Back in the 1950s, it wasn’t uncommon for women to stay home and look after the kids. Most of the women on my block were “housewives,” a label not many would be happy to bear today.
My Mom was no exception and since she didn’t have a driver’s license, she really was housebound for the most part. With four small children underfoot, she needed to have some downtime every once in a while.
Mom would wait for Dad to come home from work, then take off on foot to run some errand for an hour or two.
We lived in Richmond, which in those days was largely made up of farms with subdivisions springing up.
Drainage ditches ran alongside the roads to accommodate the rain. These ditches made awesome “trenches,” “roads” and “tunnels” for us kids to play in when they were dry during the summer months. It wasn’t unusual to see neighbourhood kids pop up on either side of a driveway, dusty, running and happy as you could ever imagine.
In the winter and spring however, these ditches did what they were intended to do and at times were full to the level of the road — about three feet deep.
One day, Mom was on her way to the local bank and was walking parallel to the ditch, which was full to the brim in the rainy season.
As she passed a driveway, something red caught her eye and she stopped to take another look, thinking someone had lost a hat in the ditch.
She quickly realized that it was a hood rather that was attached to a coat worn by a small toddler.
She then saw a tricycle tipped over partway into the ditch a little further down and putting the bits together, clambered down the bank and into the ditch.
She managed to grab the child and pull him up out of the water.
Mom could not see if he was breathing but heaved both the boy and herself up onto the edge of the ditch.
After laying the little one on his side, she began screaming for help.
It took a few moments for the boy’s mother to come out of the house, then run straight back inside to call for help.
The little guy survived this harrowing event and Mom came home soaking wet, not saying too much about what happened.
All these years later, with Mother’s Day approaching, I think about what Moms actually do, then and now.
I also think about the gift my Mom gave that day to another mother, who was so grateful.
For some interesting insights into Motherhood, try The Unmumsy Mum by Sarah Turner, Finding your Inner Mama by Eden Steinberg or Mothers and Sons by Mariana Cook.
Sue Kline is the Community Librarian at the Summerland Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library and the mom of three capable adults.