By Douglass Welch, King Features Syndicate
IF WE ARE TO BELIEVE the television commercial, there has been a profound and heartening change in the young American mother in the past several years. We do not yet see the whole of her rapidly emerging new personality but we can guess at it from the brief glimpses we catch of her during domestic crises. For instance, when her youngsters walk out of a howling gale with muddy feet into her kitchen and track up a newly-waxed linoleum floor she doesn't scold them as mothers used to do. She merely re-waxes the blighted areas quick as a jiffy, and it is a pleasure all the way because the wax is so much fun to use. She wears high heels while she does this, too.
When her clumsy husband tips over a bottle of catsup on a freshly-laundered table cloth which was supposed to last the family until Friday night, she doesn't reproach him. She is amused. She says gaily that she'll have it clean again in a trice with a wonder cleanser which contains, among other magic ingredients, moonbeams and stardust. She likes to wash the dishes and her children fight to help because dish-washing is no longer an onerous task with certain modern liquid detergents. The reason the children help her is that they want to carry off the same detergents to their baths. These modern children of the modern young mother need no prompting to take baths because the right kind of cleanser leaves their skins so refreshed and smooth, like Mommie's.
The young mother no longer gossips over the back fence with the woman next door about their mutual neighbors. When she does put her head together with another woman, we discover that she is comparing the virtues of bleaches and vitamin pills and headache remedies and like that. Woman-talk has taken a new, and altogether wholesome direction.
JILL OF ALL TRADES
The modern young mother, as we see her on television, (and, doesn't television, after all, merely hold up the mirror to life?) does most of her work in a party dress. We see her always about to rush off to the Stork Club. Her best friend, likewise dressed up like a corner window, arrives and calls out, "Are you ready to go, Helen?" and Helen answers, "Just a minute, please, Madge. I've got the week's washing to do first." And she sets a dial, and they both beetle off, giggling like schoolgirls.
This young mother also practices medicine. When her husband, generally a stupid fellow, awakes pallid and groaning in the morning, she has him on his feet, like a lion, in a very few minutes with precisely the right proprietary witch-broth. When any member of her family comes down with a cold, she attacks it four ways at once. She intuitively diagnoses circulatory disorders such as the dread "tired blood." She has learned medicine by listening attentively to what anyone in a white starched jacket tells her...dentists, doctors, druggists and chemists. She seldom is ill herself. She does become weary...from what heaven only knows; not from work surely...but a bath with the soapsuds coming right up to the rim of the tub always seems to revive her.
IT TAKES TIME
We know a number of young mothers, and, curiously, they are not in the least like this mother we see on television. They grub about the whole day long in pedal-pushers or in old blouses, sweaters and slacks; their hair hangs in wisps like the Witch of the East, they scold their children when the children deserve it; they hate washing dishes and taking - or giving - baths, and they fall asleep at night when television is on. Perhaps that is why they haven't caught on yet. It will take time.