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Come Saturday Morning
Saturday mornings, in our house, meant big breakfasts and cleaning house. Music was always somewhere in the background.
Way back when I was a little girl it was a given that Saturdays always meant cleaning house and grocery shopping. In the summertime, Saturday afternoons also meant my Dad on our back porch, grilling hamburgers or chicken for dinner. What a sweet memory!
I loved Saturday mornings. Saturday mornings, without fail, meant pancakes and sausages or eggs and bacon, cooked up by my Dad whose only culinary experience, any other time of the week, was at the grill barbecuing anything and everything (including the Thanksgiving turkey one year). But on Saturday mornings, my Daddy ruled in the kitchen and I lived for those breakfasts.
Like every other kid in America during the 50s, Saturday morning also meant cartoons and I could be found lying on the living room floor, as close to the television set as I could get so that I didn't miss a second of Mighty Mouse, Howdy Doody, Sky King and My Friend Flicka.
Thinking back to what TV sets looked like back then, compared to now, is truly a mind boggler!
I knew that I had to clean my room and scrub the hated bathtub and help around the house, but I didn't mind because my parents were always in a good mood on Saturdays. It seemed as though there was always sunshine streaming through the big kitchen window and in my mind's eye I can see my Mom sitting at the kitchen table, with her cup of Lipton tea, writing the grocery list on the back of an envelope. I guess that was to save on note paper, a habit leftover from the days of the Depression or her very poor childhood. I never knew which. I just remember thinking that whenever she could be thrifty, she was.
The grocery list was for my Dad and I because we did the grocery shopping most weeks. Mom didn't drive in those days and my Dad was a whiz at the grocery store. I, of course, liked to go because I could wheedle my Dad into buying me things that Mom would say no to.
I was raised by pretty strict standards for keeping things clean and in their place. "Scatter" rugs weren't supposed to be kicked up and everyone knew it. Tubs weren't allowed to have a ring around them and God forbid that a kitchen floor didn't sparkle and shine.
Hardwood floors were sanded and varnished every 2 years whether they needed it or not and windows were cleaned twice a year, inside and out, which meant taking your life in your hands sitting on the window ledge backwards in order to clean the outside of the windows and the storm windows. Drapes were taken down twice a year and sent to the dry cleaners and walls were washed and if they needed painting, that was done yearly.
It wasn't easy being the child of someone who was so particular, but in many ways, Im glad I was raised that way. Certainly by the time I had my own home and family, the idea of a spring and a fall cleaning had pretty much gone the way of wringer washers and Fels Naptha. But that need for a day where everything got cleaned and everything got put in its rightful place had already been instilled in my husband and I and we passed it on.
Our kids inherited the weekly, time honored tradition of a big Saturday morning breakfast, cartoons and house cleaning. Im sure they grumbled about it and I know for sure that I found shoes, dirty clothes, books, baseball gloves, soccer shoes, soccer balls, Star Wars figures, Barbie dolls, and Pretty Pony's you name it shoved under beds, behind dressers, inside closets and anywhere else that could account for a quick "Im done!" in order to get outside to play with the other kids. But they knew that there would be an inspection and that if the rooms didn't pass muster, they weren't going anywhere.
Bathrooms had to be cleaned, carpets had to be vacuumed, furniture got a weekly spray of Pledge and everything needed dusting. Kitchen duty meant dishes had to be washed, dried and put away. Dishwasher was a word which applied to the eldest kid who could be counted on to do a good job. For a long time, that meant our eldest son, Scott, who, to this day, is pretty much a model of perfection when it comes to a clean kitchen. Laundry that hadn't been done or completed during the week, had to be finished on Saturday. It was easier than when I was a kid, but Im sure my kids didn't feel that way.
Always, without fail, my husband and I would put albums on the stereo and music played the whole morning and well into the afternoon. It was our way of introducing our kids to the music we loved. Some of it we had grown up with, some of it was what we currently loved. Regular choices would be the Beatles, Carole King, James Taylor, Barbra Streisand, The Carpenters. If it was Christmas, the Ruth Lyons Christmas Album would be playing and I could be found sitting someplace bawling my eyes out listening to songs from that album which reminded me of my Dad and a long ago time.
If it was close to Easter, it was always Jesus Christ Superstar and we often played the Classics as well as Broadway musicals.
Music helped them get thru the worst of the morning chores. But it did so much more. It united them with us in a way that words never could. Through the music that we introduced to them, they could see us as more than just their Mom and Dad. They heard us singing, often in harmony, maybe even off-key. They were able to see us as we were before they all came along. They heard us sing the songs of our youth and of our courtship, romance and wedding. And music set in place, memories that they took into their own adulthood and lives.
Some of my best memories of those years are of the windows and doors all open, breezes flowing thru the whole house, music playing and the sweet, sweet voices of my four kids and Mike and I singing all over the house, in different rooms, going about the business of cleaning the house so that we could all go on to something better because it was Saturday and we could all be together.
They often ran off to be with friends, but there were many Saturdays where we would all pile into the big, old station wagon and just drive. (thank you to my daughter, Katie, for that memory). We drove everywhere with our kids. We didn't have much money but I know those drives around town and out into the country are time-stamped in my kids memories as some of the "best times".
Many times we ended up at the "Creamy Whip" place in Waynesville where we could pull up to the window and everyone got a cone filled with chocolate or vanilla "non ice-cream" but no one cared and no one noticed that it wasn't Graeter's or UDF. It was cold and creamy and sweet and we were a family, all together, and singing to whatever cassette tape played in the car and it was summer and life was good.
Those days are long gone now but I know they are being re-created for my grandchildren just as Mike and I re-created them for our own children, from each of our childhoods.
That makes me smile.