Unless you have experienced it, it is difficult to imagine the pressure a young mother endures when she has a brood of young, active children. My dear wife Ann experienced that sort of pressure, and I don’t know how she managed to survive. The few times I stayed home to take care of the boys I suffered absolute exhaustion and could hardly wait to get back to my regular job.
In the old days members of the extended family tended to live close together, and other family members were nearby and ready and willing to help out. As a young couple, that was not our situation. We were far from other family members and very much on our own.
We had five sons over a period of ten years, four months. They were good, well-behaved children, but Ann had her hands full; and though she was an extremely efficient, high-energy woman, there were times she reached the limits of endurance.
Every day there were meals to cook, beds to make, and rooms to clean, with occasional variety in the form of grocery shopping and trips to the pediatrician and the pharmacy. She also served as medical first responder and head nurse. She was also a teacher and a reader of children’s stories. She knew tales like “The Saggy, Baggy Elephant” by heart.
Then there were the diapers. With the children spaced as they were, it seemed that diapers would never end. And they weren’t the neat, pre-packaged throw-away diapers of today. They were regular cloth diapers that required washing or a diaper service, and a diaper service was not available until very late in our years of need.
I use one little incident to illustrate the sort of mind-bending pressure that Ann was under. One day, when purchasing groceries at the A&P Store, she wrote a check and signed it “Mrs. A&P.”
The cashier accepted the check, but the store office later discovered the mistake. They knew Ann, so the matter was quickly resolved, and everyone got a good laugh out of it. But Ann and I knew the true reason for the error.