A Letter to Young Moms:

We lived in Pennsylvania when my three sons were born. First came the unexpected twins (no one knew until the first baby was delivered!) and then my third son two years later. I was a young college graduate mom, and we had no money. But what we did have was a great love for these babies and a wonderful imagination.

I stayed home with these babies in the mountains. My mom bought diaper service for me and sometimes the delivery man was the only person I saw for days on end! I was a Mother Earth mother … no plastic diapers for my babies and absolutely no baby food from a jar. I made all of their food and ground it in a Happy Baby Food Grinder. Once my neighbor took the boys for a walk and came home with a jar of store-bought applesauce. Needless to say she did not do that again.

My neighborhood, at the time, was full of stay-at-home moms. We had funny little contests to keep our sanity. One such contest was to see who could hang their laundry on the line the earliest in the morning. (We really had no other life than taking care of babies!) I used to set my alarm clock for 3 a.m. just to go out and hang up the laundry.

Of course, the only prize was my own satisfaction that my laundry was up before the crack of dawn. We often took care of each other’s children so we could have a small break. Once a week all the moms gathered at our house to quilt. We all had old houses in that mountain town, but I had a room in which we could set up the quilting frame. We drank tea (someone was always nursing a baby) as children and babies crawled all over us and we stitched on each other’s quilts.

We only had one car so most of my errands hand to be by walking. I had a double stroller for Adam and Aaron and a back pack for Abe. We went down the mountain to town every day. We stopped in the bakery, the grocery, the post office and always the town library. (I read to my children every night!) Once when we were walking in town, one of the merchants came out and hollered at me to get inside the door. As we all made it in safely a large bear lumbered down the middle of town.

Moving to land in Indiana made the most sense for us. We wanted those boys of ours to grow up on the land. Again, we had no money … I patched their jeans, grew our food (everything from wheat to apples) and sang and read to them every night. In the summers we swam in the pond, had picnics under the old hickory tree and climbed the hill to watch the sun set. In the winter we ice skated, cut firewood and fiercely loved the beauty of the land.

The boys all had hobbies and chores. No one ever slept past 6 a.m. even on Saturday.

There were so many nights I fell asleep with the boys and woke up at 2 a.m. knowing there were still goats to milk and a barn to clean. I made their mittens out of our sheep’s wool, carried buckets of water into the house and buckets back out. I cooked with wood. We heated with wood.

It all sounds a bit dreadful as I put it on paper, but the truth is I loved every moment. I never wished they would grow up, or that we would have money, or that anything would ever be different. In fact I did not even realize it wouldn’t last forever until one day.

One day I was alone in the house. It was certainly a rare occasion. I remember it like yesterday. On that day I heard the clock tick. It actually startled me to be able to hear such a small sound in a house that was always filled with noise. On that day I knew it would not last forever, except I thought it would be a long time before I would be able to hear the clock tick every day.

I was wrong.

My boys grew up and have spent more years on their own as adults than with me as children. I miss them every day. And the clock ticks on.

Love, Lou Ann

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