The Duke Digital Collections Mother of the Year Awards

At this time of year, we here at Duke Digital Collections always like to celebrate the mothers who have been such major influences on us: Marge Simpson … Carol Brady … Clair Huxtable … the mother of all those melon-headed children in The Family Circus ….  Oh, also our own mothers.  The time of year we are referring to is, of course, Cinco de Mayo.  ¡Cinco de Mayo!  Also Mother’s Day, which we are also big fans of, although we would like it better if we associated it with half-price margarita pitchers.  Let’s take a moment to recognize some of the outstanding moms in our digital collections with the first annual Duke Digital Collections Mother of the Year Awards!

The “You Are Getting Sleepy … Very Sleepy” Award

Sometimes even the most devoted mother has days when every minute the children are still up is like a knife through her soul worrisome because the little darlings need their rest.  Back in the days before C-SPAN was invented, parents often eased their kids off to dreamland as early as 4 p.m. by gathering the whole family around the ole seed catalog.  Interestingly, at this photo shoot the boy on the left fell backwards off the ottoman immediately after this photo was taken and woke up 3 days later.  These days, parents get the same results by having the kids play a few minutes of Wii Seed Catalog after dinner.

The “You Are Getting Sleepy … Very Sleepy” Award (Grandmother Division)

Of course we don’t want to forget that grandmothers are mothers, too!  This woman, stuck babysitting her grandchildren while their parents are off at a quilting bee, ice cream social, or Iron Maiden concert, has worked out a deal with her granddaughter to hypnotize the baby into stunned submission by wearing their most crazily patterned clashing dresses.  We can’t tell for sure since it’s in b&w, but you just know there is orange and lime green involved.  As soon as little brother was “asleep,” Grandma and little Betty Lou or Sally Sue or whatever hotwired the neighbors’ Ford Fairlane and went out joyriding.

The Milton Bradley Caldecott Award

Oh, this takes us back to our childhood.  We remember how, after we put on our jammies and brushed our teeth and washed our faces, our mom would sit us down and read us a bedtime, um, board game.  We liked The Game Of Life because we got to make exciting decisions like whether or not to buy insurance, and checkers, because the repeated “red, black, red, black” refrain lulled us into slumber pretty quickly.  Of course, our favorite was Monopoly, but Mom never liked reading that one to us because it went on forever, nobody ever won, and somebody always ended up crying and kicking the board over.

The Kardashian Sisters Special Achievement In Cloning Award

“The only bad thing is that sometimes I can’t tell whether I’m looking at Susie or Little Susie.  Or myself, really.  I was afraid this might happen when I married that Xerox machine, but, you know, he’s been really good to me, and our kids really love him.”

The “We’re Going To Get Rid Of These Germs Once And For All” Award

All parents know that no matter how clean you keep your home, your child will find the dirtiest object and put it in his or her mouth immediately.  Scientists believe that human babies are born with a homing device in their brains that is otherwise found only in the dirtier breeds of dog.  This is why, even if a team of housekeepers spends 72 straight hours cleaning and sanitizing your house such that Martha Stewart would proudly serve Thanksgiving dinner off the floor, within 5 seconds of being put down a toddler will be happily eating a cigarette butt. Which is amazing considering nobody in your house smokes.  This mother, tired of risking her child’s health with (shudder) temporary disinfectants, has installed a sprinkler system in her home that sprays the entire house with Lysol every 60 seconds, day and night.  She also has the cleanest bathroom in town, but we recommend that if you go visit, don’t eat anything that has been in an open container, and whatever you do, DON’T LOOK UP.

The “You March Yourself Home And Come Back When You’re Looking More Presentable, Mr. Man” Award

Just as airplane travel used to be a dressier affair, with passengers jetting around the world in ball gowns and tiaras, childbirth used to demand a certain level of formality.  This new mother sent her husband home to change into a tuxedo before he was allowed to meet the baby.  (“We don’t want him to think he’s been born into a family of slobs!”) Under her white hospital gown, the mother is wearing a beaded evening gown with train, and the baby’s diaper has been heavily bedazzled.  Things are much more casual today; if you’ve been to a hospital recently you’ve undoubtedly seen many people wearing tube tops, NASCAR t-shirts, “I’m With Stupid” baseball caps, and Daisy Dukes.  And those are just the doctors.

The “You’d Be Nervous And Irritable If You Had To Wash Dishes In Heels, Too” Award

“You know how it is when you’re going through withdrawal … you drop everything you pick up.  Why, it got so bad I lost my job at the Hand Grenade & Faberge Egg Museum!  Finally I went to my doctor, who told me I had a medical condition called ‘the DTs’!  He prescribed Postum, which is 100% coffee-free, and also has 2000% of my recommended daily allowance of codeine.  Now I feel AWESOME!  And on really tough days like today, when I’m trying to finish whipping up a new miniskirt and the little girl next door won’t stop leaning on my sewing machine staring at me, I use new X-Treme Postum.  The ‘X’ is for ‘Xanax’! Ever since I’ve started drinking it, I … I … oh, wow, I can see my reflection in this cup!  I … I’s jsst gon’ put my headdown on ths li’l girl for jus’ a sszzzzzz…..”

Yes, mothers have truly played a crucial role in Duke Digital Collections, as they have in everything that is good and wholesome in the world.  Mothers everywhere, we salute you!  Thanks for giving us life, for kissing our boo-boos, for staying up all night with us when we were sick, for pretending to believe us when we said the dog broke the vase, and mostly just for being you.  Happy Mother’s Day!

7 thoughts on “The Duke Digital Collections Mother of the Year Awards”

  1. Wow, what a great Friday afternoon read. I laughed so hard I cried, Rich — thank you!

  2. People overdo it with “lysol”, I wonder what it’s doing to our lungs. Good post and entertaining. Thanks.

  3. Great post that brings back memories and adds modern day humor. Notice that in current advertising very little is publicized about the traditional family unit anymore.

  4. We all love Marge Simpson! Didnt We? Those 50’s posters are great. Everything seemed so simple and perfect back then didnt it. Now that old view of women staying home and tending to the children is long gone I guess? Would be great if we could go back to that time when Amercia was what it used to be like. Thank you for the great article and keep them coming.

  5. I like your description in The Kardashian Sisters Special Achievement In Cloning Award. I found it very funny if somebody really tied a knot with a xerox machine. I checked the postum and I found out that the product isn;t available anymore. I also like the vintage advertisements, which makes me feel nostalgic.

    /Kristen B.

  6. I enjoyed reading your article on mothers…..we applaud mothers worldwide for their spirit and hard work

  7. The perfect system for a happy, sterilized home would be the automatic Lysol sprayer system combined with a snug gas mask.

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