“Mother” is a term that is said often throughout the day when a child is in need; however, the term becomes more of an endearment and honor as the child grows older.
Jettie Pruitt, 93, of Baldwyn, is enjoying the endearment and honor of being called “mother” by many.
Jettie began her role as a mother earlier than most. While only 15 years old, Jettie married the late W.D. Pruitt who was seven years her senior. Together they embraced the life of farming and soon the role of parents. They shared this bond for 57 years.
Jettie became a mother at age 16 with the birth of her first child, the late Peggy (Tolar).
“I just loved seeing and holding a baby. I guess I really had mother instincts. I loved to feed and take care of all of my children,” she said.
Jettie eventually had four children – Peggy, Dean, Mancil and Mary (Hendrix).
While still enduring the economic aftermath of the Great Depression, Jettie and W.D. were forced to be a double-income family. Jettie worked 42 years at Blue Bell factory while W.D. worked 42 years as a mortician at Waters Funeral Home during the years their kids were growing up.
“I had to have a babysitter and house-sitter for my family while working. I was only making $16 a week, but I paid the sitter $5 a week to watch the children and help keep the house,” Jettie noted.
Every day after work, Jettie found something to teach each of her children.
“W.D. and I always agreed that all of our children should know how to cook and clean. That way when they got married they worked together if one parent was working or sick. And remember, we didn’t have household appliances then either,” she said.
Jettie and W.D. also made sure that each of their children attended church regularly. Today, the Pruitt family is proud that each of their four children has served as either a Sunday School teacher, deacon, or church worker.
“This is great testimony for our family, and it makes me proud to see what we tried to teach them was right has stayed with them,” Jettie said.
‘Keep the family strong’
Today Jettie is the grandmother of 11, great-grandmother of 28, and great-great grandmother of 31 and has one great-great grandbaby on the way.
“Right after my husband’s funeral, I gathered my children together and told them we had to keep the family strong. We decided to gather here at my house as a family and have a meal for each my children’s birthdays and to continue our Christmas Eve family gathering and meal,” Jettie added.
“I came from a big family of eight brothers and sisters and love being able to have a big family for special occasions and holidays. There is always some of the family coming in and out of the house in between each of those family gatherings.”
Jettie noted that many parents think parenting is over when their kids leave the home; however, she and W.D. continued to try to teach their children and grandchildren morals and doing the right thing in many situations.
She noted that the most she ever worried about her children was when they were teenagers, and she stayed by the window late at night watching for their car to return home.
“I have never considered motherhood challenging. I have always called it a joy. I did make mistakes along the way, but I learned as I went because I loved my children. If I could share any advice to young mothers, it would be to make sure and listen to your children. Spend time with them and love them. Find out who they are and love them for it,” Jettie shared.
Mother’s Day Now
Kristen Hall, 32, of the Baldwyn-Guntown area is a young mother who is following in similar footsteps of Jettie Pruitt.
Kristen and her husband Tony also desire a large family that they can share family get-togethers and special occasions with.
Kristen and Tony have been married 12 years this June and decided during their dating years that they wanted four children. Today they have five children Sidda, Tate, Tegen, Lainey, Ellie plus one of the way.
“We have always waited until delivery to find out the gender of each of our children. Although we did somewhat plan for our fifth child, when I held her on my chest for the first time and Tony said ‘It’s a girl,’ I told him we had do this again,” Kristen said.
Kristen shared that her inspiration to have a big family came from her Mawmaw Dot having seven children and the families would have get-together’s often.
“We want our children to come back home to us in the future and bring their families over,” Kristen said.
In addition to being a full-time mother, Kristen also works part-time two days a week at North Mississippi Women’s Hospital as a labor and delivery nurse.
Kristen expressed much gratitude toward her mother Karla Stone and mother-in-law Trish Hall, “They help me with the children when I am working and some of the house work when they can.”
“The most physically challenging part of being a mother of five is the laundry. Like this morning I had to dry off with a Minnie Mouse towel. But I love it and love my kids.”
Three of the Hall children are school-aged and attend Baldwyn Schools. Tony carries them to school each morning leaving Kristen at home to tend to the children. Kristen notes that a typical day for the family includes getting ready for school then do some cleaning and spending time with younger children at home. Once the three older children return home, homework is a first and foremost priority; then play time, supper time, bath time, and devotions before bed.
“Tony and I want to try to have a devotion with all of our children together at night in the living room. Each of our children take their turn saying their prayers. This is something that is important to us as a family and for our children as they grow up to be adults,” Kristen added.
The Hall’s also work as a team when talking with their children about bad behavior.
“Being a mother is challenging emotionally because they grow up too fast. As we talk with the kids or look back at pictures, we realize how fast they are growing. But the best parts of motherhood are when our children pause to smile at me, say ‘I love you,’ tell me I’m pretty, or give me a random hug or kiss,” Kristen said.
Kristen noted that if she could share any advice with new mothers, it would be listen to what other moms have to say, but use it to figure out your own style whether it’s about sleeping, feeding, disciplining, or whatever.
“Even with a newborn, don’t waste time being stressed or worried. Take it slow and most of all, enjoy being a mother,” Kristen added.