Book Title: The Real Home
Twentieth-Century Motherhood
Chapter 12
by: Mrs. Vesta J. Farnsworth

A little boy ran to a neighbor’s house, and with moistened eyes and anxious voice, inquired: “Do you know where my mamma is? When I came from school, she was not at home.”

A little girl, walking disconsolately on the street, met a friend. “Have you seen my mother?” she questioned.

A tiny tot, in charge of sister, pressed his face against the window and peered out into the empty street. “Why can’t mamma come?” he moaned….

“Where’s your mother, children?” inquires the man of the house, as he comes from work and looks about the empty rooms.

“If only mother were here!” sighs the afflicted one, racked with pain; “oh, how much I need my mother!”…

Everybody calls for mother. She is in constant demand. None other is so missed, so surely wanted, if she is not within reach every moment of the day. Then is she not the most important, the busiest, the most needful person in the world?…

In no other relation of human life is there love like a true mother’s. There may be many friends, but only one mother. Her love is born in sacrifice. It is a living, a continuous sacrifice, one that is never consumed. In the true mother heart it exists from the time she hears the first baby cry until she draws her last breath….

Mother lives not to please herself, but others. She exalts not herself, but others. She works like a slave, not for herself, but for others. She denies herself comforts, luxuries, that her children may have them. Her best plans are made for them. When they suffer, she suffers more. When they are in disgrace, the deepest wound pierces her heart. If they are honored, her soul sings for joy. Their love is all the reward she seeks, and she gives back with usury more than she ever receives. This accounts for the universal cry, “Mother, mother; give me my mother!” Hers is a martyr’s life, welcomed, accepted from choice, and in which she glories. Crown her with the most dazzling crown given to mortals….

MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN

History is not silent concerning the influence of mothers of renowned men. Moses’ mother was in reality the emancipator of Israel. Her faith saved the boy from death; her God-imparted wisdom led her to train him so that when he left his home at twelve years of age, he was able to choose between the pleasures of sin and a heavenly crown.

Samuel’s mother so impressed him with the thought that he was God’s child that he grew from beautiful boyhood to become a holy prophet, an upright ruler. The mother took him “a little coat” each year. Surely it was a modest, comely garment; for she had too much sense to treat her boy as though he were a doll or a plaything. That little coat teaches a lesson, for not only does the mother clothe the body of her child, but she forms his habits, - clothes the soul for glory and immortality or for degradation and death. The coat of character is never outgrown. It never wears out. She fashions the garment like Samuel’s, - thread by thread, stitch by stitch. Hannah’s unconscious influence, her daily words and acts, made Samuel a man of God…

In many humble homes “little coats” of character are now being woven which will make their wearers the precious of earth in times of test and trial. Examples of faithful, unselfish motherhood are not lacking in our century. Abraham Lincoln’s mother in her log cabin in Kentucky, gave the bent to the character of that President who is now universally honored. President Garfield was never more manly than when he stooped to kiss his dear old mother before the multitudes assembled at his inauguration.

THE MOTHER AS HOMEMAKER

The mother is the presiding genius of the home. This is why her place is there. The home is her kingdom, where she is the queen. She “plays the accompaniment” in the song of life for every member of the family. How sadly she is missed if her accompaniment is silent because of illness, unfitness, or death! The music is sad or sweet or glad as she marks the measure.

This high calling means for the mother all that is best in womanhood. No other place is so important for her to fill. To no one else can her task be given.

“Do you do any literary work?” asked a neighbor of a mother.

“Yes,” she replied, “I’m writing two books.”

“What are their titles?”

“‘John’ and ‘Mary,’” she answered. “My business is to write upon the minds and hearts of my children the lessons they will never forget.”

No public or social duties may rightfully deprive children of their mother or rob her of her most sacred mission.

Does the mother see, as she looks into the tiny face of her infant, a hundred things nobody else sees? Does she wonder what baby will be, how he will look, when he is twenty?

When the child is only a month old, habits have begun to grip him. Soon he will learn the language the mother teaches him. It will not be long till he is in school; he will go to church and be taught as she chooses for him.

With a love that would fight for him, die for him, every true mother must feel it is a daring thing to assume the responsibility of giving life. Once we were all the age your baby is to-day. We were made into the character we now possess. Would we have had our mothers deal differently with us? What lessons may be learned from their experience with reference to fashioning this little life?

To be a mother is a vocation, not a pastime. To give love is not enough. The mother’s outlook must be widened, visioning what the child may become through wise training and the grace of God. She should bring spiritual insight to her task, joy in the child’s growth and development, and true, sympathetic companionship. She should hear the divine command, “Take this child away, and nurse it for Me, and I will give thee thy wages.”

THE MOTHERS’ CARES

A mother was lamenting because she could not afford a birthday party for her older daughter. She was interrupted by a younger child, who exclaimed: “Mother, Lottie Pritchard’s here. May we have a lump of sugar apiece in water, and a piece of bread cut in little squares, for our party?”

“And two pieces of gingerbread,” the mother added.

Marjory danced about the room, then flung her arms around mother’s neck, exclaiming, “It will be lovely! I think parties are the nicest things!”

Looking down from her window, mother saw the little table set with two odd saucers, one cracked cup, and one cup without a handle.

Marjory was stirring the sugar for Lottie’s “tea,” and her voice rose happily through the still air:

“I’m giving you the cracked cup ‘cause it looks nicer; but you’ll have to be careful. I can’t have any more to play with till Clara breaks one the right way. Usually she breaks them all to pieces, you know. She doesn’t remember about me. But mother says it isn’t dishes and things; it’s loving that counts, and this cup is very full of loving.”

Lottie took the cracked cup carefully. Her small face was full of delight. “That’s why I like your house,” she said. “It’s full of lovings.”

The home that is “full of lovings” will be the children’s paradise. It is the mother’s task to see that the loving spirit reigns, and to keep her own heart sunny and sweet.

PREPARATION FOR MOTHERHOOD

But mothers will be ready, as they face their tasks, to exclaim, “Who is sufficient for these things?” They will see that their life in the home means success or failure, life or death to those they love most. Surely a most careful preparation is needed for the exalted task of being a mother….

No mother can discipline a child properly until she disciplines herself. But here is the most difficult problem, for the Ethiopian cannot change his skin, nor the leopard his spots. We who are accustomed to do evil cannot, of ourselves, do good nor be good.

There is only one way of escape from our sinful nature. He who knows the mother’s desire to train her child aright says: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My
Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them.”

Here is a power that will give “new” purposes, that will cause the receiver to “walk” right, “keep” right, and “do” right. This power is within the reach of every mother, and may be had by asking and believing that “He is faithful that promised.”

Mother, give yourself to Christ, then you can lead your child to Him. Show that His power keeps you patient, loving, obedient, and almost unconsciously the child will follow your example….

THE HOME ATMOSPHERE

The mother creates in the home that indefinable thing we call atmosphere. It cannot be seen or handled, but it is plainly felt.

Enter one home and there seems a chill, a reserve, a stiffness in everything. One feels like leaving as soon as possible. In another there is a sense of cheer, of friendliness, of peace which draws and holds, that comforts and heartens all who enter. The rooms look different. The food is eaten with zest. One sleeps in a chamber of peace; leave-taking brings regret. The visit is repeated at the first opportunity.

A little girl heard her mother complain of the chilliness of the living room one autumn morning. The child was playing in the sunshine on the floor, but she looked up to say, “Mother, why don’t you get into the sun path?”

Good cheer creates a sunny atmosphere no matter how cloudy the day. A sweet temper is like a presiding angel in the home; bright faces are its sunshine. Gratitude for good things received, a happy way of bearing the crossing things, are some of the fruits borne by a heart at peace with God. Gloomy moods, tiresome nagging and complaining, drive children away from the haunted house where such evil spirits dwell.

One woman wrote to a mother who was in trouble and perplexity: “Don’t give up. Show your mettle. Don’t pity yourself. Put self in the background, and think of your children’s future. Keep your interest in life, and look on the bright side for the children’s sake. They will repay you a thousandfold when they grow older. Live not for the present, but for the future. Sing when putting the baby to sleep, and sing at your work.”

An excellent habit this, of singing while at work. It brings sunshine and peace to the house. Let the children join in. Some people begin to sing as soon as they awake in the morning. Their presence seems a benediction. Teach the children to sing, and sing with them. It comforts distresses, softens the rebellious heart; encourages, strengthens, and ennobles the life of the singer.

Mothers will do much to preserve the joy of home if they practice speaking in a low, gentle voice. If they command in harsh, uncontrolled tones, they will receive answers in the same pitch. There is no excuse for whining, shrill, high-pitched voices which strive to make themselves heard above all other sounds….

Often a wrong may be corrected by giving words of praise because a fault was not committed; thus the child is encouraged to win approval by doing the right.

A much better way to teach children good habits than be constantly scolding them, is to give them a little praise for every commendable act. Some mothers quite overlook the right things their children do. Praise the boy when he has taken a little extra trouble to make himself clean and tidy or to do anything well, instead of flying into a tantrum every time he is not up to the mark. Gradually he will look forward to that little word of praise and will make an effort to look and do his best to earn it.

“I am almost heartbroken over it,” a mother said to her minister.

“And what is it you are so grieved over?” he inquired.

“Well, it is about my little Jennie; what she said as I was putting her to bed last night.”

“It must have been something very bad.”

“Oh, no! nothing of the kind. Jennie is naughty sometimes, as most children are, and my way has been to scold and sometimes to punish her. Last night, after I had put her to bed, she said, ‘Mamma, have I been a good girl to-day?’ I replied, ‘Yes, Jennie, you have been a good girl to-day.’ A bullet could not have gone straighter to my heart. I had always been quick to reprove and to punish; but she had been trying hard to please me all day, and I had taken no notice of it. She had to ask for the commendation I should have been loving enough to give without her asking.”…

WHERE HE WENT FOR INSPIRATION

In the history of our country there have been three great orations, and they will be found in every collection of masterpieces of eloquence. The first was by Patrick Henry, at Williamstown; the second, by Abraham Lincoln, at Gettysburg; and the third, by Henry W. Grady, at New York.

Shortly before this oration was delivered, Mr. Grady spent nearly two weeks with his mother at his childhood home. He felt that he needed a new experience, that his hold on Christian faith was lessening.

“Mother,” he said as he took her in his great, strong arms and kissed her, “I have come home to spend a week all alone with you. This time I have not come merely to kiss you how-de-do and good-by and go again, but to stay with you a bit. I want to go back to the old days and be your boy again, and have you treat me as if I were a little fellow once more.”

The wise little mother asked no question of the big son upon whom his country has lavished honor and fame, but merely said, “All right, dear.”

“And I mean just what I say, mother,” persisted the son. “I want you to be my ‘mother dear,’ just as you used to be. I want you to make me the little cakes on the back of the stove just as you used to, and the turnovers in the oven. I want the dear old gingerbread horses with the raisin eyes. Cook me the eggs in the ashes, will you, mother?”

“I certainly will, my son,” gladly replied the mother, wondering much but asking nothing.

In the lazy afternoons, after a nap, he would throw himself down on the porch floor at his mother’s feet, and putting his head in her lap, where she could play with his hair and smooth his cheek, he would say: “Mother, tell me the old stories you used to tell me about Joseph and his coat, David and his sling, Daniel and the lions, Elijah and the chariot, Elisha and the bears, and all those.” And the mother told again the stories so dear to every child.

At other times he would go to the mantel and bring the “Bible Book,” and say: “Here, mother, read me again the sweet old story that you used to read about the little Baby that was born in a stable, the angels that sang, and the wise men who brought gifts and who followed a star; and how He grew to be a man and went about doing good and making the world better; and how men killed Him; and how He is now up in heaven, and wants your son to be a good boy.”

And the mother would.

When night came and he had gone up to bed, he would call to her, “Come, mother, and tuck me in, and hear me say my prayers.” And as in the days that had gone, he repeated, “Now I lay me down to sleep.” Then, “God bless mamma, and make me a good boy. Amen.”

Thus for nearly two weeks the famous son lived his boyhood days over again in the old home with his mother. And then he went back to his work.

Mr. Grady received his invitation to speak in New York when he returned to his office. Said the orator afterward:

“When I found myself upon my feet, every nerve was strung as tight as a fiddlestring, and all a-tingling. I knew then that God had given me a message for that assemblage. As soon as I opened my mouth, it came rushing forth.”

What induced Henry W. Grady to go back to his old home? – He felt he had lost Christ from his heart. He would renew his experience; would get back the trust and faith of his boyhood days. That was why he visited the dear old mother who taught him to pray, who could teach him again. He went back to his mother. He found his God. – Adapted from William H. Ridgeway.

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