When the children were tucked in and the cat was fed, when the laundry was folded and the dishes put away, nine young mothers left their chores behind to do something they hadn’t done all day long: nothing.
When the children were tucked in and the cat was fed, when the laundry was folded and the dishes put away, nine young mothers left their chores behind to do something they hadn’t done all day long.
It was the summer of 1984 when Mount Morris’ long-standing Do Nothing Club called its first meeting to order. Its members were mostly stay-at-home moms whose only free time came around 9 p.m. They spent their days as most moms do: being the chief chauffeur, chef, nurse, teacher, jail warden and maid.
And so, for the few hours they spent together each month, these moms agreed on one thing: They weren’t going to do a thing.
“We needed to do nothing, because we had so much to do,” Nancy Tuten said.
“We actually did quite a bit,” insisted Louise Erhart.
Tuten conceded: “We solved all the world’s problems.”
The ladies would giggle and gab over dessert into the wee hours of the morning, forming a bond that would take them well into the next century.
“The main itinerary was dessert,” Leilani Hillis said with a laugh. “Coming up with a dessert to impress everybody.”
“Actually,” Erhart quickly stepped in, “the rule was that you didn’t have to do anything, because it’s the Do Nothing Club.”
These days, more than two decades later, the Do Nothing Club still makes a point to gather over dessert every month. But now, the ladies aren’t discussing the new second-grade teacher at the elementary school or that crazy thing someone’s child did when he thought no one was looking. Today’s conversations are of the more grown-up variety. About a son who is buying his first house, a daughter whose wedding they attended. They talk of grandchildren and vacations, losing parents and saying good-bye to friends.
And every so often, it’s fun just to reminisce.
So that’s what four Do-Nothings did recently, when they took their monthly meeting on the road to visit a member who has since moved to the Chicago suburbs. They paused to remember exactly how such a club got started, and then the story came flowing out.
“I remember the day! I remember the day!” Diane Murray said to Erhart. “We were at a concert, and you and I were talking about how much fun it would be to get a bunch of people together.”
They each agreed to invite a friend, who would invite a friend. Before they knew it, the Do Nothing Club was formed.
Younger mothers took parenting wisdom from those with more experience. Everyone knew their children wouldn’t get away with mischief because word got around quickly between club members.
“The kids used to call it the Mother’s Spy Network, because nothing could take place in the school without us finding out about it,” Tuten said with a smile.
But the group was more than laughs and parenting advice for many members. The ladies stepped up to help long-standing member Patti True as she battled with breast cancer, and they continue honoring her at each get together — even now, nearly three years after her death.
They also rallied around Murray when much of her extended family died in a short period of time, leaving her overwhelmed with grief.
“I was this adult orphan,” she said. “But I could come to club once a month and we would laugh. It felt so good to just be normal.”
The Do Nothing Club became a surrogate family for this group of newcomers to Mount Morris. Each woman in the club had moved there from somewhere else, leaving her friends and family behind.
And that bond they formed out of a common desire for friendship is one these women now say will last a lifetime.
“It’s nice having a constant in your life,” Erhart said. “Your health changes, your children grow up and leave, husbands come and go in some cases. Now we are getting to a stage in life when we are losing parents.
“Life is a series of losses: You lose your youth, your child moves out, you lose your parents. But having one group of people who you get together with is cathartic.”
Elizabeth Davies can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.