Saturday, April 23, 2011

Whatever happened to Mother?

Recently, what has really stood out to me in my life as a mother and homemaker is the lack of knowledge and skills we have been passed down by the previous generation or two. I am talking about actual, nitty-gritty practical stuff - everything from how to sew, garden, cook, etc. to how to raise children, organize our time most efficiently, etc. More importantly, I am talking about spiritual wisdom passed down to us by previous generations of godly parents.

I mean, our "foremothers" a hundred years and more ago did not have many of the modern conveniences we enjoy. Think running water and electricity. Air-conditioning. Appliances that only require us to load and start them. In addition to lacking these tools, they had a much greater workload of growing and preserving their own food, tending animals, sewing their own clothes, and generally making many of their own supplies.  They did all that while looking feminine. Birth control was largely unavailable, and even against the law. Reading through the "Little House" series was both fascinating and impressive. 

Yet in spite of all this, it seems ladies in ages past were at least as able as we are today to take care of all their responsibilities, while also turning out children that were unlike today's next generation. Clearly, they knew something about being efficient, organized, and/or hard-working that we may be lacking. 

When and where was all that knowledge lost? Why did ladies sometime in the last century decide that knowledge that had been passed down for many generations was suddenly unnecessary and obsolete? 

In Titus 2, the Bible commands "aged women" to "teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." 

It is sad and sobering to look around in my own personal life and mostly find a lack of older ladies that fulfill this command. Feminism may be falling out of fashion nowadays as women are realizing they have been duped and robbed of this world's greatest calling and occupation - but it seems to have greatly affected, even destroyed, the previous generation. 

For instance, I don't think I personally know any ladies in the two generations directly before mine that did not use birth control to some extent. In fact, the only people I know that have as many or more children than we do, are our age - they are peers, and while there are many things I can learn from them, they are not the older, more mature mentors that us younger ladies could benefit from so greatly. The ones who once were where we are today, who can give us perspective, encouragement, and support. There is just not much practical advice about how to keep the home running smoothly with lots of little ones that can be gleaned from people who had just one or two kids, which were babysat in school much of their awake time.

Homeschooling is of course another area that it almost impossible to get advice from older ladies on. Then there are practical homemaking skills, such as cooking and sewing, which were discarded, I'm guessing, in favor of teaching young girls how to correctly apply makeup, or other worthless pursuits. Once, I saw a girl who went to high school put a diaper on a baby backward (velcro tabs closing on the back, rather than tummy). She was generally clueless as to how to handle a baby.

Going into marriage and motherhood so ill-prepared is like starting out deep in debt. You work all day and never get ahead, because you started out so far behind. Sure, girls who do not know how to care for an infant will eventually learn, but it will be a tough and frustrating undertaking. It would have been so much easier to adjust to having a baby if young ladies were already used to caring for them. That is just one small area. Now add to that other responsibilities that a young wife might have, such as cooking, homemaking, keeping the finances, etc. and if she is equally clueless in these areas she will have a very rough go of it. A frazzled, frustrated, and overextended young mother might start feeling the repercussions in her marriage, too.

Today's mothers of older children are often made to feel bad about expecting those children to help babysit and care for younger children, help with chores, or otherwise "earn their keep". After all, it might keep them from hanging out with all their friends at the mall! We all know that anyone under 18 is entitled to pursue nothing but fun in life, right? Thankfully, my own mother had no such qualms. She taught me everything from breadbaking to all sorts of crafts, even though she considered being called a "housewife" extremely offensive. In fact, she is not even a Christian, yet her values were oftentimes more traditional than what Christian mothers today embrace. My brothers and I were expected to help clean the house, do yardwork, take care of younger siblings, and on and on. All that while expecting us to get nothing but good grades, having an early and strict curfew, and generally not allowing us to have any fun. Or so it seemed at the time. 

Over the years, I have made an effort to pass on knowledge that I have gained to younger ladies who did not learn them growing up. But again and again, I find myself amazed at how a girl ever grew to adulthood unable to even cook an egg. The gap of practical skills and knowledge is so great. 

Even greater and more tragic still is the lack of faith exhibited by mothers and fathers who considered having children optional, something to be traded in favor of having more money, or "me time", or whatever else they considered more important. How will they pass on to us the things they were commanded to teach us younger women, when they are lacking the most basic ingredient of Christianity - faith in God?

Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. - Jeremiah 6:16 

Let us who care more about the next generation serve them better by asking God for wisdom, and teaching our own children right. There is no substitute for godly parents who assume responsibility for seeking out the best for their children in every area of life. No pastor, teacher, or daycare worker will ever be able to take our place. Nor is it a job that in this world will ever be recognized for its true value, or appreciated for its efforts. But it is the only right thing to do.

And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. - Isaiah 58:12 


  1. Wow. What a wonderful post. I'm so thankful that my mother taught us how to cook and clean and sew among other things. I love teaching my girls these things. It would be nice if more older women knew this stuff and were better able to guide.

    It's very fortunate that our children will have that security when they are grown. And hopefully it will jumpstart the return to traditional mothering and housekeeping and they can pass it along and so on.

    I'm going to share on FB. This was so lovely to read today. Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. I am so relating to this post. My grandmother was raised through the depression. She cooked everything frugally from scratch. She kept her house neat as a pin. She was an incredible seamstress. She always made an effort to look neat and feminine. They moved to the city in about 1958, when my mom was about 2. My grandmother got a job working shiftwork. My grandfather also worked shiftwork. A sitter/neighbor kept my mom until she was school age and my grandmother got better hours.

    My mom, an only child, never had to help do a thing. Several times my grandmother said, "I don't want my daughter to grow up with such a hard life, as I had." Mom never even made her bed; my grandmother made it for her after she went to school. Grandmother didn't have the time to teach her young (it does take time) and by time she was 13 and housework would be easier, it was like pulling teeth to get her to do it.

    When I got married, I was so clueless that I even had to call my grandmother to ask her how to mop the floor after I got married! I thought I had really something if a box of Hamburger Helper turned out right. Today, praise the Lord, I can cook from scratch, keep house pretty well, can food, bake bread, sew, organize my time and priorities, and a load more. My biggest problem I have now is self-discipline. I grew up with no responsibilities and sometimes fall into my old ways.

    My children have a lot of chores and responsibilities. I ask my kids right-out to watch their younger siblings. My older 2 (ages 8 and 6) can both bathe the baby and change diapers. I don't carry one grain of guilt about it either. I get some flack from my parents and in-laws, but I wish I'd had these opportunities instead of wasting my childhood on foolishness. Children, of course, need play time, but we're also grooming them for adulthood. I don't want to squander this time.

    As usual, great post.

  3. Wow, you are SO right about EVERYTHING you wrote. I am now teaching myself all the things my mother knew very well how to do but never showed me like sewing, cooking, gardening. It would be such a huge time saver if I already knew all these things and less stressful trying to "catch up". I am making sure I don't make that mistake with my kids.

  4. Zsuzsanna, this was a wonderful post! I lacked many skills as a new wife and mother also. Fortunately my husband encouraged me to learn new things and eventually I got more learned in household skills! Though it is difficult to re-learn ALL the skills that have been lost by oneself!

    My mother-in-law bore and raised 11 children in Ireland. Though unfortunately I know she regretted having no 'control' over her fertility, as contraception was illegal at that time. She had no running water early on, no electricity, had cows to milk, handwashing laundry for 13 people, dishes, cooking and caring for her elderly mother-in-law too! When I ask her how she did it, she simply says "Its just what we did back then, we just got on with it!"

    We surely do need to strive to teach our children the vital skills they will need for adulthood. They will be thankful for it in years to come.

    Great post!

  5. Best post ever! I´ve been reading your blog for about a year now, and I like you and your family so much. Your wisdom in many areas really helps me a lot. But these words are truly eye-opening. I´ve often thought along these lines myself but never seen things so clearly as you just did (and wrote).

  6. My gosh, it's not rocket science! It took me five minutes to learn how to diaper my daughter, thirty minutes to learn to mop a floor, and maybe a month to learn to cook healthy meals.

    The women "back in the day" often had at least one servant. Or they worked so hard they died at 30. Or they died in childbirth. Or their kids went around dirty or neglected. Mothers two hundred years ago certainly did not spend every moment of every day with their children, as you do!

    The Little House books portray strong, opinionated educated women who don't always go to church, and who refuse to promise to obey their husbands when they marry. The four Ingalls girls produced a total of one grandchild (Laura's daughter Rose), who grew up to become a career woman. In fact, three of the Ingalls daughters worked after marriage; all except Mary, who was blind and most likely couldn't find employment.

  7. Anon, you are only validating my point. Maybe "Ma Ingalls", who was obviously very skilled and resourceful, should have passed more than her skills down to her daughters. Their convictions may have been stronger if they regularly attended a scriptural body of believers.

    I was referring to the Little House series as a reference of what conditions women back in the day lived under, not as an example of how to raise our own children.

    I do not believe that average families all had "at least one servant", but even so, there is no way they could have taken more work off the ladies' shoulders than our appliances do. My kitchenaid mixer churns my butter for me at the push of a lever. My grain mill grinds our grains into flour at the push of a button. We have washers, dryers, running water, food and clothes ready for the buying, and on and on. I would need a whole host of servants to do those same daily tasks for me if it were not for the appliances.

  8. I agree with you and 'raise you' an opinion. I find that common sense and important skills are not only not being passed down to young women, but also to young men. "Whatever happened to father?" is an equally pertinent question to ask. I find that young men have become clueless in what is considered the 'male arts' as well.

    I find that some are raising clueless men as well as clueless women. Men need to be taught to be fathers, providers, and possess useful skills, just as women should be taught what is expected of them. They need to be prepared to have a family and act in a responsible, Christian manner, just as much as this generation of young women do.

    For many reasons, there are children without benefit of a father. My father's father was killed, as many were, in the War. He and his brothers found infinite benefit from the lessons and examples of relatives, friends, neighbours, and religious leaders, all of whom taught them lessons in becoming kind, Godly, men. I think we all need to look at ourselves and ask what we can do to help the next generation become men and women of which we can be proud.

    Also, so many teachers are excellent mentors, and while I agree they are not the same as a parent, their interest and support can make a positive difference in a child's life.

    May God be with You and the Family,


  9. If we begin to speak historically regarding America, many women had help with housework in the form of slaves, indentured servants, and young women whose families were in desperate need of money.


  10. Just a note on fewer kids in some previous generations. My grandmother had 3 kids, in the 40s and 50s. She had several more pregnancies that ended in miscarriage. Why? Easy. Her husband was Rh+ and she was Rh-. After her first child was born Rh+, her immune system attacked every Rh+ child she conceived later. She lost all of them to hemolytic anemia. (Her immune system attacked and destroyed the red blood cells of the unborn child).

    My grandmother wanted a large family, but was granted only 3 kids. There are many reasons, besides birth control, that a woman may not have many children. Be careful in judging when you don't know all the facts.

  11. I think that household duties should not be restricted to women. Men should learn these duties as well. I think that in today’s society there are some men who should be a stay at home husband.

    The man is the head of the house. Therefore the man should spend his time making his house a home. It is his house so why not let him take care of it. Let him fix the leaky faucet or do paint touch ups in the bathroom etc.

    There is nothing wrong with a woman working or financially supporting the family because the husband is supporting the entire family/ household by his good works. He is saving the family money by learning tricks and man duties to fix himself instead of the woman having to call a plumber or a painter.
    I personally think the world would be a much better and equal place if women were running the government as well as workforce. Less violence would occur. This is exactly why many state correctional facilities have hired women to work in the prisons and jails. They deter crime and calm down certain situations.

  12. This is so true! When I took a cooking class in school, girls were clueless. We had to make a simple batch of cookies from scratch. No one knew what to do, I put the ingredients in the bowl and used the mixer. The other girls in my group asked in shock "you have done this before?!" I didn't grow up in a Christian home, I was raised catholic and got saved and started going to a Baptist church at 17. However we were still taught morals, I couldn't date till 17. My mom cooked all our meals, not from a box eaither. She always would say "come in here and help me cook this, you will need to know how to cook for your family someday." Her mom had cancer and was to ill to do much. At the age of 11 my mom was cooking all the meals for their family of 9. Her and her other sister also did all the laundry, shopping, and taking care of the younger kids, basically ran the house. They also took care of their sick mother.Their dad worked all day, and having to do all that on top of his job would have been to much, back then girls knew how to do that stuff. Today you would have a hard time finding women knowing how to do that stuff, and a much harder time finding a 11 year old who could!

  13. I COMPLETELY agree with you!!!!! "Going into marriage and motherhood so ill-prepared is like starting out deep in debt. You work all day and never get ahead, because you started out so far behind." This is me to a "T" right now!! It can be overwhelming, as I was "raised in a gym" and life was ALL ABOUT sports and school, but I am so thankful for those like you who are willing to teach what they learn!
    Katie D.

  14. Skills like how to live in the real world are very important- I was taught to do my laundry at age six and learned to cook at ten. More often than not I ended up doing the laundry of everyone else in student housing because they didn't know how to do it. Made quite a bit of money doing it too.

    But you honestly think a bunch of "scriptural convictions" are going to help anyone in the real world? You're crazy. Faith doesn't pay the bills. You can't eat faith. My mom was a good Christian lady, with very strong faith, but she was literally the most useless person I know. Other than cooking and cleaning, she had no other marketable skills. My dad finally got sick of it, divorced her, and went to court to get custody of me. He won, and he never looked back. He still taught me to cook and clean, but I learned a lot of things from him I never would have learned from my mom, with her "convictions." My dad told me something I've never forgotten: talk of values and virtues and righteousness are just pretty words that people who want to scam you say to get you to part with your money.

    My dad took good care of me. He bought me a television and a computer (things I wasn't allowed to have in my mother's house, because of "impure influences"), and it set off a lifelong fascination with technology. I learned how to program computer games.

    Now I'm 27 years old and making six figures every year. I'm married to a good man, and with our salaries combined we have a total combined income of seven figures. I have an adorable little son (who's shaping up to be mini-me- he loves my video games).

    I haven't seen my mother in years, and she sure isn't getting anywhere near my son. I want him to be successful and wealthy.

    There's no room for old stories in today's world. You'll end up zombified like my mom, stuck in the past and wondering what she did wrong, or you'll be successful, making money and living well. But hey, if you want your poor children to grow up to work for minimum wage, then go right ahead.

    For your children's sake, teach them things they will need to know to live in the real world- cooking and laundry and gardening. But also make sure that they learn even more important things- economics, computer sciences, and mathematics. THAT'S millions of times more valuable than the placebo for misfortune that you're teaching them now.

  15. There is more than one area of this post that I agree and disagree with you on but what stood out to me the most was your comment on birth control.

    Birth control has existed long before it was in pill form. It doesn't take modern knowledge to see that every child is a huge responsibility and work load. Also giving birth was the most dangerous time of a woman's life. Watching female relatives and friends die while giving birth was a huge motivation to at least *try* to limit the amount of times they became pregnant.

    The reason why families were generally larger was because the reliability of non-hormonal birth control (rhythm method, douching, herbs, natural spermicides, etc.) were not nearly as reliable as modern birth control. You seem to assume that every woman who had a large family actually WANTED that large of a family. The huge physical and emotional toll that having 5..10..15 children has on a woman isn't something that everyone happily seeks out. Not now and not then.

    I'm not arguing whether birth control has been a positive or negative influence on our world. I just think that your idea of what life was life for women of previous generations is The reason why women so quickly embraced modern technology is because it made their lives easier.

    Life was HARD for these women. They knew the skills that you admire because they would not have survived without them not because they were trying to emulate a lifestyle that they thought was morally superior to the lifestyle of their neighbor. They didn't have nearly as much time to sit around and compare what they do to everyone around them.

  16. To the previous "Anonymous" commenter~ I'm sorry that you have no relationship with your mother. How sad. My mother and I are very close. I do agree with you about teaching the necessary life skills like cooking, cleaning, etc. I am a 26 yr old married mother of one and all my needs (and wants) are provided for...I have never lacked anything. You said, "Faith doesn't pay the bills. You can't eat faith." You're right, but faith in a God Who provides a job and physical health to pay for the bills and provides the food for us to eat makes all the difference. As I said, I know this from personal experience. You seem to be obsessed with money/wealth though, so are you trusting in yourself to provide for all your needs? You boast of your combined seven figure income. I have one important question for you, what will your money and video games(computer science skills) do for you after your minimal time on earth in spent? What are you plans for eternity? Eternity is forever, much longer than the amount of time you've spent, and possibly will spend, here on earth. You have two options, it's your choice to make. Heaven or Hell. I chose Heaven...Here's what you have to look forward to if you continue to reject Christ's free gift of salvation and choose to live for money.
    "And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence."~Luke 16:22-26.
    Don't take my word for it, God said it, not me. Want to choose Heaven instead, and Christ's free gift? "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."~John 3:16. Please give this some thought.

  17. Amen to everything in your post. Awesome.

  18. Great post. This is exactly what happened to my mother. My grandma didn't get the chance to teach her how to cook, sew, garden, do laundry, etc., because her incredibly worthless husband left her for another woman, and she (a housewife with 4 children who didn't use birth control ever) suddenly had to move in with her mother and get a job to support her children.

    My mom got married at age 17 and taught herself how to cook, sew, knit, budget, do laundry, grow her own food, cloth diaper, and much more just through reading books.

    I'm lucky enough to have had a mom to teach me all of those things, and I did my own laundry at age 7 and mowed the lawn at 8. I'm very proud of my mom and glad that I have her. Your daughters (and sons!) are so lucky that they have a mom to look out for them and care for them and teach them truly useful skills. God bless them.

    Oh, and my roommate was so ignorant with cooking skills, she got food poisoning from incorrectly thawing her meat! Ridiculous!!!

  19. My mother hated housework with a passion, so it took a long time for me to accept it. When I moved out the only thing I knew how to cook was spaghetti bologneise. Like you said, I couldn't even cook an egg (actually, I still can't, those things are hard! and instructional websites just wont be consistent for hard and soft boil times)

    Thankfully I was homeschooled (for educational reasons, my parents were not christian) and had a bit more common sence than many of my peers, I was willing to experiment and try without being told what to do. Now I can cook most anything from scratch and do so for many items. There's always a few mishaps, like the time I served up near-raw chicken or the time I burnt pasta (seriously, you can burn pasta? I've done it twice!)

    One of the greatest helps for me was my grandmother, and another was the accessability of infomation we enjoy now through the internet.

  20. @Krystle Watters: I'm guessing I'll be taking the dirt nap for eternity after I'm dead. You seem to be a nice person, so I don't want to put this insensitively, but you've been scammed.

    There are literally hundreds of thousands of belief systems in the world- what makes you so certain you've chosen the correct one? My husband is an atheist. I'm agnostic. My father is an atheist. My mother is of a faction of Christianity (I don't remember which one now). My boss is Shinto. My best friend and her husband are Hindu. I have friends who are Muslim, Mormon, Buddhist, and even Zoroastrian. I have a coworker who's even a Scientologist.

    I am not so arrogant that I think I can understand the nature of the universe. I have studied the Bible. I have also studied the Qu'ran, and the Vedas, Upanishads, and Puranas. What makes the Bible intrinsically more correct than these other scriptures? You cannot use the fact that the Bible says that it is the word of God to back that up- all scriptures say that, but how do you know which one is correct? It's a logical fallacy, using a text to prove that same text.

    Every religion claims to be the only way to heaven/eternal paradise/Nirvana/whatever. How do you know? That's my question- how do you know whether or not you are following the right one?

    Happy Easter to you, however, and I thank you for your politeness.

  21. Anon-
    I'm a Christian and believe the Bible. I have called on Christ to save me. I believe 100% that the Bible is true, and that I will go to heaven when I die. People that don't believe the Bible and in God will go to hell. So if I'm wrong then I guess I won't lose much and the end will be the grave. When people that don't believe in God find out their wrong, they will go to hell for ever. So I'm not the one who has something to lose, if you don't accept Christ, you're the one who is in troble. Atheists don't believe in God, but God doesn't believe in atheists. The Bible says in every man's heart he knows there is a God. It's very sad that your mother was left and you have no relationship with her. To answer your question, yes faith does pay the bills, and can get you food to eat, if you follow principles in the Bible. It teaches about working hard, and it says, if you don't work you don't eat. It teaches to rely on God for everything. God spoke the world and us into existence, he can give us our every need. Is it always easy, no life isn't easy. Life is not just about how much money you can make. It will all burn up in the end. The only two things that last forever is the Bible and the souls of mankind. I really hope you come to accept Jesus, or you will find out you were the one who has been scanned.

  22. Concerning Ma Ingalls' life skills and convictions...

    All the girls except Mary homesteaded/farmed at one point after reaching adulthood. Just because they worked at one point or another and didn't have lots of children, doesn't mean they didn't know the life skills or convictions that Ma did. That's ridiculous.

    Laura couldn't have anymore after her son died because she was affected by the disease she contracted after having her second child. Grace had health problems and Carrie's condition is unknown to me, but many women go through life without having children even though they want them.

  23. To anonymous who is searching:

    Jesus is the only teacher in all the religions of the world to die for the sins of the world so that those who receive Him can go to Heaven. He is also the only one with an empty tomb.

    All other religions teach that you must do/be something in order to attain. Christianity is Jesus sacrificing Himself on our behalf because none of us could ever be good enough to attain righteousness.

  24. To Anonymous who despises her own mother - Your post drove tears to my eyes. What a mean and cold hearted person you are. I have never heard anyone talk about their own mother in such a cruel way. But let me assure you, all your money won't get you to heaven and you won't be able to take it with you when you die.

    Your poor mom!

  25. I wish my mother taught me how to cook. I'm a firefighter and I want to cook wholesome meals for my fellow firefighters. The better the food, the better they can work. I like reading your recipes and sharing it with the guys back at the fire house.

  26. @Anonymous~Thanks for replying and for your politeness, it is appreciated. :) I too have studied most of the religions you mentioned and spoken to different people who follow these teachings. I found that most have a lot in common, which is in some way/shape/form~work your way to Heaven, or whatever they call the afterlife. However, no other form of faith/religion besides Christianity offers to pay the full penalty for mankind's problem (sin) which condemns all humankind to suffering eternity in Hell. Other faith systems are about what we as humans can do for the "higher power" or god, or they just give up trying and say there must be no god. Christ has paid the price in full, all we have to do is believe and take the gift. I know you're Agnostic. You did say,"I'm guessing I'll be taking the dirt nap for eternity.." and, "That's my question- how do you know whether or not you are following the right one?" Well, I'm not guessing, or hoping, about my eternity. I am 100% positive that as soon as my body dies, my soul/spirit (the Krystle on the inside) will be with Jesus. Not because any good I've done though, but because I know God created me, my sins have a consequence(separation from God in hell forever), and I've already asked Jesus to forgive them, so He has. As I said, I know this b/c I've studied religions, they had nothing to offer me...just a bunch of doubts and questions, no real answers. True Christianity is simple and has all the answers. I also have a relationship with Christ so I pray very specifically and tell no human of my request. I have had countless very specific answers to prayers, I don't believe in coincidences anymore. That's just one of many personal proofs I have to confirm that I've chosen the correct "religion" and I've not been scammed. Plus I can now understand what the Bible says, I have no guilt, I have peace, answers to all of life's questions (in the Bible), etc.
    I'm glad you've been willing to read the Bible in the past. This is long I know, but if you've taken the time to read this note, could you please consider looking at this? It won't take long, explains how you don't have to guess about your after life anymore, and it has pictures. (I'm a visual learner and thought you might be too) :) You will need to be open-minded though, it is Bible verses. Let me know what you think. Thanks! :)


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