Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Mother and Variety

The Mother and Variety

Perhaps the mother is especially tempted to overlook the benefits of variety, of change in her program and life, since her duties seem almost to force her into a fixed routine; but the value of variation of activities is so great that it is advisable that she make every effort to break through habit and give change a place in her daily life. Health of body, mind, and spirit demands a reasonable amount of variety.
Many mothers may say they already realize fully the need of a vacation, of a long rest, a prolonged visit somewhere, a trip to the seashore or mountains, but that these are out of the question. These matters being obvious, we refer here to smaller variations of routine and the ones that are ordinarily practicable. Moreover, except when one is really worn out, it is not the great and prolonged change that does one most good; it is rather the little changes sprinkled through the days, the minor diversions, that recuperate one. There is usually no need that one should work without break through many hours; the sewing, for instance, can be dropped half a dozen times during the day for five minutes’ diversion in the garden among the flowers. The change of position, the breath of fresh air, the glimpse of flowers, grass and sky act as a tonic. Two or three minutes taken every now and then to glance at a book, kept open and ready, will divert the thoughts. There should be moments of this or like kind scattered through the day. The recuperative power of these brief relaxations is much more considerable than we realize until we have tried.
The introducing of variety includes also changing directions of effort. If the mother will arrange her tasks in such a way that she can carry several things along at once, changing from one to another every hour or so, this helps. Writers commonly keep on hand several themes or books at the same time. When the mind seems to have exhausted its interest in one, it may work easily if another is taken up. Painters do the same thing—keep at work on several pictures at once. The mother who cultivates the habit of working awhile on this and then on that will do both tasks more easily and with less wear and tear.
Changing the directions of daily walks; rearranging the decorations and furniture of rooms, dressing a little differently from day to day, if only in the matter of ribbons, changing the shoes in the later part of the day—these and a hundred little matters give slight variations that please the mind, ease the body, divert, break up monotony, and aid in producing and maintaining interest and so health. Some people have a pleasant genius in such directions, but all others can cultivate the habit of variety. It is well worthwhile; it eases the strain and adds to happiness. _Mother’s Magazine, December 1908

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Patience With Ideals

Patience with Ideals

By Helen A. Hawley

There is hardly a lesson which a wife and mother more needs to learn than to have patience with her ideals. The learning of this lesson will do as much as any one thing to smooth out the roughnesses of daily living. Someone has spoken of our ideals as tyrants. They may be tyrants, or they may be encouragers.
The young woman who marries has, as a rule, idealized her husband, and if she finds out soon that he is of common clay like the rest of the world, there comes a day when her happiness is in peril. Very few women can say what a wife once said to me. It was this: “I never have seen any faults in my husband which I did not see as plainly before I married him, and I have discovered many good qualities in him which I never knew before.” But she was a woman of remarkably clear brain and insight. It takes a patient love in a wife to sift the perfect from the imperfect in her husband’s make-up, if, indeed, there is any perfection yet to be found there, and to acknowledge the fact that, though he has not reached her ideal, he is surely on the road to it. It will be, also, a wholesome thought that perhaps she herself has not come up to his ideal, and thus the common sense, mutual forbearance, is attainable.
Doubtless the next disappointment is in her own housekeeping. She was to be the ideal housekeeper-no disorder, no dust, no anything which was not irreproachable. But her inexperience meets many failures, her two hands cannot do everything, she does not yet know “the fine art of slighting;” probably she thinks that would be a sin. Thus worry comes, and then irritability, and then a discontent which spreads to others. Here, again, there must be patience with the ideals, and the consciousness that they are not to be reached with a bound.
Perhaps the greatest disappointment comes when the wife and homemaker has her brood of children about her. Of course, they are to be ideal children, obedient, truthful, unselfish, not quarrelsome. And then, after all her instructions in truthfulness, Tommy tells a lie, Marion is greedily selfish, she finds the two boys fighting, and so on. It really seems as if her ideals has gone to smash, and it wouldn’t pay to gather up the fragments. A mother of a large family, who had given her children most careful training, once said to me, “It is discouraging to see that my children are no better than Louise,” mentioning a girl who was coming up in a rather hit-or-miss style. That mother was tempted to think that her careful training did not count; but it did count, as the after years plainly showed. There was, later on, a marked difference between her daughters and the girl who had been carelessly reared. To a mother who feels impatient over this failure to measure up to her ideals, there comes this wise word from a wise man: “How can a mother expect her children to be perfect, when she recalls her own childhood?” There is the encouragement, in a nutshell. As a child, she had her own little tempers, her small rebellions, her crossnesses, perhaps her fibbing; she can recall them distinctly, yet she has grown out of these disagreeable traits into a self-controlled, truthful woman. Why not believe that with proper, prayerful care, her children will do the same?
The road to ideals certainly does wind up hill all the way, but the ascent must be patient, gradual, one step at a time. Taken in this fashion, it becomes, not laborious, but exhilarating, by reasons of successive attainments.

-Mother's Magazine, December 1908