1940s Wisdom UPDATED

5 Apr 2008

More inspired wisdom from Mrs Last:

"He agreed with me that no mothers of families should be allowed to work - unless, say, mornings, or finishing when the children came from school, and then only in necessity. What's the welcome for anyone to come into a cold cheerless home ? It would drive the youth to seek amusement and comfort outside. I think of the throng of happy, so easily entertained youths - girls as well as boys - that filled my home as long as the boys were at home. Either round a cosy fire, or with wide open windows, they sat and talked and argued.

What chance has youth, if they have no background, no anchorage, no feeling that there is a wee spot all their own. I feel sometimes I want to shout loudly to all mothers, and tell them how important they are, how much more they matter than all the preaching, talking men, who think only in terms of "organisation"....
I want to cry," Mothers UNITE. Let's all be old-fashioned" After all, babies and little ones are the oldest-fashioned thing there is. Let's give them background, teach them simple rules of life, mentally and spiritually, love them a lot and then stand aside. ..."

Nella Last's War, the Second World War Diaries of Housewife, 49

Nella Last worked for voluntary organisations during the war and thoroughly enjoyed her work, gaining strength and confidence from her ability to organise and be frugal with their limited resources. Her two sons were in their twenties at this time.

EDIT: I wanted to let you know that I am not against women working outside the home, I've been a worker myself .I do believe that young children especially, but all children really ,deserve to be cared for by their own parents wherever possible and sometimes it does require financial sacrifice and this belief has determined how I have lived my life since becoming a mother.
What I liked about this quote was the spirit of proclaiming the importance of motherhood. I don't believe it is a job that can just be handed over to another caring or paid person. The "job" of motherhood becomes yours from the moment you hold your baby in your arms and stays forever.

Whether you are mostly in the home or not you are your child's only experience of their mother. I feel for so many of today's young mothers (and their children) with society trying to tell them that they are replaceable and perhaps more important to their children for the material possessions they can provide than for the unconditional love and simple acceptance they can give.I abhor the fact that the benefits of mothering for the children and the mother are so devalued, and that society takes advantage of the fact that regardless of how little time they have for their family the majority of women will still give their all for their family often leaving themselves exhausted and spent.

I also love the importance that Nella places on home as a place of learning and belonging, of love and acceptance, something we all need and desire.

I love this book, I love this woman.

13 Responses to “1940s Wisdom UPDATED”

  1. What words of wisdom. And so relevant today...how I wish I could get that message across to today's Mums.

    We have so many violent teens in the UK, and I know why...

    if only we could go back to the old way of life...rock-solid family foundations, Mums at home, a sense of belonging and love within families...imagine how the world would be...

  2. Thanks Jenny - it's a great book isn't it? Before I returned it to the library I copied out a few sections. I am tmpted to get my own copy.

  3. That book sounds really wonderful! I know that my mom worked outside the home for a few years, and wasn't home when I got home. Then she quit and stayed home. Probably from the time that I was in 5th grade or so. I much preferred having her home. It just made you feel more secure. Knowing that she was there waiting for you, if you needed her.

  4. Thanks Jen,for sharing this....all I can say to this is...Amen....I so agree. I plan on trying to find this book and reading it. I wish families could realize that they could live with so much less than they think possible, then every Mom could afford to stay home and attend their God given right.
    One of my daughter's has to work outside the home and it hurts me to see how she struggles to keep up with it all, managing her home, children and job. I wish life could be simpler for all.

    Bless you Jen, Shelley

  5. Oh I wish that other Mums understood that. Such wise words that somehow seem to be have been silenced.

  6. Amen and amen. I say that with the benefit of a husband who respects me completely and participates in an egalitarian home.

    I wish we could convince all mothers (granting that some live in poverty and, with the abysmal social structures in the US, have no choice) that devoting their lives to their homes and children is not soul-crushing sexism.

  7. What a wonderful post...thank you.

  8. I couldn't agree more with what you and your commenters have said. But, how do you protect yourself, if something happens and your husband isn't there anymore to support you? Life insurance? Social Security (although not to be counted on any more)? Or do you find a paid job?

  9. Hi Anonymous, this is such an individual decision as is whether to return to work especially when you have small children. Everyone's circumstances and temperament are so different.

    I have a professional qualification and can work for an excellent hourly rate so I would not need to work full time to support my family. School holiday care of course is always a problem for single parent families or those who rely on dual incomes. We chose to live close to family so I would have to ask them for help at holiday times. Also I am lucky enough to live in a country with good social support mechanisms so I would accept help if I needed it especially if my children were still babies.

    When my eldest child was born I was the bread winner as my husband was a student, I returned to work when my baby was only 12 weeks old. I refuse to work full time and we lived on a very small part time wage for 2 1/2 years until my husband finished study and found work.

    When my aunt was left alone many years ago she took in sewing so she could be at home with her children and still support them.

    I know of another lady who started to sell her knitted garments and now has a team of people knitting for her.

    I have another friend who stayed at home on social security with very little money but began studying and as the children got older and started school she found work and kept studying as she could. She is now a child psychologist and her children have finished school.

    I haven't been in the situation so I can't say for certain what I would do but I guess it could be looked on as an opportunity to find out something new about yourself and trust that something good will come from it.

  10. I commented earlier but I think it got lost in cyberspace! Anyway, these are wonderful thoughts and spookily prescient! The sooner homemaking and motherhood are recognised as a profession vital to the creation of a civil society the better!

    I also agree with Rebecca, I hope I make an egalitarian home...where the rights of the mother, father *and* the rights of the children are fully respected.

  11. I have always belie.ved that if you choose to have children,then you should stay at home and bring them up.Why have a family if you are going to give others the task of raising them ? We all have the choice of whether we have children.There is no better career in my opinion than Motherhood

  12. I totally agree with Rosemary. It just doesn't make sense for my husband and me to allow someone else to raise our children if we are capable (and I also agree with Jenny, that living with one income for the sake of one parent at home is FINE - otherwise, I see it as trading a plush lifestyle for my children's childhood).
    Nowadays, I think couples who want to commit to each other and have children should discuss who is going to raise the children more carefully. It will never work if one partner is not supportive of the other partner being at home. My husband thinks my work is equally as important as his wage-earning work outside the home. Furthermore, we don't say that he "babysits" when he is the parent with our children and I'm away; he's a parent in equal rights too, even if I spend the majority of the time with the kids.


Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.