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Happiness of Motherhood

A friend sent me this article and thought I would share it here. It encapsulates a mother's love for her babies, the joy in large families and the beauty of spending each day at home, raising children.


This is a really neat article written by my dad's mom during the Depression. Grandma had grown up as one of two children of a well-to-do merchant, and when she married Grandpa, he was a dirt-poor farmer. They were poor almost their whole life, and yet they raised 10 children, 8 of whom have remained faithful Catholics and have raised their own families. (We're praying for the other two to be reconciled to the Church). Anyway it's a short article, but it's really beautiful.

Happiness of Motherhood

By Winnifred St. Hilaire

It all started some fifteen years ago when the saintly nun who was my teacher advised us to petition St. Joseph in the job of finding a husband if we considered marriage to be our vocation. Out of school, I never ceased to do this periodically, and when he finally came along I knew instinctively that here was a man who would help make my dream come true—a family of twelve children.

Last summer the fifth baby was added to our thriving family. What a miracle for the other four! What a rejuvenation for me. Could it be that because of my yearning for them, my resignation to God’s will, this peace, this buoyant youth, this exhilaration is given to me? Only He could reward so lavishly.

My work is a joy, a boon. I fly about beneath the clothes-line hanging the snowy washing in the wind, my six-year old son assisting. The cars whiz by on the road. My neighbors are going to and from their work or to their bridge luncheons. I feel their pity coming out to me. "That woman is always hanging up clothes." Above the chatter of the little boy beside me, my mind and heart indulge in a little pity for them.
They love their parties and their pin-money, a fleeting love. I love my children, my husband, and my home, an abiding worthwhile love. The time they devote to their hobbies is for the most part, a way to spend time. Mine is an investment, not only for my own pleasure and the broadening of my character but in the character of my children and for my own old age. Who will have the greater return in love and tenderness thirty years hence, I from my twelve children or they from their club activities? And who saved the most in her home now—the mother who must prepare her meals hurriedly after a late arrival, or I who am here with my mind and body, a fulltime mother and homemaker?

My friends come to call. They hold my sweet new baby on their knees. They tell me how much they love children and recall the days when their child was a baby. I gladly share this new miracle with them but it seems to me they are catching only the crumbs of happiness that fall from my abundance.

What mother, when she bends over the crib of her infant and feels the wave of affection flowing from her to this unbelievable vision before her, what mother can dare to say she does not want another! The pleasure derived from an afternoon among friends (I’ve experienced it!) can be as only husks compared to this rapture. And what other mother, when she comes home from her work to find her single child demanding a ride in the car or money for the movies, would not envy the simplicity with which our family of youngsters find entertainment in each other, but more especially around that most attractive spot in the whole house, the new baby’s bed?

Or when Sunday afternoon comes—yes, I even give up Sunday afternoons to my children—and the whole family tramps through the fields to our own laughing brook there to take whatever nature offers us, who can say there is greater pleasure elsewhere? The dragon fly skimming up and down above the length of the water is a masterpiece of color-blend. The questions he cannot answer about it send daddy scurrying to the encyclopedia, all of hanging over his shoulder, for there might be a picture. That robin’s nest welded too high in the branch for young eyes must be pulled down or four little bodies must be lifted to its level. The mystery of it up there rivals any amount of anticipation of a movie. What is beheld in there surpasses the best movie, and no movie has a story such as this to unfold before watchful eyes. The fishes, the crawdads, even the colorful rocks among the sands in the water, how alluring to a little child. I have heard my 4-year old imitate the birds, while neighbors played at "cops and robbers".

We could ask nothing better for our children than that they learn the thrill of "discovering" some drama of nature, to such an extent that they want it repeated time and time again, on into their teens. Did not Shakespeare and Lincoln take their pleasure thus? What but their close communion with the earth in early childhood could infuse such habits?

So in this family which wants twelve children and already has five, it is hard to tell who has the best time—the little ones who find life so new and puzzling and full and satisfying, or their parents who find the characters of the children unfolding before them in such fascinating patterns. If two children can amuse adults with their droll expressions then five will more than double that amusement. If a few can give occasional joy, many can make it constant. And fighting? I believe that the five will learn give and take more readily and gracefully than the two. Parents of moderate means, or less, cannot buy five of everything.

That is why I would not trade with any part-time mother I know. As a full-time mother I do not lose any of the joy that emanates from my children, nor they from me. And perhaps they will form a sort of pass key when I come to the pearly gates.

*Reprint from The Grail, (St. Meinrad, Ind.) February, 1938.


  1. so beautiful!!! I just love it...I am going to link to it!!! +JMJ+


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