Many of us take better care of our cars than we do our mothers, and yet we expect our cars to last only five to six years and we expect our mothers to last for a lifetime.
Maybe we need a maintenance manual for mothers so that we might know how to take care of them at least as well as we do our automobiles.
The following are some of the items that might be included in such a manual:
ENGINE: A mother’s engine is one of the most dependable kinds you can find. She can reach top speeds from a prone position at a single cry from a sleeping child. But regular breaks are needed to keep up that peak performance. Mothers need a hot bath and a nap every hundred miles, a baby-sitter and a night-out every one thousand miles, and a live in baby-sitter with a one week’s vacation every ten thousand miles.
BATTERY: Mother’s batteries should be recharged regularly. Handmade items, notes, unexpected hugs and kisses, and a frequent “I love you” will serve very nicely this function.
CARBURETOR: When a mother’s carburetor floods it should be treated immediately with Kleenex and a soft shoulder.
BRAKES: See to it that she uses her brakes to slow down often and come to a full stop occasionally.
FUEL: Most mothers run indefinitely on coffee, leftovers and salads, but an occasional dinner or two at a nice restaurant would add to her general efficiency.
CHASSIS: Mothers function best when their bodies are properly maintained. Regular exercise should be encouraged and provided as necessary. A change in hair-do or makeup in spring and fall are also helpful. If you notice the chassis beginning to sag, immediately start a program of walking, jogging, swimming, or bike riding. These are the most effective when done with fathers.
TUNE-UPS: Mothers need regular tune ups. Compliments are both the cheapest and most effective way to keep a mother purring contentedly.
If these instructions are followed, the average mother should last a lifetime and give good and constant service to those who need her most.
-William E. Keller
Before you consider Women’s Lib, remember that it takes more brains, personal character, physical vitality, and more real worthwhile human nature to be a mother than to be anything else in this world.
The memory of my mother and her teachings were the only capital I had to start life on, and on that capital I have made my way. -ANDREW JACKSON
The God to whom little boys say their prayers has a face much like their mothers.
–JAMES M. BARRIE
A NEW TITLE FOR MOTHERS
A woman named Emily was renewing her driver’s license at the County Clerk’s office. She was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation. She hesitated momentarily, uncertain how to classify herself. The recorder reworded her request, “What I mean is, do you have a job, or are you just a ———–?”
“Of course I have a job,” snapped Emily. “I am a mother.”
“We don’t list ‘mother’ as an occupation,” the recorder said emphatically. “’Housewife’ is the appropriate designation we use.”
I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation, this time in our own Town Hall. The clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient, and possessed of a high-sounding title like, “Official Interrogator” or “Town Registrar.”
“What is your occupation,” she probed?
What made me say it, I do not know. The words simply popped out. “I am a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations.”
The clerk paused, her ballpoint frozen in mid-air, and looked as though she had not heard right. I repeated the title slowly, emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared in wonder as my pronouncement was written in bold black ink on the official questionnaire.
“Might I ask,” said the clerk with new interest, “just what you do in your field?” Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, “I have a continuing program of research; in the laboratory and in the field. I am working for my Masters, and already have four credits, (all daughters). Of course the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, (any mother care to disagree?) And I often work fourteen hours a day. The job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers. But the rewards of personal satisfaction more than compensate for the long hours and somewhat less than normal pay scale.”
There was an increased nod of respect in the clerk’s voice as she completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.
As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants—ages 13, 7, and 3. Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model (6-month old baby), in the child-development program, testing out a new vocal pattern.
I felt triumphant! I had scored a beat on bureaucracy. And I had gone on official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than “just another mother.”
Motherhood…what a glorious career—especially when there’s a title on the door! Does this make grandmothers “Senior Research Associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations” and great grandmothers, “Executive Senior Research Associates”? I think so! I think it also makes Aunts “Associate Research Assistants.”
I. O. U.
You know, most people look through their wallets or their pocketbooks and way down at the bottom, past the credit cards, baby pictures and green stamps…you usually find a little old dog-eared piece of poetry. I was cleaning out my wallet the other day and I ran across a whole bunch of I.O.U.’s, some of them thirty years overdue. Funny thing is that all of these I. O. U.’ s are owed to one person, and I kinda feel like right now might be a pretty good time for an accounting.
Mom, are you listening?
Mom, I owe you for so many things…a lot of services. Like night watchman, for instance! For lying awake at nights listening for coughs, cries, creaking floor boards and me coming in too late. You had the eye of an eagle, the roar of a lion…but you always had a heart as big as a house. I owe you for services as a short order cook, chef, and baker—for making sirloin out of hamburger, turkey out of tuna fish, and two big strapping boys out of leftovers.
I owe you for cleaning services, for the daily scrubbing of face and ears…all work done by hand. And for the frequent dusting of a small boy’s pants to make sure he led a spotless life. And for washing and ironing no laundry could ever do. And for the drying up of the tears of childhood, and for ironing out the problems of growing up!
I owe you for service as a bodyguard, for protecting me from the terrors of thunderstorms and nightmares and too many green apples.
And Lord knows I owe you for medical attention. For nursing me through measles, mumps, bruises, bumps, splinters and spring fever. And let’s not forget medical advice either. Oh no; important things like “don’t scratch it or it won’t get well,” “if you cross your eyes they’re going to stick like that. And, probably, the most important of all was, “be sure you got on clean under-wear, boy, in case you’re in an accident.”
And I owe you for veterinarian services, for feeding every lost dog that I had dragged home at the end of a rope, and for healing the pains of puppy love.
And I owe you for entertainment. Entertainment that kept a household going during some pretty rough times! For wonderful productions at Christmas, 4th of July of and birthdays! And for making make believe come true on a very limited budget.
I owe you for construction work. For building kites, confidence, hopes and dreams! And somehow you made ‘em all touch the sky. And for cementing a family together so it would stand the worst kind of shocks and blows, and for laying down a good strong foundation to build a life on.
I owe you for carrying charges. For carrying me on your books for the necessities of life that a growing boy’s just gotta have…things like a pair of high top boots with a little pocket on the side for a jack knife. And one thing, Mom, I will never forget. When there were only two pieces of apple pie left and three hungry people; I noticed that you were the one who suddenly decided that you really didn’t like apple pie in the first place.
These are just a few of the things for which payment is long overdue. The person I owe ‘em to worked very cheap. She managed by simply doing without a whole lot of things that she needed herself. My I. O. U.‘s add up to much more than I could ever hope to repay. But you know the nicest thing about it all is that she’ll mark the entire bill paid in full for just one kiss and four little words…”Mom, I love you!”
-Jimmy Dean & Larry Marks
ROBBY AND THE PIANO
Robby was eleven years old when his mother, a single mom, dropped him off for his first piano lesson. I prefer that students [especially boys], start at an earlier age, which I explained to Robby. But Robby said that it had always been his mother’s wish to hear him play the piano. So I took him on as a student.
Well, Robby began his piano lessons and from the beginning I thought that it was a lost endeavor. As much as Robby tried, he lacked the sense of tone and basic rhythm needed to excel. He dutifully reviewed his scales and some elementary pieces that I make all of my students learn. Over the months he tried and tried while I listened and cringed, trying to encourage him.
At the end of each weekly lesson he would always say, “My mom is going to hear me play some day.” But it seemed hopeless. He just did not have any inborn ability. I only knew his mother from a distance as she dropped him off or waited in her aged car to pick him up. She always waved and smiled, but never dropped in.
Then one day Robby stopped coming to lessons. I thought about calling him, but I assumed that because of his lack of ability he had decided to pursue something else. Also I was glad that he stopped coming—he was a bad advertisement for my teaching!
Sometime later I mailed a flyer on the upcoming recital to each of the student’s homes. Much to my surprise, Robby, who had received a flyer, asked me if he could be in the recital. I told him that the recital was for current students, and because he had dropped out, he really did not qualify. He said that his mom had been sick and unable to take him to the lessons, but he had still been practicing. “Miss Hondorf…I’ve just got to play!” I don’t know what it was that led me to allow him to play in the recital. Maybe it was his persistence, or maybe it was something deep down inside of me saying that it would be alright.
The night for the recital came. The high school gymnasium was packed with parents, friends and relatives. I put Robby last in the program before I was to get up and thank all of the students and play a finishing piece. I thought that any damage he would do would come at the end of the program and I could always salvage his poor performance through my “curtain closer.”
Well, the recital went off without a hitch. The students had been practicing and it showed. Then Robby came on stage. His clothes were wrinkled and his hair looked like he had run an eggbeater through it. I thought to myself, “Why didn’t he dress up like the other students? Why didn’t his mother at least make him comb his hair on this special night?”
Robby pulled out the piano bench and sat down. I was surprised when he announced that he had chosen Mozart’s Concerto # 21 in C Major. I was not prepared for what happened next. His fingers were light on the keys, they even danced nimbly on the ivories. He went from pianissimo to fortissimo…from allegro to virtuoso. His suspended chords that Mozart demands were magnificent. Never had I heard Mozart played so well by a person his age.
After six and a half minutes he ended in a grand crescendo and everyone was on their feet in wild applause. Overcome and in tears I ran up on stage and put my arms around Robby in joy. “I’ve never heard you play like that, Robby! How did you do it. Through the microphone Robby explained, “Well, Miss Hondorf…remember I told you that my mother was sick? She had cancer and passed away this morning. She was born deaf. So tonight was the first time she ever hear me play. I wanted to make it special.”
There was not a dry eye in the house that evening as the people from social services led Robby from the stage to be placed in foster care. I noticed that even their eyes were red and puffy. I thought to myself how much richer my life had been for taking Robby as my pupil, for he taught me the meaning of love, perseverance, and believing in oneself. No, I have never had a protégé, but that night I became a protégé of Robby’s.
This is especially meaningful to me since after serving in Desert Storm, Robby was killed in the senseless bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April of 1995—where he was reportedly playing the piano!
My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All that I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.
THE MEANEST MOTHER
I had the meanest mother in this whole world. While other kids ate candy for breakfast, I had to have cereal, eggs, or toast. When others had cokes and candy for lunch; I had to have a sandwich and soup.
My mother insisted on knowing where we were going at all times. You would think that we were on a chain gang. She had to know who our friends were and what we were doing. I am nearly ashamed to admit it, but she actually struck us…can you imagine a mother actually hitting a child because the child disobeyed.
My mother actually had the nerve to break the child labor law. She made us work. We had to do the dishes, make beds, learn to cook, and all sorts of cruel things.
Our mother always insisted on our telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; even if it killed us—and sometimes it nearly did.
By the time we became teenagers our lives became even more unbearable. None of this tooting the horn for us to come running. She embarrassed us to no end by making our dates and our friends come to the door to get us. If I spent the night with a girlfriend; she checked on me to see if I was actually there. While my friends were dating at the mature age of twelve or thirteen; my old-fashioned mother refused to let me date until I was fifteen or sixteen.
We could not lie in bed sick like our friends did and miss school. Our marks in school had to be up to par. Our friends’ report cards had beautiful colors on them—black for passing and red for failing. My mother would settle for nothing but those ugly black marks.
We were graduated from high school. With our mother behind us, talking, hitting, and demanding respect. None of us was allowed the pleasure of being a dropout. Two of us attained some higher education.
None of us have ever been arrested, divorced, or beaten by her mate. Each of my brothers served time in the service of our country. And whom do we have to blame for this terrible way that we turned out? You are right…our mean mother. Look at all the things we missed. We never got to march in a protest parade, or to take part in a riot; burn draft cards, and a million other things that our friends did. She forced us to grow up into honest, God-fearing, educated adults…
I am filled with pride when my children call me mean…because you see, I thank God that He gave us the meanest mother in the whole wild world.
REMEMBER THEM TODAY
The man stopped at a flower shop to order some flowers to be wired to his mother who lived two hundred miles away. As soon as he got out of his car he noticed a young girl sitting on the nearby curb, sobbing. He approached her to ask what was wrong. It seems that she had wanted to buy her mother a rose, but only had seventy-five cents—a dollar and a quarter less than what she needed. The kindly man bade her to follow him on into the shop, whereupon he bought her a rose for her mother, simultaneously placing his order with the florist.
Outside the shop he offered to give her a ride. She responded that she would like that if he would but take her to where her mother was. And then she directed him to a cemetery where she placed the flower on a newly dug grave.
Minutes later the man returned to the flower shop and cancelled his order, picked up the flowers, and drove the two hundred miles to where she lived.
-The Friendly Guest
A LETTER FROM YOUR DAUGHTER
A mother entered her teenage daughter’s bedroom, and saw a letter on the bed addressed to her. Fearing the worst, she picked up the letter and read:
“Mom, it is with great sadness and regret that I am telling you that I eloped with my new boyfriend. I found real passion, and Duke is so nice with all of his piercings and tattoos; not to mention his big loud motorcycle.
But it’s not only that, mom. I’m pregnant and Duke said we will be very happy in his shack in the woods. He wants to have many more children with me…and that’s one of my dreams, too. He taught me that marijuana doesn’t hurt anyone, and we will be growing it for us and his friends, who are providing us with the heroin and cocaine we want.
Don’t worry, mom. I’m fifteen years old now, and I know how to take care of myself. Someday I’ll visit you so that you can get to know your grandchildren. Love, your daughter Kelli!
P. S. Mom, none of this is true. I’m at the neighbor’s house. I just wanted to show you that there are worse things in life than my report card from school—which you’ll find on my dresser. I love you!
Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be President, but they don’t want him to become a politician in the process. -JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY
The commonest fallacy among women is that simply having children makes one a mother—which is as absurd as believing that having a piano makes a person a pianist. –SYDNEY HARRIS
I think that somewhere it must be written that the virtues of mothers shall be visited on their children as well as the sins of their fathers. -CHARLES DICKENS
To a mother a son is never a fully grown man, and a son is never a fully grown man until he understands that about his mother. -SYDNEY HARRIS
COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED IN OUR CHURCH?
I saw him in the church building for the first time on Monday. He was in his Mid-70’s with thinning silver hair and a neat brown suit.
Many times in the past I had invited him to come to church. Several other Christian friends had talked to him about the Lord, and had tried to share the good news with him. He was a well-respected man with so many of the characteristics a Christian should have, but he never entered the doors of the church.
A number of years ago I had an occasion to have an extended conversation with him. “Have you ever been to a church service in your life,” I asked him? He hesitated. Then with a bitter smile, he told me of his childhood experience. He was one of many children in an impoverished family. His parents daily struggled just to provide food, along with housing and a little clothing.
When he was about ten, some neighbors invited him to worship with them. The Sunday School class had been very exciting. He had never heard such songs and stories before. He had never heard anyone read from the Bible.
After class was over, the teacher took him aside and said, “Son, please do not come again dressed as you are now. We are to look our best when we come into God’s house.”
He stood there in his ragged, patched overalls. Then looking at his dirty, bare feet, he answered, softly, “No Ma’am, I won’t—EVER!
And I never did,” he said, abruptly ending our conversation.”
There must have been other factors that hardened him so, but this experience formed a significant part of the bitterness in his heart. I am sure that the Sunday School teacher meant well. But did she really understand the love of Christ? Had she studied and accepted the teachings found in the 2nd chapter of James? What if she had instead put her arms around that dirty, ragged little boy and said, “Son, I am so glad you are here, and I hope you will come back every chance you get to hear more about Jesus?”
I reflected on the awesome responsibility a preacher or a teacher has to welcome all in HIS name, no matter how they are dressed. How far reaching his or her influence is!
I prayed that I might ever be open to the tenderness of a child’s heart, and that I might never fail to see beyond the appearance and behavior of a child to the eternal possibilities that lie within.
Yes, I saw him in the church house this Monday…immaculately dressed—but he won’t be back. As I looked at him lying there in the coffin, I thought of that little boy so long ago. I could almost hear those words ringing in my ears…“No Ma’am, I won’t EVER!”
CHURCH STAFF JOB DESCRIPTIONS
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound,
More powerful than a locomotive,
Faster than a speeding bullet,
Walks on water,
Makes policy with God!
MINISTER OF EDUCATION:
Able to leap short buildings in a single bound,
As powerful as a switch engine,
Just as fast as a speeding bullet,
Walks on water if the sea is calm,
Talks with God!
MINISTER OF MUSIC:
Leaps short buildings with a running start,
Almost as powerful as a switch engine,
Faster than a speeding BB,
Walks on water—if he knows where the stumps are.
Is occasionally addressed by God!
MINISTER OF YOUTH:
Runs into small buildings,
Recognizes locomotives 2 out of three times,
Uses a squirt gun,
Knows how to use the water fountain,
Mumbles to himself!
Lifts buildings to walk under them,
Kicks locomotives off the track,
Catches speeding bullets in her teeth,
Freezes water with a single glance,
When God speaks she says, “May I ask who is calling?”
MEMORIAL DAY: HOW IT STARTED
Memorial Day, as we know it, actually started on an April morning in 1863. The place was Columbus Mississippi. A group of women came to the cemetery to decorate the graves of their dead soldiers. The Civil War was still raging. This increased their sadness as they put flowers on the graves of loved ones they had lost.
An elderly woman finished decorating the graves of her two sons and then walked toward two mounds at the corner of the cemetery. Another woman spoke up, “What are you doing? These are the graves of two Union soldiers.” “I know,” replied the elderly woman as she spread flowers on the graves. “I also know that somewhere in the North a mother or a young wife mourns for them as we mourn for ours.” Then she faced the other women and said, “They are our dead, our heroes of the South; and they too are dead—these unknown soldiers of the North. All of them are lying here in our church yard. When the war is over and peace comes, we shall call all of them heroes. We want someone to do this elsewhere for our loved ones who lie in unmarked graves. We need to do it here for those who lie in our cemetery.”
Four years later the story appeared in the New York Tribune. Following that, it was printed in papers across the country. It was accepted as the beginning effort to replace hatred with love.
It was another year before General Logan, National Commander of the Grand army of the Republic issued an order designating the 30th of May, 1868 as a day to decorate the graves of all who had fallen in the war.
146 years have passed since then. Decoration Day has become Memorial Day, and the annual observance has been moved from May 30th to the last Monday in May. It is important that we not forget what price has been paid for our freedom. Let us not forget to remember those who gave their all in order that we retain the rights and freedoms we so dearly cherish. And God, help us that we may do one more thing. Let us do all that’s within our power to help the world to find and accept the Prince of Peace that additional conflicts will cease.