The Way Things Were...
Sometimes as I grit my teeth & struggle through yet another evening of lost homework books, demands for money for school trips, squabbles & refusals to eat whatever I've spent hours cooking, I lose sight of the fact that I usually consider myself very lucky to be able to stay at home with my children, and that things that I take for granted like my second-hand dishwasher were unheard-of luxuries not so very long ago. Imagine doing all the washing by hand, (I'm old enough to remember getting my fingers caught in the mangle as a tiny child!) then sweeping the floors, cleaning the grate & laying fires, beating carpets, walking to & from the shops every day because there was no way to keep things fresh... aren't we lucky! But here is some advice from Christine Dennison, mother of my friend Carol Kirk, who at one stage had seven children under 12 and had no washing machine until after the fourth was born. She has written an inspirational booklet for her children, recounting how God's love and wisdom helped her and her family through the tough times.
- "Your well-being and the family's happiness comes first. A cheerful mother with a grubby house is, in my view, to be preferred above a complaining misery with an immaculate home, and I have known what it is to be both."
- "The babe in arms may be squealing for a feed just as the barely toddling toddler takes a tumble, and the next in line begs you to "listen" which you feel you must as you had solemnly promised you would, just as it's time to fetch the oldest from school. If, as frequently happens, the phone rings, the doorbell chimes, and something in the kitchen is burning as well, you must display a remarkable collection of talents in order to cope. If you think I'm exaggerating, ask any young mother!"
- "In all the years of raising a family we have always managed to have some kind of a holiday. These were times of great fun, with a few trials thrown in for good measure. Jim's love was camping, and as this was a cheap form of holiday, we mostly camped. This meant bundling the children plus tent into an old VW and setting off for our beloved Lakeland. Some of us are natural campers, and some of us learn to be. I was one of the latter. I always prayed fervently for sunshine, and it mostly rained. And blew. By a miracle the tent stood, and seven children got fed, and somehow stayed alive and what is more enjoyed themselves too. I followed on, blowing raindrops from the end of my nose, and searching for something within to sustain me. But I got hardier, and adapted till I learned to love the outdoors and also to moderate the hardships for survival's sake. Take note, God has given to every woman an ability to adapt. Through the ages women have forsaken their childhood home and followed their men from "pillar to post". If we are willing, we can draw on this gift innate in womanhood, and surely find God's blessing in it. So we flew kites, tramped miles, got wet (and sometimes miserable), fought, laughed and on the whole thoroughly enjoyed ourselves together."
- "Let children run, play and laugh, happily and freely. Let them climb, slide, roll and scramble, understanding that they will get very dirty and tear and wear out clothes. Buy these clothes as cheaply as possible, in a jumble sale or charity shop if you can. Then relax and rough and tumble with them if you like, but do teach then respect for clothes should the occasion demand it. There should, of course, be no rolling on the lawn at a wedding!"
I have to say that Christine must be a shining example as Carol, one of her daughters, has gone on to have 4 children of her own.