by Jeanne Merrihew Lofgren
My aunt sent this newspaper clipping to me several years ago, and it has always been a humorous encouragement. I presume that it was written in the 1950s, and I sure would love to meet the lady who wrote it!
MOTHERHOOD, by Jeanne Merrihew Lofgren
“A Mother is a maker, a mender, a moderator, and a teacher.
She makes boxer pants and chocolate pudding, law and sometimes order, castles, threats, promises and rabbit suits. She makes horses’ heads from paper bags, little suits from big ones, new dresses from old ones, sunsuits from kitchen curtains, small balloons from popped ones, stew from nothing whatever. She makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and peace when possible.
A Mother is a maker and a mender.
A Mother mends broken dishes and broken hearts, trouser knees, hurt noses and hurt feelings, trouser knees, torn jackets and torn fingers, and trouser knees. She mends old sheets, old rosebushes, old baby dolls and brand new trouser knees.
A Mother is a maker, a mender and a moderator.
She is a moderator in times of war — civil war, verbal war, insurrection, minor skirmishes, attacks from the enemy; in times of strife, in times of injustice, in times of temper, in times of hairpulling.
A Mother is a maker, a mender, a moderator and teacher.
She teaches how to button buttons and how to say a prayer. She teaches how to hold a knife and fork, how to hang up clothes so they sometimes stay hung, how to sit still in church. She can teach a love of books and of music — she can even turn child hearts to God. But almost never can she teach how to close a door without a bang or how to come in without bringing in mud.
A Mother can count. She counts calories and blessings, pennies and children’s heads in the car. But she never counts sheep!
A Mother is immune to surprise — whether it is a glass of water in her desk drawer, a cat sleeping on fresh sheets in the linen cupboard, worms in trouser pockets, good report cards, bad report cards, split foreheads, split infinitives. Nothing ever really surprises her.
But sometimes a Mother reaches despair. The dryer won’t dry when all the clothes are washed and wet. The baby bites the cat’s tail and is scratched for it. Three-year-old dumps the tinker toys by the front door when you expect the minister to call. The baby screams for attention – soothing medications must be halted while Mother sprints to a relentless doorbell. There stand two neighborhood children to report, “Your baby is crying.” Six-year-old after forty-five minutes cannot spell “what”.
Eight-year-old dashes in to say he forgot, but it is his turn to take cookies to his meeting today. Fingerprints all over the house loom
suddenly vivid. The ragged edge of the rug seems suddenly dreadful. Three-year-old won’t go outside. The cat won’t come in. The gelatin won’t jell. The sun won’t shine. The stew sticks and the pudding boils over while the phone rings on and on and on. And with it and above it and through it all comes, “Mommy, come and see — Mommy, come and see”, incessently, monotonously, unendingly from three-year-old.
Mother leans chin on broomhandle and mutters, “Next time I’ll raise chickens, Lord. Children are just too much.”
Then ten-year-old crashes in — rough and ready, all boy — to confide, “Mommy, at Cub Scout meeting we had to list the five things most precious to us, and I did: One, God; two, love; three, America; four, babies; and five, sunsets.”
Suddenly the baby’s eyes seem very blue, six-year-old recites from memory the entire 23rd Psalm, which is better than spelling “what”, fingerprints retreat again. Daddy walks in. Really life could not be richer. It is a glory never to be bartered.
Dear Lord, keep the chickens. I’ll carry on for now. And thank you — from the bottom of my heart.”