Word Magazine May 1967 Page 13
THE IDEAL MOTHER
By Very Rev. Father Michael Baroudy, Pastor Emeritus
St. George’s Orthodox Church, Vicksburg, Mississippi
Annually on the second Sunday in May Mother’s Day is observed on a national scale. The setting apart of a day once a year to honor mother and motherhood is a very worthy undertaking.
Everyone is a mother’s son or daughter; and mother perhaps, unless she shirks her responsibility, has more to do with shaping our characters than any other person. Hers is not an easy task, for when God invested her with motherhood, He entrusted to her keeping and supervision the holiest privilege of all, that of giving nourishment to the souls as well as the bodies of her children, implanting in them the knowledge of God and the respect for the rights of others. Therefore, the kind of influence mothers exert upon their offspring is not to be regarded lightly, for it not only concerns the welfare of their particular children, but it will go a long way in shaping the character of the nation as a whole, involving the world’s three greatest institutions the home, the church and the schools. How well — or ill-prepared our children are to face the outside world will be largely determined by the kind of influence parents exert on their children.
When we take a long, discerning look into the kind of world in which we live and try to appraise it rightly from the standpoint of moral strength and standards, we have every reason to be alarmed. The decline of morals and the present-day trends are frightening. Just how far have we gone in that direction, and whether there will be an upward surge toward the high moral ideals which make people strong in soul as well as body, no one can predict with any degree of certainty. It all depends on our attitude toward such a matter of supreme worth to our well-being and that of all people.
I am aware of the fact that I am writing, not only to those who are already mothers, but also to those girls who would be mothers, for every girl is a potential mother. Your preparedness for motherhood’s duties should begin long before the days of courtship, and should involve, not only knowing how to do your household duties, but also how to care for your future husband and family, for the success of marriage and motherhood depends not only on finding the right person, but also on being the right person! If our present-day generation will be serious enough about their marriage and home obligations and enter into them with their eyes open, much of the headaches and heartaches to which they and their parents will be subjected, could be eliminated. Don’t marry someone you do not know; don’t be duped by physical attraction alone; look beneath the veneer of appearance into a person’s character and see how she or he acts under certain conditions. The game of marriage and motherhood is one of the most important games of the whole scheme of living: your future happiness or misery depends on the kind of choice you make: therefore, choose wisely.
In the Book of Proverbs, Chap. 31: Verses 10-31, we have the best and the most striking definition of the ideal mother. Solomon was the writer of this book and his characterizations of a perfect mother are excellent. Here he gives us a word picure of the ideal mother. His mother, Bathsheba, was a Godly woman, and he set forth for our benefit the impressions which he received from her and which made him a Godly man and a successful ruler.
Solomon states that an ideal mother must be God-fearing. “Looks are deceitful, beauty is vain, but a woman that feareth the Lord shall be praised,” Solomon admonishes. Solomon is here saying that one should look beyond the matter of physical beauty, for that isn’t the guide to character. Character is essential to the solidarity of the home and the stability of an enduring marriage. The beauty of a person’s character is reflected in his deeds and the kind of life he leads, and this is but the outgrowth of the stabilizing force, the God in the man or woman.
Let us not be deceived by outward appearances manifested in physical beauty. Godly character is the outcome of union and communion with God; without Him no person is or could be good. Only when a person considers God the supreme Fact and Factor in life, and is submissive and obedient to His will, can he hope to live worthily. This is where the responsibility of the home, the church, the school and church school comes in. We can’t hope to have homes generating Godliness, harmony, honesty and good will if we, the parents, don’t take the trouble of teaching these principles to our children and living them to the best of our ability.
Godly character cannot he bought in the market place; it disdains rubies. Neither is it the exclusive property of any race or class, or out of reach of anyone. It is rather the birthright of everyone, anyone, who cultivates it — it is a virtue whose value is supreme and whose rewards are heavenly.
Secondly, the ideal mother is not only religious but also industrious. In describing her, Solomon affirms. ‘She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” One of the great foundation stones of the home is a mother who takes her household duties seriously and takes the long view of the home life, for if the home is to endure, the inmates must be, should be industrious, because where the home life is lacking in industry — if the husband or wife eats their bread of idleness, and have not concept of economic security, it will portend ill for that home. When woman was first introduced into the home circle, she was endowed by God as man’s helpmate, to share with him and he with her, life’s weals and woes, the ups and downs, adversity as well as prosperity. In other words, they are joined together for better or for worse. Those who have been successful home builders, were the men and women who endured and won out in life’s struggles, because they shared their lives together and as they did they took on greater strength and courage, grew bigger in one another’s estimation and love. They conquered difficulty because they believed that what God has joined together, no person should split apart.
Thirdly, the ideal mother is one who is appreciated and revered by both her husband and her children, who shall “arise and call her blessed.”
The example of a good mother cannot be measured by words. “Let France have good mothers and she will have good sons.” said Napoleon. “The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom,” said a prominent American.
The verdict of all right thinking men as well as the verdict of the Bible, and of every day experience sneaks an eternal eulogy in behalf of the mother’s love and influence, yet we believe that love, respect and admiration for mother are on the wane, they are diminishing every day. Mother’s wishes and will are not taken with the seriousness they deserve. Children think it smart to look upon mother’s solid advice as old-fashioned; they offer her only fleeting obedience and lip service rather than a practical one; they deny her authority by willful neglect and thus store for themselves trouble in their future days.
“Honor thy father and mother that thy days may be long upon the earth,” the Bible commands us. Humanity can never outgrow the need to such a solid commandment, any more than it can outgrow the need to God. And if America, yes, if human beings are to overcome and triumph over the stupendous problems facing us today and every day, we must never lose sight of God’s authority, or the home authority or the Church’s authority. Only by bowing our heads and obeying their behests, can we hope for peace, harmony and good will and thus maintain a well-balanced, well-ordered world.