Last night before I went to bed I picked up an old book we have by Kathleen Norris. It is simply titled :"Mother". I didn't have time to read it all over again so I just flipped to the last couple of chapters and started reading. I've read the book several times before, but it had been so long that I didn't remember it. I do have a terrible habit of not reading a book all the way through and just reading the last few chapters to see what happens. My friend Emily calls it cheating. :D But as I sat reading the last chapter of the book I started to cry... it was just so precious! I wondered: do we ever take the time just to think about our mothers? All that they have given up? All that they are? All that they've done for us through the years? All the love, the care, planning, and praying and working, the time they've spent raising us up to be godly women? What sacrifices did mama make? It caused me to think...and to be so very, very grateful for my own beautiful and wonderful mother!
Here is an excerpt from the book...it is a little lengthy, but so beautiful as the young woman begins to see, that out of all the traveled, wealthy and astounding women she has ever met her mother, humble and godly, outshines them all.
In just a few short days, she realized with vague wonder, her slowly formed theories had been set at naught; her whole philosophy turned upside down, and, at last, everything seemed right. Had these years of protest and rebellion done no more than to lead her in a wide circle, past empty gain and joyless mirth and the dead fruit of riches and idleness, back to her mother's knees again? She had met brilliant women, rich women, courted women-but where among them was one whose face had ever shone as her Mother's had shone today? The over dressed, idle dowagers; the matrons with their too-gay frocks, their too-full days, their too-rich food; the girls all crudeness, artifice, all scheming openly for their own advantage-where among them all was happiness? Where among them all was one who whom Margaret had heard say- as she had heard her mother say so many, many times -"Children, this is a happy day,"-"Thank God for a another lovely Sunday all together,"-"Isn't it lovely to get up and see the sun shining?"-Isn't delightful to come home hungry to such a nice dinner?
And what a share of happiness her mother had given the world! How she had planned and worked for them all-....She thought of all the Christmas mornings and the stuffed stockings at the fireplace that proved every childish wish remembered, every little hidden hope guessed! And how her face would beam as she sat at the breakfast table, enjoying her belated coffee, after the cold walk to church, and responding warmly to the onslaught of kisses and hugs that added fresh color to her cold, rosy cheeks! What a mother she was! ....."How happy we all were!" Margaret thought; "and how she worked for us! "
And suddenly theory and speculation ended, and she knew. She knew that faithful, self-forgetting service and the love that spends itself over and over, only to be renewed again and again, are the secret to happiness. For another world, perhaps leisure and beauty and luxury- but in this one, " Whosoever loses his life shall gain it." Margaret knew now that her Mother was not only the truest, the finest, the most generous woman she had ever known, but the happiest as well.
She thought of other women like her mother; she suddenly saw Mary Page, plodding home from the long day at the library desk to her little cottage and crippled sister at night, always made one feel the better and happier for meeting her.
Mrs. Carboldt's days were crowded to the last instant, it was true; but what an illusion it was, after all, Margaret said to herself in all honesty, to humor her little fancy that she was a busy woman! Milliner, manicure, butler, chef, club, card table, tea table, -these and a thousand things like them filled her day, and they might all be swept away in an hour and leave no one the worse for it! Suppose Mrs. Carboldt's own final summons came; there would be a little flurry throughout the great establishment, legal matters to settle, notes of thanks to be written for flowers. Margaret could imagine Victoria and Harriet, awed but otherwise unaffected, home from school in midweek, and to be sent back before the next Monday. Their lives would go on unchanged. Their mother had never buttered bread for them, never searched for their boots and hats, never watched their work and play and called them to her knees for praise and blame. Mr. Carboldt would have his club, his business, his yacht and motor cars-He was well accustomed to living in cheerful Independence of family claims.
But life without Mother! In a sick moment of revelation, Margaret saw it. She saw them gathering in the horrible emptiness and silence of the house Mother had kept so warm and bright. She saw her fathers stooping shoulders and trembling hands. She saw her sisters, red-eyed, white cheeked in fresh black-she seemed to hear the low toned voices that would break over and over again so cruelly into sobs. What could they do-who could take up the work she had laid down-who would watch and plan and work for them all now? Margaret thought of the empty place at the table, the room that after all these years, would no longer be "Mother's room".
Oh, no-no-no! She began to cry softly in the dark. How ungrateful she had been;how ugly and cross and unwilling to help.God willing they would hold Mother safe with them for many years. She would live to see some of the fruits of her long labor of love. She should know that with every fresh step in life, with every deepening experience, her children grew to love her better;turned to her more and more! There would come a day- Margaret thrilled to the thought-when little forms would run ahead of John and herself up the worn path, and when their children would be gathered into her mothers experienced arms! Did life hold a more exquisite moment, she wondered, than that in which she would hear her mother praise them? All her old castles in the air seemed cheap and tinseled tonight beside these tender dreams that had their roots in the real truths of life. Travel and position, gowns and motor cars and,yachts and country houses, these things were to be bought in all their perfection by the highest bidder, and always would be. But love and character and service, home and the wonderful charge of little lives-the "pure religion breathing household laws" that guided and perfected the whole-these were not to be bought;they were only to be prayed for, worked for and bravely won.
"God has been very merciful to me", Margaret said to herself seriously; and in the her own childish fashion she made some new resolves. If joy came she would share it as far as she could; if sorrow she would show her mother that she was not all unworthy of her. Tomorrow she would go to see her sister Julie. Dear sweet Ju, whose heart was so full of the the little Margaret! Margaret had a sudden tender memory of the days when Theodore and Duncan and Bob were all babies in turn. Her mother would gather the little daily supply of fresh clothes from the bureau and chest every morning and carry the little bathtub into the sunny nursery window and sit there with only a bobbing downy head and waving pink fingers visible from the great warm bundle of bath apron....Ju would be doing that now...
And she had sometimes wished, or half formed the wish, that she and Bruce had been the only ones! Yes, came the sudden thought, but it wouldn't have been Bruce and Margaret after all. It would have been Bruce and Charlie.
With a sickening thud of her heart, Margaret understood. That was what women did, then, when they denied the right to life of life to the distant, unwanted, possible little person! Calmly, constantly, in all placid philosophy and self justification, they kept from the world-not only the troublesome new baby, with his tears and his illness and his endless claim on mind and body and spirit-but perhaps the glowing beauty of a Rebbecca, the buoyant indomitable spirit of a small Robert, whose grip on life, whose energy and ambition were as strong as Margaret's own!
Margaret stirred uneasily and frowned in the dark. It seemed perfectly incredible, it seemed perfectly impossible that if Mother had had only two-and how many thousands of women didn't have that! - she, Margaret, a pronounced and separate entity, traveled and ambitious and to become the wife of one of the world's greatest men, might not have been lying here in the summers night.....
Her children arise and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her;"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting:but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands and let her own works praise her at the city gate.