"Few women seriously consider the comparative importance of housekeeping and child training. Rightly considered, of course, there should be no antagonism between these two things. The house should be kept, and well-kept, for the sake of the children. But too often the house is planned with little or no regard to the children, and then the fate which overtakes most of the institutions of man overtakes the home. It becomes an end in itself, an idol of wood and stone, china and linen, in the worship of which many a woman yields up not only her first-born child, but all her children.
Many a woman who would be ashamed to feed her family on baker's bread is content to leave the education of her children to the teacher, their health to the doctor, their religious and moral training to the Sunday-school, and their daily care to the nurse. Not that any one of them deliberately plans this division of labor, but she puts the house first, and then finds that she has little or no time or strength left over for the children.
Marion Harland tells an instructive story of a country woman with whom she was boarding one summer. She was a capable, energetic woman, doing all her own work, and having several children to care for. One morning the two-year-old baby was sitting on the doorstep beneath Marion's windows, and she, listening, heard the following speech from the busy mother. She swooped down upon the baby, caught her up in her arms, kissed her hungrily, and cried out:
'Mother's going to have one or two kisses, whatever happens!'
Marion, full of sympathy, wondered what stirring duty it was that kept the mother so far from her baby that she had to snatch up her chance for a kiss. She took the trouble to investigate, and discovered that it was lemon pies!
Now, of course, that woman had many really important duties. Some of them could not under any circumstances have been shirked. But the lemon pies could have been. Even with summer boarders, she could have served a simple fruit dessert and have had at least a half hour extra to spend with her children.
In our own houses it is not really the important and necessary things which keep us from giving the attentnion to our children which is demanded by their welfare and our own sense of duty. It is the luxuries.
It is the attempt to keep up with certain elegancies and refinements and daintiness--all of them very dear to the housewifely soul--which prevents us from being as good mothers as we are housewives. The start is made with our bridal finery. Our new home has in it so many beautiful pieces of furniture, so many gifts from friends which we feel we must treasure and make the most of, that we insensibly form the habit of being "careful about many things" before the first baby comes; and, as we have to work harder and harder with the coming of each of new child to protect these niceties, our carefulness becomes almost an obsession. Then it is that we get "house on the brain," that modern disease which drives so many women into sanitariums, and makes so many children half-orphaned during the greatest part of their existence. It is an easy disease to contract--as easy as taking cold--and it is hard to cure, because we have grown to love every sympton of it, and each effort to free us from our bondage causes us pain.
To sum up, it is better to keep your own soul clean than the parlor carpet. It is better to forego fresh curtains or have them "half done up," and give the baby his outing and cuddle. It is better to put out your washing, even though the clothes are ruined, and give a little unviviated attention to the children.
The fact is, our lives are taken up with so many things that there is little room in them for the life-spirit, and no woman is a true mother who allows the care of these material objects to crowd out the higher spiritual activities which make her truly a mother."
Very thought-provoking, isn't it? Nowadays, I think a mother's job, or keeping up with the Joneses could be substituted for housekeeping, don't you?
May you have a blessed Sabbath