Giving life is arguably one of the most rewarding experiences to humankind. Mothers experience anticipation, pain, joy, pride, disappointments, laughter and most of all, love, with children in their lives. And while the world has evolved and moved forward in terms of living quality and is enjoying vast improvements in technology, the essence of motherhood still remains the same as it did hundreds of years ago. Mothers everywhere will still love their children unconditionally and would do everything in their power to give only the best to their children.
Let's take a trip back into the past to see what motherhood was like for women across the world. Was it very different? We think not. Glance through the photos and you will witness the tender loving gazes of mothers and the love they have for their children. It matters not what era they came from, and the country that they lived in doesn't spark any difference at all because mothers, regardless of skin color, living conditions and time will only have love for their little ones. And isn't that why we read articles pertaining to parenting and moms? It is because we all yearn to learn and to understand more about being the best moms to our kids. Period.
So sit back and relax, and browse through these timeless photos of mothers around the world who are probably long gone but who have definitely left a mark in their children's lives.
Here we are treated to a view of a mom lovingly combing her elder daughter's hair while the younger one gazes curiously at the cameraman. Going to the salon was not a luxury that many could afford back then so most mothers would develop hairdressing skills overtime to cater for the need of their children. A handful who truly excelled eventually went on to offer their services for other moms and their kids and from there began to learn the tricks of trade for some pocket money.
21 Hong Kong
The late '50s were considered a golden age for many mothers. The economy was booming and business opportunities were everywhere. Here we see a pregnant mother with her young child in tow, either to the train station or ferry wharf where most hungry foreigners disembark after a long tiring journey or to the market to sell her home made puffs and delicacies. It was a norm for mothers to go about earning extra income with their children in tow, usually with the elder kids helping out while the younger ones would play alongside mom's stall.
Believe it or not, Somalia, a place with continual conflict and insecurities was once a booming country. Things started going downhill after the '70s and many have been left fighting for survival ever since. Mother and daughter are seen fixing what seems to be a hut. Whether it is for their own living quarters or for something else we do not know, but one thing for sure, one look on the mother's face and you can see the signs of worry and tiredness. The daughter looks on with an air of distrust, probably wondering why this photo was taken.
This mother in the Union Of Socialist Republics is seen teaching her young child to ride a tricycle. We don't really get to see this kind of tricycle anymore, as more advanced designs have taken over ( with the plethora of choices, ranging from the simple but foldable ones to the downright fancy electronic ones...kids these days are spoilt for choice!), but back then this was probably considered one of the latest and more desirable models. Still, see how the mother gently but firmly holds her daughter's arms as she guides her on the tricycle. It is the same body language that mothers around the world still display, regardless of the endless safety features that our current tricycles are equipped with.
Taken sometime in the early '60s, this photo shows a U.S. mother holding her young son, probably coming to 2 years of age while he sucks on his thumb, seemingly oblivious to big brother's attempt to gain some attention.
Back then, few households had television sets ( apparently it was for those who had more cash to spend) and activities before bedtime consisted of low lights, a slight breeze through the window to cool the children down and a story or two for the little ones before they got tucked into bed. There was no baby camera, or lullabies playing on the smart tablet so a lot of effort into putting the kids to bed came from mom.
In this photo, the daughter is obviously shy while the mother seems more at ease with the photographer. Both are seen standing in front of their hut presumably under the blazing sun ( the mother's eyes are slightly squinted). While much has changed in Egypt over the years, many women in Egypt are still stay at home moms with most of their kids sticking to them like glue for the first few years of their lives before daring to venture out on their own. To them, their mother is the defender, the chef, the maid and even the life coach.
The little girl is seen comfortably snuggling up to her mother. It is a picturesque of serenity and love. The child feels safe and secure in the arms of the mother while the mother feels the soft and gentle skin of her daughter. In Ghana, a woman's status was and still is intricately bound by her ability to bear children, so mothers are usually held in the highest regard and they in turn always treasure their children above all else. And while many mothers were the primary caregivers, they were also often tasked with the responsibility of working to help out food on the table. Their jobs would vary from trading to working in the government sectors.
Browse through all the photos and one will notice a similar pattern, the mother holding onto her child in a loving embrace. It shows that motherhood is the embodiment of love. And here in Italy, it is no different. The mother is also seen gently cradling her child as they fall into slumber. In Turkey, motherhood was held as a sacred rank, with the more sacrifices made by the mother the better. So one who breastfed her child for a year versus one who only managed to do so for half a year would be held with different regards. Talk about peer pressure.
Again we see mother and child in close embrace. This mother in Italy looked extremely jovial, presumably playing with her young child. As with mothers everywhere, these women were expected to run the family ( covering the usual basics of cooking and cleaning) while their spouse held the role of breadwinners. Giving birth to plenty of healthy babies and raising them into strong healthy adults were every woman's responsibility in Italy back then. This is a stark contrast to the women of today where the rising cost of living and the increased awareness of women's rights have led to a decline in childbirth in Italy.
Women in Asia were generally considered more submissive to their spouses and less expressive towards their children. This however doesn't mean they loved their children any less. Take a look at your photo and one can see that even though the mother is obviously tired from working in what looks like a barren land, she still has her child securely tied to her back. Life for the middle to lower middle class in Korea was hard back then, often with the women having to bring their children along to work in the plantation fields or construction sites.
12 Native America
Taken eons ago, this photo depicts a simple life for both mother and child. The mother is holding an extremely beautiful child in her arms while she smiles warmly into the camera. Behind them looks to us like a view of a barren land like but may their home. They had not much need for fancy stuff, a roof over their heads and food to fill their stomach and that would have made their day. In the Native U.S., women were revered and honored in their tribes. They were tasked with the responsibility of raising their children, teaching them how to live honorably and to live with respect for the elders in their family.
While many decades have passed since this photo was taken, the parenting style of women in Japan has not changed much. The first two years of the child's life were mainly spent next to the mother, with the mom bringing the baby tied to her back in a sling everywhere she went. Back then, moms rarely left the children alone as they believed in preempting the children's needs to reduce any unnecessary fuss. Babysitters were unheard of back then, and most moms spent at most 2 hours away from their babies on a weekly basis to tend to other matters. This isn't to say that the children were spoiled, on the contrary, Children in Japan are said to have grown up to be more independent and well behaved than any other children in the world, all thanks to mom.
Like many older countries, motherhood was very much revered in India. In fact, the country itself has a nickname called Bharta Mata which means, India, My Mother. And it is for this reason India would hold yearly celebrations to honor mothers ( this celebration is very much like Mother's Day). And it is not hard to see why women with children were so revered, they were the ones who tended and fended for their children while the men were away at work. Here we see a young mother in India gently gazing at the toddler in her arms. Notice how proud she is of her child. While they may not have been as expressive as their Western counterparts, motherhood in India was and is in fact not very much different from motherhood anywhere else.
In this photo, both mother and daughter are seen strolling outside their housing premises while other children are seen happily playing around ( with the exception of one who seems to be getting a nagging from hey mother heh...). The baby is comfortably sleeping in mommy's arms as both mother and daughter bask in the warmth of the sun. This was a normal sight in England back in the '60s, with a fair amount of women being stay at home moms and their children often following their moms about as they did their laundry and house chores.
8 South Africa
Life in Africa was hard. Food was scarce for many people of little means, and medical facilities and vaccinations were practically unheard of. Many children unfortunately did not survive into adulthood. But the lack of supplies and healthcare did not stop this mother from lovingly caressing her child. Mothers in Africa did not have time to wallow in self pity. Most would just strap their babies to their backs or drag their little kids around while they did back breaking work in farming and trading. This isn't to say that all of Africa was like that. Those of the middle to upper class family had it a lot easier with more access to food and comfort.
This beautiful mother in France is seen happily talking to a sulking little blonde boy, perhaps to dissuade him from running barefoot to chase after a rabbit or the family dog. While life for them seems to have leaned towards a simpler lifestyle, many mothers were in fact more than capable of providing a good life for their children with the ample supply of government friendly family policies floating around especially after World War One. This was to combat the decline in population and to encourage more women in France to embrace motherhood, and boy did it work. Just look at how France has flourished today.
With the emergence of birth control pills and the waging World War 2, many women (singles and mothers) had no choice but to enter the workforce, hence leading to the decline in birth rates and population in Scotland. The photo above shows three mothers carrying their young ones wrapped in comfortable blankets. What we do not know is whether these mothers had to work outside of home to help their spouses or whether they remained housewives but one thing for sure, they all looked game enough to pose for a nice wonderful photo that many moms for generations to come can admire.
Before the one child policy in China was adopted, motherhood in China meant that women would bear an average of 10 children throughout their lifetime ( some of whom would not make it to adulthood as well due to the lack of healthcare facilities available to many of the citizens). A family of less than 5 was considered small and odd while a mother who could successfully raise 10 children would be praised ( especially if most of her children were sons). It was a norm to see children as young as 5 tending to the paddy field or helping their parents rear and slaughter chickens and pigs for food.
Nepal, located in the Himalayas is known worldwide as one of the best tourist destinations and a must for one's bucket list. With a diverse population, Nepal houses more than a hundred ethnic tribes, many of which live in the remote places of the mountains. Many women were uneducated and were betrothed at a young age. Thus, many became mothers even before they truly reached adulthood. So it was normal to see mothers who looked more like sisters to their children as is the case in this photo.
We see here a fashionable mother in Australia (notice how high and puffy hair was an in thing back in the swinging '60s) attending class while tending to her child in a bassinet. Apparently education and women's rights were recognized fairly early in Australia compared to many other neighboring countries, leading to women getting more recognition and credits at home as well as in the work force. You go girls!
Probably taken in a studio sometime in the late '60s to early '60s, we see a Malay family, with the mother and eldest daughter in a traditional kebaya and the father and the rest of the children sporting a more Western look. Such was the culture back then when the country was under the rule of Britain. Mothers and children learned to speak a multitude of languages ranging from their local language to languages spoken in China and India (this was needed for trading purposes) as well as the language you're reading (as most of the schools were run by missionaries and nuns).
1 Siam Reap
Before the delicious cheap brews and wonderful cuisines came about to draw flocks of tourists, Siam Reap was once a little village in Cambodia before France discovered and modernized it. Motherhood though remained untouched by the introduction of ideas from the West with many mothers still choosing to raise their children the old Siam Reap way. In this photo, the mother is seen quietly holding onto her child while the little one looks on, mother cooking dinner perhaps? Her coarse hands indicate that life was probably hard but rewarding nonetheless. This was probably what life was like for many mothers in Siam Reap, waking up before the sun rose to tend to the household and children and helping out in the fields or trading posts before retiring late at night after all the family members have fallen asleep. Such is the sacrifice of a mother.
References: Brit.co, Wikipedia