A Mother: "The strongest educator"
A mother's life should not be just a succession of diapers and her children's demands for her attention. There is a vital role for mothers of young children to fill—one that far outweighs routine duties. It is one of the most important roles there is.
In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy says, "A mother is the strongest educator, either for or against crime." Science and Health, p. 236; This role belongs not mainly to the schools, day care centers, government, probation officers, parole boards, but to mothers. Quite a thought, isn't it?
However, today's world has so downgraded the position of motherhood that for many it has connotations of limitation, restrictions, and unfulfilled, thwarted talents. Many today see women who are only full-time mothers as second-class citizens, as housewives bound to the home by demanding children and having no time or opportunity to pursue the development of their own talents.
Day care centers for children are sprouting up in countries all over the world, not just to help women who have to earn a living but to relieve women of their "burdens" of motherhood, so that they can be released for more "significant" pursuits. Doubtless many young mothers have unconsciously felt this pressure.
People are perplexed and concerned at the phenomenal rise in the world's crime. Many reasons are offered for this: two world wars and continued local warfare, television violence and sensationalism, drugs, declining religion, and so forth. But hasn't one important fact been disregarded? A decrease in the appreciation, recognition, and active practice of home training from the very earliest years has been matched with an increase in crime. Surely, then, to help check rising crime we need to start at the roots of the problem in the home.
Recent research into the early learning processes of babies indicate that at the age of only a few hours the baby is already thinking, solving problems, and absorbing the atmosphere of his surroundings. Over the next few weeks and months his growth is rapid, so much so that researchers say that by the time the child is four he has already entered upon thought and behavior patterns he will follow for life. This is a glimpse of the importance of mothers' care for little ones in these early years and of their role in helping them recognize their true, spiritual identity as God's perfect offspring.
Work with the Concordances to Mrs. Eddy's writings throws much light on the subject of effective motherhood. Mrs. Eddy's concept of motherhood as the direct expression of the motherhood of God is an expansive, inspiring ideal. The Science she founded considers the position of motherhood one of great importance and sets high challenges for those with this work. The Science of Christ, or Truth, shows that mothers (and, of course, fathers, as well), with the help of prayerful communion with God, can keep their children healthy and moral.
One of the greatest pitfalls of motherhood is a false sense of responsibility. It would make a woman feel she has personally created her children and therefore has personal responsibility to educate and care for her offspring and spiritualize their thought. This is tackling the situation from the wrong approach.
In reality, God is the only creator and preserver, and He keeps His expression forever perfect. In the study of Christian Science we learn that we need to realize the spiritual facts of harmonious being, and such realization determines the visible manifestation of harmony in our outward experience. This is the case with true motherhood. When we who are mothers work out the spiritual concept of motherhood as the reflection of the infinite, all-wise motherhood of divine Love, we find inspired, intuitive ways of caring for our children.
On pages 115 and 116 of Science and Health we have the "Scientific Translation of Mortal Mind." There are three degrees: physical, moral, and spiritual. The qualities listed in the second degree, the moral, are "humanity, honesty, affection, compassion, hope, faith, meekness, temperance." Surely these are qualities we are endeavoring to express as mothers. Many of us are rejecting the first degree qualities for ourselves and our children, denying reality and power to "evil beliefs, passions and appetites, fear, depraved will, self-justification, pride, envy, deceit, hatred, revenge, sin, sickness, disease, death."
But many of us in our thinking are only reaching out toward the third degree spiritual qualities of "wisdom, purity, spiritual understanding, spiritual power, love, health, holiness." Again, isn't this tackling the situation from the wrong level? Shouldn't we be working out from these spiritual qualities, not up to them? Let us express God's motherhood now, not later. Identifying our real being with the spiritual qualities of the third degree gives us a sure basis for bringing out the moral second degree qualities in full measure. This is applying practical, powerful Truth; this is bringing the Christ, the manifestation of God, to every aspect of our job as mothers.
Working from this standpoint of the spiritual, we are able to manifest unlaboredly all the wonderful things the true mother is and does. We can feel and comprehend the needs of our children; we can endure with patience, and labor with love, to promote their welfare and happiness. Identifying ourselves as the pure manifestation of God's motherhood, we are able to lovingly warn, gently entreat, and sternly rebuke when necessary. We are able to express tireless love to our children and feed them with Truth.
Adhering strictly to the spirit and letter of Science, we possess the wisdom to know when and how to teach them the truths of God-bestowed holiness and health. We take the practical steps of keeping their thinking pure by not allowing discussions about disease; we watch to see that their education, from the cradle up, is directed toward steady moral and spiritual growth.
Let us endeavor to make this Bible instruction practical in our family life: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." Deut. 6:4–7; This does not mean that we should overfeed our children with talk about God, but they should have a healthy diet of deep awareness and appreciation of God's goodness, power, and presence.
It has been wisely said that a mother is not a person to lean on but a person who makes leaning unnecessary. Gently, patiently, and persistently guiding the little ones in our care to lean on God for all their needs, we can imbue their thought with the ever-present guidance and government of their Father-Mother God.
Seeing our job as mothers in this light brings us freshness, creativity, fulfillment, and the uncovering of hidden talents. Let us waken every morning with an expectancy of new ideas, new ways of doing things, as we express growing understanding of God.
Mrs. Eddy says, "The true mother never willingly neglects her children in their early and sacred hours, consigning them to the care of nurse or stranger." Retrospection and Introspection, p. 90. Some mothers of young children may have to work full time for financial reasons. And there may, of course, be other cases where the care of young children by someone other than their mother is legitimate and justified. But we need to be honest with ourselves and watch that we are not needlessly depriving them and ourselves of a unique opportunity for spiritual growth.
True motherhood, reflecting the qualities of divine Love, is one of the most important, progressive, and rewarding jobs in helping our world to be a better place. As we joyously undertake this work, we are aiding in eliminating crime and in improving the health and morals of the next generation.
Let us not be fooled into believing that motherhood is a stagnant, limited activity or that we must wait for some future time before we can be of significant service to mankind. Right now those who glimpse the infinite potential of strong, inspired motherhood have a vital role to fill in blessing the world.