Interview With the 80-Somethings

Let me tell you about these 80-somethings.  Just erase whatever mental image you may have of an 81 and 83 year old pair of sisters.  Yes, they may live across the street from each other in a small town, wear holiday themed outfits, and make devil eggs for every occasion, but don’t be fooled.  They are more up to date on current events than I am, have cell phones and facebook accounts {and know how to use them}, and have more stamina than my 30-something friends.  They grew up during the Great Depression and World War II, married and had kids during the baby boom, made it through parenthood, grandparenthood, and have now entered the realms of great grandparenting {emphasis on GREAT, as they say}.  I am lucky enough to call these ladies MawMaw and Aunt Jeanie.  For the record, Aunt Jeanie is like a third grandmother to me.

the ladies
MawMaw and Jeanie playing with baby Caroline.

I recently heard on the Today show read in a very scholastic article that one of the most beneficial relationships is the one between grandparent and grandchild.  For me, this has been oh so true.  I have been close with my grandparents throughout my life, but since becoming a mother, it has reached a whole new level.  Not only do they listen to me vent and give advice and encouragement, they show up 2 days a week to help with my kids.  When I say help, I mean on the floor playing, changing diapers, feeding, house cleaning, laundry, and even pushing the 6 seater stroller around the neighborhood!  Oh, and they rarely show up without food they’ve made “for the babies.”  They do all this with a smile on their face {and an occasional crazy comment or two}.  These ladies not only inspire me, but all of my friends and family as well.  So, I decided to pick their brains.  What can we moms of today learn from these ladies?  Here’s what I got…

One of you has been married 55 years, the other 62 years.  How does a marriage stand the test of time?

  • As Ruth Graham once said, “I’ve never thought of divorce, but I did think of murder a few times.”
  • It’s all about the give and take.
  • Get separate hobbies.  Especially after retirement.  You go from hardly having your husband around to him being there all. the. time.
  • Most importantly, GOD – He saves marriages.
harrison family
MawMaw, PawPaw, my mom, and my uncle circa early 1960s.

What did being a mother look like back in the June Cleaver days?

  • June Cleaver was a joke.  A fantasy.  No one seriously tried to be that perfect.
  • There was no preparation for motherhood.  You went in completely clueless.
  • We were worried about being judged by our own mothers and mother-in-laws.  We felt so busy, but would still fall short somewhere.
  • Few mothers worked outside the home, but there was no judgment amongst mothers on that decision.
  • Being a mother out of wedlock was a big deal.
  • Mothers did everything concerning the home.  Fathers were always working – even weekends.  We had completely separate roles and fathers had little to do with raising the children.  We never had any help from them.
  • There was no technology.  The kids were around you all. the. time.  We had to make our own fun.
  • Vacations happened once a year, and we always visited family for our big vacation.
  • It was all about community.  Moms helped each other out, we often had people over or were at someone else’s home, and we rotated Sunday dinners with our group of friends.
snowden family
Aunt Jeanie, Uncle Ike, and baby Mike circa 1950s.

What were the biggest challenges you faced as a mom?

  • Knowing what to do with sick kids.  Guessing the right time to call the doctor.  There were no emergency care centers back then. Just the general practitioner.
  • Fussy babies and kids who didn’t sleep.
  • Exhaustion.  And when you’d close your eyes for a second, you’d wake up to find your kid pulling on a cord…or holding a knife.  Amazing how quickly they can get into something dangerous.
  • The biggest challenge was not getting pregnant again!  The birth control options were quite limited.
mama and baby
MawMaw with her firstborn in 1954.

What are the biggest differences between being a mother now and then?

  • Diapers!!  Disposable diapers are a gift from God.  We had to hand wash, line dry, and fold our diapers.  And dingy ones were frowned upon. Cleaning diapers was our afternoon activity.
  • Discipline.  Back then if you made waves, you got beat.  Everyone had the same punishment.  Nowadays there are many techniques, and spanking is a less popular option.
  • Stuff.  Kids have way more stuff now.  It’s a fine line between giving your child a better life than you had and giving them just plain ole too much stuff.  Crossing the line leads to spoiled and entitled kids.  Back then kids didn’t have that sense of entitlement.
jeanie and baby
Aunt Jeanie with her firstborn 1955.

Mothering in 2014 – easier or harder than the 50’s and 60’s?

  • Both.  Technology and conveniences make day-to-day things so much easier.  However, kids are exposed to so much more at a younger age these days.  You have to start parenting big issues earlier and more frequently.

What do young mothers need to know?

  • Through it all, the most important thing for a kid is to know their parents love them.  No matter what you do, make sure of that.

And there you have it.  Mothering through the last few decades has drastically changed in some ways, and in other ways not at all.  We may have more things, but we still worry about the same issues, are challenged in the same ways, and just want to be the best moms we can be.

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Lauren became a Houstonian in high school. After attending Baylor University- where she met her husband, Dave- Lauren returned to Houston for graduate school, earning a Masters in School Psychology. After working several years in Houston area schools, Lauren is now a stay-at-home mom to her sextuplets {April 2012}. Andrew, Benjamin, Caroline, Leah, Allison, and Levi keep Lauren, Dave, and their slew of volunteers on their toes! When Lauren isn't looking after her 6 kids and dog, Maggie, she enjoys running, baking, reading, mindless TV, and getting out of the house! Follow the sextuplet adventures on Lauren’s blog, The Perkins Pack


  1. Lauren (and Dave) are so fortunate to have such wonderful Great-Grandmothers for their babies. They gleam with pride every time these precious sextuplets are mentioned. Congratulations on the outstanding job this family is doing raising such a “large” family all at one time!!

  2. What a wonderful read! The picture of my uncle Ike and aunt Jeanie is priceless!
    (My grandfather was Ike’s brother) I was lucky enough to be raised by my grandma Lila and it is definitely the most meaningful relationship I have and will every have. These “80-something’s” know what they’re talking about huh?!


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