“Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.” (Proverbs 31:29)
Most good girls become wives and mothers. There are some truehearted women who do not, but they will very nearly all tell you, as old age creeps on them, that they feel certain they have missed the best that life could have given them. One woman who had given her life in noble and uplifting work, whose name is familiar in every home for her influence in the lives of other women, said when questioned on this very point (for she had never married), “I would give it all for the touch of little hands.” There is a heart-cry in every woman that cannot be satisfied except in motherhood.
If a girl knew that she was to be a teacher, an artist, or a musician, she would not put off all thought and preparation for her lifework till she was ready to begin it, but instead would fit herself for it by study and practice. There would be years of hard work between her and success in her chosen calling.
There is no calling higher than that of motherhood, and the place of wife is nearly as high. The wife, if she is what God means for her to be, is a helpmeet, a strength and constant blessing to her husband. He is a better man with a fuller and more useful life because of her influence. Without her, his life could not be perfect. To be this to one person all through a lifetime may mean much to any woman. And by making his life fuller, her own life is enlarged, and others are blessed thereby. It is a wonderful and a noble thing to be a good wife, and the mistress of a real home.
But the calling of a mother is yet higher. Then the woman brings into the world other beings, and is responsible to God and to the world for their care and training. It is a lifelong job, and one that will tell for good or bad to the end of the world. Not one woman who has been a mother has failed to leave her imprint on the world. There are now on record the names of women whose wicked lives and ungodly children and children’s children down to the present generation have cost their states and cities thousands of dollars; and there are other women whose names are on record in life’s history whose godly and upright lives have so influenced their children that they, down to the present generation, are a blessing and benediction in the world. Motherhood is a far-reaching destiny indeed. It is the highest calling, the noblest work, the greatest honor that can come to any woman. This is also what will, if used rightly, bring her the most happiness and genuine satisfaction of anything in life. For this God made her, and fitted her by nature.
Nature begins, when the girl is just entering her teens, rapidly to fit the girl’s body for motherhood. Those organs that are especially given for that work begin to grow and develop, and the nature of the girl begins to change, as we have shown, to make her ready to desire and appreciate her calling when the right time comes. This bodily change is not completed so that the girl is ready for her wonderful work till she has finished her teens. There are a few girls who develop into full womanhood before they are twenty, but they are not many among us, and some are not mature until several years above twenty. There are six to ten years of life given by nature to this special work in the body, and if she is not hindered she will give her child a beautiful “temple of health” in which to live and fulfill her lifework. But many girls strive against the design of wise providence, to their own sorrow.
The wise girl will dress in proper clothing, so that her body will not be bound and choked in its efforts to develop; her clothing will also be sufficient to protect her from cold and dampness, so that no shock shall hinder nature in her work; the girl will take proper exercise in the open air so that her muscles will develop and her lungs can be filled with the life-giving oxygen, for nature never meant that her children should be hothouse plants; she will eat properly and regularly, not making her stomach a dumping ground for all the foolish likes and fancies of the palate; she will take a sufficient amount of sleep in a properly ventilated room, not keeping late hours either in retiring or rising; she will seek in all she does to live a quiet, simple, natural life, giving nature a chance to do her best. The keeping of these simple rules of health will be of untold benefit, and their breaking may lead to lifelong regret.
The body is not the only part of a girl that should be fitted for the duties of womanhood. The girl needs knowledge of many things. The responsibilities that will be hers as wife and mother go out in every direction, and she needs to learn to be an all-around woman.
First in importance in this consideration is the cultivation of her own nature so that she can be true in affection, steady in purpose, and reliable in responsibility. She needs to be able to control herself so that she can give up her way for the peace of her little realm, and be able to hold all the members of her kingdom through the bonds of love. The selfish and self-willed, the tempestuous and stormy, the indolent and sluggish, the careless and indifferent—all are out of the race. They can never make the best mothers. It takes real women to make good mothers, and real women can govern and direct their own actions aright. The girl needs to have a working knowledge of the responsibilities that will be hers. She should know how to cook and bake, to wash and iron, to scrub and clean, to sew and mend—in fact, how to do everything that a housewife needs to have done. If her circumstances are such that she does not actually have this work to do, she can direct the efforts of others the better for knowing how the work is done. The girl should know how to buy economically, both for the kitchen and household, and for the wardrobe. Without this knowledge she will waste her husband’s means, and make his path hard in the beginning of their lives together. Last of all—but far from least—the girl should learn to love little children and to make them her friends. She ought to learn how to care for infants, and how to build up in her heart a desire for motherhood. No, my girls, it is not a thing to be ashamed of, that desire in you for little children. God put it there, and if you really feel, as some girls will lightly say of themselves, that you never want to be bothered with babies, then you are an unnatural girl. Somewhere poison has been put into your mind and heart, which should be purged out, and right principles of life implanted instead.
Getting ready for womanhood is serious business, and not to be taken lightly. Every girl should have a thorough knowledge of herself and of the proper care of her body. There are books that treat on this very subject, and from them every girl can learn what she needs and really desires to know about herself.
The real woman’s life is so filled with love and gladness that all the suffering and pain that must come as a portion of motherhood is forgotten in the joy it brings. May God bless the dear mothers to be, and help them to get ready for the work that will be theirs.
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