I often marvel,” said a middle-aged man, “at the way my mother used to work out the kinks and knots in our young lives. She had such a faculty of lowering the pitch of our indignations and of placing before us in the true light all sides of our troubles. Instead of fanning the flames of our unjust and unbalanced estimates of the wrongs we thought we had suffered, she calmly judged the case and showed us where we were at fault. She showed us the unwise results of jumping at conclusions, and the wrong we did ourselves and others by forming unjust judgments of them. And I cannot remember that I ever heard her speak an unkind, uncharitable word of anyone. What a pity that we cannot see these wonderful characteristics in our young days, and that they are not revealed to us until so many of our mothers have passed away, and we cannot tell them how they influenced our lives for good?”
When my friend left me I found myself thinking of the wonderful influence of mothers. To the child what mother says and does is always right. Mother’s estimate of people and things is conclusive. What opinions she has must be right, for is not mother the wisest and best person in the whole world?
If the boy has a quarrel and comes home to tell her that his mate is the meanest boy in the world, that he has injured him and he hates him and will not speak to him again —“never as long as he lives”—the unwise mother will take her boy’s part; she will depreciate his mate in his hearing, and leave the impression on her son’s mind that he is perfectly justifiable in his denunciation of his former friend.
But the wise mother will listen calmly to her boy’s statement of the wrongs he thinks he has suffered, and then she will ask him what he did himself to bring about such a state of unpleasantness. She will not magnify the wrong, but make it as light as possible, and convince her boy that he was somewhat to blame himself, and that it “always takes two to make a quarrel, but one can always end it”—showing that a forgiving, forgetting spirit is the right one to be fostered, and that it is no sign of weakness, but strength, to go more than half way in the making up of quarrels and being good friends again.
Children often come in and tell some stories detrimental to their neighbors, which they have heard unwisely told over in some of their young companions’ homes. Oh, how much trouble and unjust prejudices have come from gossip of this kind spoken before children, who have not the discretion to keep it to themselves!
The wise mother never encourages such gossip. She deprecates it, and teaches her children that charity which makes the child and the man and the woman so Christlike all through life. If we mothers could only, as Madam Swetchine says, “employ heavenly forces to keep our balance amid earthly ones”!
Let us try to keep out of our own and our children’s hearts all bitterness and irritation and the words that have stings in them and hurt so cruelly. Let us be careful not to talk too much of the burdens of life, and estimate their weight in high figures—rather by patient bearing to show the strength that comes from the help given by the mother’s God, in whom she trusts and on whose arm she leans.
The true mother has no time or strength to give to the vanities of life. “Blessed is the memory of a good mother. It floats to us now like the beautiful perfume of some woodland blossom. The music of other voices may be lost, but the entrancing memory of hers will echo in our souls forever. Other faces will fade away and be forgotten, but hers will shine on until the light from heaven’s portals shall glorify our own. When in the fitful pauses of our busy life our feet wander back to the old homestead, and, crossing the well-worn threshold, we stand once more in the low, quaint room so hallowed by her presence, how the feeling of childish innocence and dependence comes over us as we kneel down in the evening hour just where we long years ago knelt at mother’s knee, lisping ‘Our Father’! How many times when the tempter lures us on, the memory of those sacred hours, that mother’s words, her faith and prayers, saved us from plunging into the abyss of sin! Years have piled great drifts between her and us, but they have not hidden from our sight the glory of her pure, unselfish love.” —Christian Work.
The Signs of the Times, November 12, 1894.