Some years ago the Brooklyn Tablet one of the best Catholic papers in the country related the experience of a father who had offered to keep house one day while mother went shopping. This father was an auditor by profession. He had a yen for keeping accounts. Figures were his forte. He could remember them clearly and record them rapidly. He decided to keep a running record of what took place that day. Here are some of the day's totals:
Opened the door for children 106 times
Closed the door for children 106 times
Tied their shoes 16 times
Rescued creeping baby 21 times
Told two-year old George "don't" 94 times
Stopped quarrels 15 times
Spread butter and jelly on bread 11 times
Distributed cookies 28 times
Served glasses of water 15 times
Answered telephone 7 times
Wiped noses 19 times
Answered questions 145 times
Stumped by questions 175 times
Lost temper 47 times
Ran after children (approximately) 4 1/2 miles
The exhausted head of the house had to admit that he might have been too busy to record every time, and that there were incidentals, like picking up toys and taking the scissors away from the baby, which he did in stride without having the second of leisure needed to jot it down.
His list also failed to include the countless other activities of the average mother: washing and ironing and patching and cooking. It lists not the long hours of watching and nursing, the numberless interruptions of sleep to cover the child, to prepare its bottle, see to its feeding and change its essential clothing. Nor did he record the hours of anxiety when the little one was sick or upset, or when mother was wondering what was going on at school or at play. Neither could he list the wearying worries of mother during the teens of her children.
If you want to get some idea of what your mother did for you, watch the mother with little babies—at home, in church, on the street, on the train or bus. What complete, unselfish, taxing service! Try it . Try to hold twenty pounds of squirming, twisting, bouncing flesh, with two tiny hands that reach out for spectacles, ribbons, hats, and every now and then a fistful of human hair. Try to keep him—or her—from putting the streetcar transfer or your Rosary or the collection envelope into that ever-eager mouth. Try to keep him covered and yet not too warm. Yes, and try to show him off to others without his tumbling over the back of the pew in church or the seat in the street-car. Keep him from crying or yelling when the priest is preaching—if you can.
Once you were a baby like that. Once some mother held you in her arms, fed you and washed you and changed your clothings at least a "dozen" times a day. That mother is your mother. That mother is every mother. No human auditor or accountant can ever do justice to the ARITHMETIC OF MOTHERHOOD. It takes a recording angel to add up what mothers do for their children. So, too, no earthly reward can ever compensate for the hours and years, the toils and tears, the heartaches and heartbreaks, a child will cost its mother. Such records are kept only in heaven. Rewards for this work are given only in heaven.
Nevertheless, we make a fervent if feeble attempt once a year to show our appreciation to those who brought us into the world, for what they have done for us. We set aside a day i n May to honor them and thank them and do a little problem in the Arithmetic of Motherhood—adding up all their sacrifices, their labors and their pains for us.
Most appropriately we honor mothers in the month which is dedicated to the Mother of us all . Who could ever compute the ARITHMETIC OF HER MOTHERHOOD? Who could ever add up her hours of prayer and loving aspirations, her penances of poverty, her discomforts, her fears and labors and sorrows?
Because she was the Mother of God the Almighty gave Mary every possible beauty and grace. Because she was the Mother of God, we honor Mary on Mother's Day, along with our earthly mothers, who were the first to tell us about our Mother in heaven.
To show our appreciation of the ARITHMETIC OF MOTHERHOOD, we need to add many more tokens of praise, many more expressions of thanks, many more proofs of love to Mary and all mothers. We need to multiply our words of gratitude, our gifts this day and all other days, our smiles of love. We need to divide some of the attention we give less important people and less meaningful things, and give some of that devotion to those who deserve it most—our mothers. We need to subtract a great deal of the forgetfulness, lack of appreciation, and downright ingratitude which we have shown them.
Our heavenly Mother and our earthly mother have done a limitless list of services for us. May we keep adding daily to the little list of things we can do for them. May God reward, as only God can, every service done us by our Mother in heaven and our mother on earth. Amen.
The card below can be printed if you so choose to give to your own mothers.