Man Of The House ?

When I got my first actual job, real employment after leaving school in 1966 aged 15, I suddenly felt ‘grown-up’ and more like a man & no longer a child. My mother had said over the weekend, “You are the man of the house now.” meaning I was the wage earner, the one providing the means to buy food, pay the rent, buy clothes!” . My first job actually meant me getting out of my bed at 4 am, I realised I was the only one awake & I had to get my own breakfast, make & light a coal fire, get myself ready to walk almost a mile to get a lift into town! In those days even the radio programme didn’t start till 4:30am and meanwhile it played a boring repetitive piece of music, drums & piano playing a rhythmical set of notes.

I was just about ready to leave the house when my mother got up, just before 4:45am she appeared in the kitchen and got herself a breakfast, we had an unwritten rule we all knew about since as long as I recall, for the first 15 minutes or so no-one actually speaks, just to allow for a quiet breakfast & for the brain to readjust from sleep & a warm comfortable bed where probably dream land made stuff seem great, to reality where it wasn’t so warm and getting all of the body awake and moving comfortably was a steady task. Just as my mother was ready to speak I was getting into some clothes so I could set off for my walk to the main road to town, she looked at the fireplace and crouched her naked self down to get warmed, then she said with a laugh in her tone, “This feels good getting warmed by a fire that somebody else lit. It feels good that you managed to get yourself up & moving in time to do all your things before having to go out, you are the man now, earning a wage & taking responsibilities for stuff.” I paused at the door wondering if I should answer or if I should just accept things, I felt good knowing I was setting out on a new phase of my life, I felt good knowing my mother was happy about things. I fastened my coat collar against the cold icy rain and looked back at mothers nude huddle, ‘… yep.. this is adult life!…’


2 thoughts on “Man Of The House ?”

  1. Adult responsibility brings maturity and self respect. Many teens today are short changed because they haven’t been required to work hard. Instead they’ve been given their wishes, avoided tough decisions and aren’t self-reliant. That subsequent lack of character does them much harm as they grow older.

    • Very true. When I was a kid, I had to do chores at home, and then if I wanted spending money I had to go out and earn it. Usually mowing lawns, shoveling driveways in the winter, and some other back-breaking work. It taught me a good work ethic and stood by me for all of my life.


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