Editor’s note:What was it like growing up in YOUR family? You know you want to tell us and New Hampshire’s own Susan Dromey Heeter. email firstname.lastname@example.org
By Susan Dromey Heeter, Joyful Musings
To begin musing joyfully on large families it seems only right to start with the moms – the moms of six, eight, ten and more who spent the better part of their twenties, thirties and sometimes forties pregnant, sporting maternity clothes, corralling children.
In the photo above, the woman fourth from the right is my mom Nancy; she smiles between her two good friends, Mrs. Ryan and Mrs. Donnellan. Between them they had 24 children – my mother with the smallest brood of only six. Mrs. Cary, front row left, dressed regally in silver and mother to her own six children, had orchestrated this tea for the neighborhood women, the hats a vital part to the gathering.
It’s hard to know exactly the number of children birthed collectively by all of these neighborhood women – I’m guessing at least 80.
But I use this picture as a beginning to this series on stories of families to share my experience with growing up in a relatively large family – while moms rarely knew where we were, what we were doing, who we were with, they somehow, well, did. Text messaging and Facebook, mercifully, did not exist in the 60s, 70s and 80s but the social network existed via looks and the unwritten rule that some mother would know when you were out of line. While there were a plethora of kids running throughout the streets, there were a myriad of eyes watching.
And these mothers laughed together, uproariously. Their hats above caught their silliness, the rules when they gathered included, “No talk of children.” What a relief.
But the tales their children will tell – those are to come. While these women gathered together in their silliness, their joy – who knows what was going on at home. The offspring of these women have stories to tell; keep posted. I’ll include those tales – along with those from the children from other locales – whose mothers also wore funny hats and may – or may not – have know what their own children were up to. I muse joyfully you’ll return next week.
Susan Dromey Heeter, a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white, writes “Joyful Musings” for InDepthNH.org. Dromey Heeter is a secondary Spanish Teacher at Dover High School and the mother of two teenage daughters. Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards. She also writes about thrift shopping and all things frugal in a column called “Budget Vogue” for the New Hampshire Union Leader.