks into my mouth. How I wish I had one right now. Umm!
When tacos became popular that became one of our favorite meals. Eventually we converted Dad too. Always diligent and concerned about our health, Mom prepared three meals a day. She adamantly insisted, even when we were in high school, that we eat breakfast before we left for school. At dinnertime we always sat down together as a family I remember it being a special time of the day. But even then Mom was always up and down from the table seeing to our needs.
I don’t recall doing a lot of yard work. Occasionally we weeded the flower beds for Mom, but no matter how often she tried to teach us, we continually pulled up flowers with the weeds, I think she finally decided against our help. When my brothers got big enough they started to mow the lawn for Dad. We also swept the large patio and driveway. During the summertime Mom was up early in the morning watering her flowerbeds. Once in awhile we would sneak up and squirt her with our water pistols. She would return fire with the hose, then we would run to the front yard and get the other hose. War was on. We always enjoyed it when Mom would play with us. She was always so busy taking care of her house and big family.
It seemed to me that Mom never stopped. When it was evening and we were all on the couch relaxing, she was still going. I asked her once if she ever got tired? She said, “Sure, but it needs to be done.” I didn’t understand at the time, but I do now.
One of the few times I remember seeing her relax was when we went on vacation.
Getting ready for a vacation was an exciting time. I always enjoyed going on these wonderful jaunts, even when I was older and in high school. Of course, Mom bore the brunt of the preparations. First, there were clothes for nine people to wash and pack, often a quick trip to Salt Lake to purchase a couple of new outfits for each of us. At the same time mother was preparing food to take. When every last item on Mom’s list was finally packed and ready, we squeezed into the car, body to body, with nary an inch to spare. With our luggage stacked and tied on top of the car, we were quite a site. We made many a trip to California and Disneyland in the wagon.
I have vivid memories of traveling down the road, while Mom, in the front seat passed out the tiny boxes of cold cereal for our breakfast or put together sandwiches and snacks for us to nibble on.
In later years, on boating trips, she would make us huge Hoagy sandwiches with lots of meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato and mustard. They were the best. Of course we were hungry teenagers then. I have never seen Mom so happy as when she was away from home on a trip and she could finally relax.
After we bought the camper, Mom was in heaven! Mother would stock the cubbies so full of can goods, that Dad was afraid we would have a flat tire from the weight, and we did on occasion.
To a kid, eager to go on a trip, it seemed to take Mom forever to get everything in readiness. The only thing I can compare it with, is waiting for Christmas Day. I was the oldest and so I tried to help Mother as much as I could, but no matter how much I did, there was always twenty things more that needed doing. The evening before we left, Mom was up most of the night packing and finishing up last minute details. We all breathed a sigh of relief as, jam-packed, we finally backed out of the driveway and off to our adventure destination.