Where the DMU ( Dutch Mothers Underground) got their start no one knows for sure. But it is thought to have been birthed at a 3 pm tea time in either Grand Rapids, Michigan or Orange City, Iowa. Some much frazzled Dutch mothers banded together to put a stop to “the nonsense” going around the neighborhood. They were going to get a handle on things or lose their wooden shoes doing it.
To this very day, Grand Rapids and Orange City claim to have established themselves as charter members. This has sparked a rivalry somewhat akin to the Hatfield and McCoy feud. No loss of life has occurred. Just some good “trash talking” about old recipe originality and the questioning of one’s Dutch heritage with threats of using 23andMe.
Welcome to the club
Friesland had its very own DMU chapter. Once you had children, it was an automatic induction. No fancy ceremony like the South and their coming-out parties.
A Dutch Mothers Underground induction went more like this: A DMU member pulls into your driveway. She makes a dead run from her car to your front door. She is hoping to make it to your front door, give you a casserole and her best wishes by saying “Congratulations on your baby! Here is a casserole. It’s the last warm food you’ll eat for a while!” Then a mad sprint back to the car before her passel of children figured their way out of the car. Not classy, but you get the picture.
Once a DMU, always a DMU
The Dutch Mothers Underground was never one to be showy. But, they made up for it with their impeccable network of tattle-tales, informers and retirees- aka grandmothers. The DMU is like the Chicago Mob. You NEVER really leave.
For the most part, we kids never knew the DMU existed. They had no secret meetings. No special handshake or membership dues- as mothers, they had already paid enough. They met in broad daylight, right under our noses. At the Tuesday night band concerts, they would publically share their information. Nice and civilized looking, sitting there eating pie and drinking their coffee. All the while sharing information on “such-n-so was doing this-and-that with you-know-who!”
Let’s not forget Church. Church was one of their major meetings. Well disguised to be sure. It’s where they gave a “recap” of the past week and an “FYI” for the coming week. The DMU was a force to be reckoned with.
Drive-bys and Looky Lou’s
The trips my mom took to the store- those were just opportunities to pass secret messages in the store. If you saw your grandma driving uptown to get her mail- that was just her spying on you. The Dutch Mothers Underground was everywhere.
Remember all the times your mother put out Kool-Aid and cookies for you and your friends? She was just taking notes on the conversations while pretending to iron shirts and checking the oven.
This is for your own good
If you happened to get away with something, you’d have considered it a major accomplishment. Not much slips past the DMU. But if you got caught in a DMU sting operation, you were finished.
I remember Tim and Jane (not their real names) went out to the old chicken coop to kiss. Well someone on the DMU found out and told Tim’s Grandmother. Tim’s Grandmother, Sarah (not her real name either), found out and ran like the wind to the chicken coop to throw some cold water on the situation.
Another time some girls went down to “inspect” the boy’s fort in the woods by the railroad. Lucy (still not her real name), the mother of one of the boys and staunch DMU member, caught wind of the plan and with toddlers in tow, came marching down the tracks to put a stop to the “inspection” and possible war with the boys.
Thinking outside the box
Upon arriving at the boy’s fort, she found a group of girls mid inspection of a “bathroom” the boys constructed of brush and an old kitchen chair. The chair was missing the seat, which made using it as a toilet all the more impressive. Lucy also quickly figured out where all her toilet paper had gone a few days earlier. It hung neatly near the old seatless chair on partially snapped of limbs of the tree. Convenience and decorum.
We all know that every town, big or small has its version of the DMU. They always have your eternal best at heart. It takes a village to raise a child, and the Dutch Mothers Underground did their very best.