The Dart: Mother of 10 is neighborhood nurturer

Published 12:03 am Monday, October 10, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Martha Credit looks out her bedroom window Friday afternoon on Sunset Boulevard in Natchez and reminisces about her experiences raising 10 children.

NATCHEZ — As you walk toward the cul-de-sac that brings Sunset Boulevard to a dead end you will see a house on the left that proudly displays approximately 25 trophies on a mantle in a window over the front door.

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Martha Credit holds a family photograph outside her house on Sunset Boulevard in Natchez Friday afternoon.

Those trophies are signs of a proud mother named Martha Credit, a lady that everyone on Sunset Boulevard in Natchez, where The Dart landed Thursday, affectionately calls Madear.

Credit, 75, is the mother of 10 children, all born and raised in Natchez. Many of the trophies belong to her youngest son Morris, who played point guard for Natchez High School in the late 1990s.

Credit is known as a mother figure and a nurturer to everyone in the neighborhood, and she has had plenty of experience raising children. She is either mother, grandmother or great-grandmother to 73 of her family members, she said.

“I’m known as Madear for Sunset (Boulevard) and Mascagnia (Street),” she said.

Credit was born and raised in Natchez by her parents Ida and Will Mathews.

She married Henry Credit in 1952 and one year later they started their family with the birth of William Henry Credit. The Credits would have nine more children over the next 26 years, the youngest being Morris Credit in 1979. In between William Henry and Morris came: Shelia, James, Irish, Thomas, Marsha, Sonette, Charles and Pearl.

Martha said what the family lacked in money they made up for in love for one another, and they managed to find ways to cope.

“We had one TV and everybody watched it,” she said. “We had one telephone, and one big ole tub. (Henry) would bathe them and then pass them to me, and I would dry them off.”

Martha said she is proud of all nine of her children who all did well in school and have grown up to be successful adults, and she still grieves for the one child that died much too young.

The Credit’s fifth child, Thomas, died at just three weeks old from dehydration caused by diarrhea, Martha said.

“It was very hard,” she said. “I still cry for him.”

Martha said Thomas’ brothers and sisters were too young to comprehend his death, and it was not until the birth of her next child, Marsha, that she was able to work toward moving on.

With her children grown, Martha said her favorite times now come during holidays, especially Christmas, when many of the Credit clan converge on Natchez to celebrate with their Madear.

“Christmas they all come to my house,” she said. “You can’t get through to go anywhere, because you have to step over people.”

Although Martha prefers to share the accomplishments of her children, there is one award given to her that does bring her a little bit of pride. In 1986 the Bluff City Post named her mother of the year, she said.

Martha said she believes in a strong family bond, but she is also not afraid to provide strict discipline if needed, and her grandson Charles can testify to that.

“We went to Sunday school every Sunday, and if they didn’t, they didn’t leave the house on Sunday,” Martha said. “I told Charles to put his dress pants on one Sunday morning and when we got to church I noticed he didn’t have his socks on. He said, ‘you didn’t tell me to put my socks on.’ I smacked him with the Bible I was holding.”

Charles, now a preacher, still recalls that incident, Martha said.

“He says, ‘I got Bible-whipped. That’s why I’m preaching now,’” Martha said.

Recently the pitter-patter of little feet has slowed at the Credit home, but she still takes care of Morris’ children Kennedy, Madison and Kendall along with other grandchildren from time to time, she said.

“We actually have grass growing in the back yard (now),” she said. “Every kid in the neighborhood used to be on (the yard), so the grass couldn’t grow.”

Martha said she loves to be a nurturer, and her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are each a blessing to her.

“I couldn’t explain in words (what they mean to me),” she said. “My children are all I have.”