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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

On the Mother’s Difficulties

Jabez Burns

From Mothers of the Wise and Good, 1860

It not unfrequently happens that a judicious and faithful mother is connected with a husband whose principles and example are anything but what she could desire. In such cases, not only does the whole government of the family devolve upon the mother, but the influence of the father is such, as, in a great degree, to counteract all her exertions. This is indeed a trying situation. It is, however, far from being a hopeless one. You must not give up in despair, but let the emergencies of the case rouse you to more constant watchfulness, and more persevering and vigorous effort.

If a wife be judicious and consistent in her exertion, a father, in almost all cases, will soon find confidence in the management of the family, and will very gladly allow her to bear all the burden of taking care of the children. Such a father is almost necessarily much of the time absent from home; and when at home, is not often in a mood to enjoy the society of his family.

Let such a mother teach her children to be quiet and still when their father is present. Let her make every effort to accustom them to habits of industry. And let her do everything in her power to induce them to be respectful and affectionate to their father. This course is, indeed, the best which can be adopted to reclaim the unhappy parent. The more cheerful you can make home to him, the stronger are the inducements which are presented to draw him away from scenes into which be ought not to enter.

It is true, there is no situation more difficult than the one we are now describing. But that even these difficulties are not insurmountable, facts have not unfrequently proved. Many cases occur in which the mother triumphantly surmounts them all, and rears up a virtuous and happy family. Her husband is most brutally intemperate; and I need not here depict the scenes through which such a mother is called to pass. She sees, however, that the welfare of the family is dependent upon her, and accordingly nerves her heart resolutely to meet her responsibilities. She commences in the earliest infancy of her children, teaching them implicit obedience. She binds them to her with those ties from which they would never be able or desirous to break. The most abundant success rewards her efforts.

The older her children grow, the more respectful and attentive they become, for the more clearly they see that they are indebted to their mother for salvation from their father's disgrace and woe. Every sorrow of such a mother is alleviated by the sympathy and affection of her sons. She looks around upon them with feelings of maternal gratification, which no language can describe. They feel the worth and dignity of her character. Though her situation in life may be humble, and though her mind may not be stored with knowl-edge, yet her moral worth, and her judicious government, command their reverence.

In a family of this sort, in one of the States of America, one cold December night, the mother was sitting alone by the fire, between the hours of nine and ten, waiting for the return of her absent husband. Her sons, fatigued with the labors of the day, had all retired to rest. A little before ten, her husband came in from the neighboring store, where he had passed the evening with his degraded associates. He insisted in calling up the boys at that unreasonable hour, to send them into the wood-lot for a load of wood. Though there was an ample supply of fuel at the house, he would not listen to reason, but stamped and swore that the boys should go.

The mother, finding it utterly in vain to oppose his wishes, called her sons, and told them that their father insisted upon their going with the team to the wood-lot. She spoke to them fondly; told them she was sorry they must go; but, said she, Remember that he is your father? Her sons were full-grown young men. But at their mother's voice, they immediately arose, and without a murmur, brought out the oxen and went to the woods. They had perfect confidence in her judgment and her management.

While they were absent, their mother was busy in preparing an inviting supper for them on their return. The drunken father soon retired. About midnight, the sons finished their tasks, and entering the house, found their mother ready to receive them with cheerfulness and smiles. A bright fire was blazing upon the hearth. The room was warm and pleasant. With keen appetites and that cheerfulness of spirits which generally accompanies the performance of duty, those children sat down with their much-loved parent to the repast she had provided, and soon after, all were reposing in the quietude of sleep.

Many a mother has been the guardian and saviour of her family. She has brought up her sons to industry, and her daughters to virtue. And in her old age, she has reaped a rich reward for all her toil, in the affections and attentions of her grateful children. She has struggled in tears and discouragement for many weary years, till at last God has dispelled all the gloom, and filled her heart with joy in witnessing the blessed results of her fidelity. Be not, therefore, desponding. That which has once been done may be done again.