A few years ago there appeared in a large city newspaper a true story of a young boy, then fourteen years old. The story was titled “The Evolution of a Delinquent.” After rehearsing the many serious involvements the boy had had with the law, the reporter posed the question, “What twisted paths of childhood lead to the tortuous road of delinquency?” Interviews with the boy’s neighbors began to supply at least part of the answer.
One neighbor lady said, “I try not to think of him the way he is now, but how he was when he came to our home and played with our children years ago.” Tears filled her eyes as she recalled one afternoon when the young boy, then a small child, rushed to her home after his father had picked him up at a day nursery. As the little boy held on to her hand, she asked, “Why do you always come running to our house when you come home from the nursery?” The tot replied sorrowfully, “Because there is no mommy at my house.”
The woman said that this answer almost broke her heart. There was a mommy at his house and a father also, but many times the children were left at home alone to care for themselves. Often the children would go to the neighbors’ homes because there was not light and companionship at their own home. They were afraid of the dark. This was not just a darkness that fades with the morning sunlight. You see, there is a darkness that comes when there is no mother there.
Throughout my life I have seen the influence for good which dedicated mothers have had in their homes. Because of this, I should like to present my thoughts today in hopes of giving encouragement, strength, and guidance to those of your number who are confused and wondering about the importance of their call in the Lord’s eternal plan.
President David O. McKay put it beautifully when he said, speaking of mothers, “This ability and willingness properly to rear children, the gift to love, and eagerness, yes, longing to express it in soul development, make motherhood the noblest office or calling in the world. She who can paint a masterpiece or write a book that will influence millions deserves the admiration and the plaudits of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters, whose influence will be felt through generations to come, whose immortal souls will exert an influence throughout the ages long after paintings shall have faded, and books and statues shall have decayed or shall have been destroyed, deserves the highest honor that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God. In her high duty and service to humanity, endowing with immortality eternal spirits, she is co-partner with the Creator himself.” (Gospel Ideals, Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1953, pp. 453–54.)
One of the great tragedies of our day is the confusion in the minds of some which would cause mothers to go to work in the marketplace. Satan, that master of deceit, would have us believe that when we have problems with our children, the answer may be a nicer home in a finer neighborhood, that they might have their own bedroom, or better quality clothes, and maybe their own car. Satan would have us believe that money or the things money can buy are more important in the home than mother.
Now there are some mothers with school-age children who are the breadwinners of their family and they must work; they are the exception. Fathers and mothers, before you decide you need a second income and that mother must go to work out of the home, may I plead with you: first go to the Lord in prayer and receive his divine approbation. Be sure he says yes. Mothers with children and teenagers at home, before you go out of your homes to work, please count the cost as carefully as you count the profit. Earning a few dollars more for luxuries cloaked in the masquerade of necessity—or a so-called opportunity for self-development of talents in the business world, a chance to get away from the mundane responsibilities of the home—these are all satanic substitutes for clear thinking. They are counterfeit thoughts that subvert the responsibilities of motherhood. As you count the costs of mother working out of the home, please consider the following:
—A mother gone when her children need her most or one who is too tired from a day spent in employment. Far better for a boy or girl to go to school in last year’s shirts or hand-me-down dresses that are clean even though not in the height of fashion and come home to find mother there, than for a boy or girl to go to school in finer and newer clothes and come home to a new TV or a baby-sitter because Mother is away working.
I like the poem of Esther H. Doolittle:
Count as the cost:
—A mother whose daily thoughts have been tinted gray by some whose morals are not as high as hers.
—A mother whose time is so filled that she can’t give full measure to the most respected profession of all—motherhood.
—A mother whose energy is so sapped that she is sometimes neglecting her call from the Lord, a call that will one day prepare her to become an eternal mother—a cocreator of spiritual offspring.
—A mother who, in a moment of confusion, has forgotten that you learn to do by doing, you learn to be by being, that motherhood is an art to be developed through practice. This art isn’t easy to learn, but learn you can because as you strive, the Lord will bless you with growth, patience, wider understanding, and loving warmth for your family’s special needs.
Count as the cost:
—A home where the heart has been weakened, ofttimes destroyed because of the wish for so-called material comforts at the expense of spiritual necessities.
Remember, a loving Father in heaven sent some of his own for you to care for. As in the song “To a Child,” children are not a gift to us, but a precious loan, a priceless loan to be returned—returned more valuable than when we received them, understanding more, better prepared to return to him who lent them to us. The charge is ours to increase their worth.
Our Father in heaven would rather have you comfort the scratched arm of a little boy in patched trousers than have a baby-sitter or older sister or brother do the same because you are away working. He would rather have you read stories in the afternoon to a little girl in a faded blue hand-me-down dress than have her entertained by a color TV because you are away working to make the payments. He would rather have a child come home from school to a mother ironing clothes or baking cookies, than to come home to a hired housekeeper because mother is away learning typing or shorthand to improve her job qualifications.
Brothers and sisters, do without if you need to, but don’t do without mother. Mother is more important in the home than money or the things money can buy. Our Father in heaven wants you to be in your home to guide these spirits as no one else can, in spite of material sacrifices that may result. He created you to learn to be a good mother—an eternal mother. It is your first and foremost calling. No baby-sitter, no grandmother, no neighbor, no friend, no Relief Society sister, older brother or sister, or even a loving dad can take your place.
Again we say, unless the Holy Ghost has given you a confirmation that it is all right, don’t go out of your home for hire.
Now, to those of us who are husbands and children, let us help our mothers and wives be happy in our homes. Let us love them, honor them, respect them, revere them. Let us help them fulfill their call from the Lord. Let us be sure we do our part to make our homes pleasant. Let us help them have time for mental improvement, for educational growth, for cultural pursuits, and for developing talents. A home will be blessed and enriched when a mother is encouraged in these paths.
I know a young mother who has a great talent in music. She sings beautifully and plays the piano with great feeling and ability. Every week she gives a lesson to each of her four little children. Every day she spends a few minutes alone with each child, sometimes sharing with them her love for art or music. Besides blessing her children and her husband with great talents, she leads a choir and gives joy to many with her singing. When women develop their talents, it is a blessing to themselves and their families.
Remember too, brethren, a cheery “please,” “thank you,” or “I’m sorry, dear” will go a long way to heal the wounds of a sometimes frustrating day. It’s amazing what a two-minute phone call to your wife at midday can do for her spirits. You sons and daughters and husbands, it is important for our exaltation that our wives and mothers enjoy and learn their profession well. Let us do our part to help them.
May the Lord bless mothers everywhere. You who stay home to tend and care for the little spirits that bless your home, may you feel that sweet spirit of peace, contentment, and satisfaction. To you mothers who are the breadwinners in your family and must be gone from your home, may you be blessed with an abundance of the spirit of heaven to strengthen and sustain you as you direct the lives of these beautiful little ones that lighten and enliven your home.
To you mothers who haven’t yet caught the vision of your eternal call, may you especially be enlightened by the spirit of truth as you weigh carefully in the balance the things of real value in this life. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.