Human Life Education

Chapter 9: Motherhood is Golden

By Erica John, President, De Rance Foundation
Address given in Tokyo, Morning Star School, 1981
De Rance, Milwaukee, 1981.

The most beautiful name a woman can possess is mother. To her is given the precious experience of feeling within herself the stirring of God's most beloved creation, a human life.

Mothers are destined to give new life and to nurture and protect it. Not only does a mother give physical birth, but her welcome and love give her child psychic birth, that is, the ability to experience life in full measure. A child deprived of such affirmation, deprived of joyful interplay with his mother, will achieve something less than the full experience of life and may even suffer psychic harm.

The psychological and emotional well-being of every child is dependent upon his mother's tender love. A child's psyche is unfolding even at birth. This growth is nourished by the mother's unsleeping awareness of her child's psychic and physical needs, A child grows and develops through his mother's continual close physical and spiritual solicitude and through her constant attention and loving interaction with him.

From the moment of conception a child, hidden within the walls of his mother's womb, unknown to everyone and yet very much alive, has the right to live. and the right to be loved. God entrusted mothers with this most awesome duty and great privilege.The process of birth and nurturing should be a great joy for every mother, even though it is very demanding, both physically and psychologically. Thus, every mother needs moral and psychological support from her family; she needs the freedom to give her own very best effort to her new child.

Motherhood is a woman's most important task in her entire life, and yet there is so little formal educational assistance to prepare her for it. Pastors and teachers can be of great service by providing enlightened premarital instruction.

The greatest joy and fulfillment of a woman is precisely in having

this child - this little one, this miracle of life. Holding her newborn baby is such a stirring experience for a woman that words can hardly express it. Here is this little one, so perfect, so close, so loving - and he is totally dependent on you. There is just nothing in the world that can be more rewarding to a woman - nothing! Not fame, not ability, not money, not acclaim. This is it! She is happy; she is fulfilled.

I think I didn't enjoy motherhood as much as I could have when the first babies came. I was too preoccupied with trying to do the right thing for the child and avoiding mistakes. Later I was more at ease and could enjoy it. It's so tremendous! [Mrs. John is the mother of nine children. - Ed.]

The family within which the mother functions needs strong support from society if it is to remain stable and loving and to carry out its task of supporting new life. So much damage is done to families, and so much injustice to children, when there is a lack of support or a hostile attitude toward babies.

The term "unwanted child" should never be used. The mass media would do well to bury that term, to put it away forever. It is a terrible thing to say, even in the news media. No child should ever have any doubts! Every child has a night to be born; every child has the right to be wanted. These rights belong to every human being.

Abortion is unjust and unspeakably cruel. Does the mother choose which of her children she will affirm and love and which she will abort? Does she select certain of her children to love and others to reject? The decision to abort cuts deeply into the true essence and integrity of womanhood itself, and society should never attempt to pressure mothers into such an unnatural, unmotherly, and horrible decision.

One thing to be observed, though, is that mothers should not feel compelled to have large families. Mothers are not machines. Theirs is a vocation to be carried out with joy and good order. And that is why NFP is such a beautiful answer for mothers in our day and age. Very often the difficulty is not having too many children, but having them too close together. If they come too fast, one right after the other, the mother finds it hard to cope, and the little ones may feel deprived of enough attention and love. She can't give the growing baby all he needs and deserves before the next one arrives.

Spacing children two years apart, even three, is good. Let mothers have a voice in setting the pace. NFP can remove excessive burdens without removing the delight of motherhood. I am happy to hear that NFP is helping some countries like Japan overcome an abortion problem, but I think that is only the beginning. NFP can help mothers positively, help them to live their vocation without fear. NFP can also help many wives to achieve a desired pregnancy if they are having difficulty. By observing the signs, many subfertile couples can select the best times, thereby increasing their chances to bring a loved one into this world. I think it is good that women of today receive an education in NFP.

The love a mother gives to each new child, this affirmation of his life, is a gift he will always possess, a treasure he can always keep; it can nourish and support him. To see love at work in each new child is a marvel to the eye and a joy to the heart. This love is an energy that is received by the child, to remain as his constant spring of life. Even in old age, people think back on their childhood. They find it easier to conduct themselves as human beings should, easier to be stable, when they always carry about this treasure of love that mother gave them.

Thus life is affirmed from generation to generation, down through hundreds and thousands of years, from age to age. Tragically, the lack of affirmation of life, when a young child does not receive enough love, also passes down through the generations, and with negative results.

The father, too, plays a special role in the life of the child. Children seem to sense this truth better than adults. The mother affirms the child's life, being almost a part of it; the child sees his mother almost as an extension of himself, hardly recognizing her as a separate person. The father, on the other hand, is another person to the child. The father brings the outside world into his life. Everything that is exciting, that is new, that is fun - this the child seeks in the father. Babies laugh with their fathers more than with their mothers. I notice that our baby, upon getting up in the morning, breezes past all the rest of us and goes to father. Fathers make the child feel warm, secure, brave in the world. That is why fathers are so important, and why they should be there for the children. I agree that the best gift a father can give his child is to love his mother, as has often been said. All human relations start right there. What a tremendous benefit it is for the child to experience a warm and cozy life in this nest of love, where father and mother give themselves to each other and to the children!

God has made motherhood so marvelous, so precious! Let's keep it that way. Motherhood is a lamp we must keep lighted so that it can shine for the good of mankind. As Christ said: "No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bushel basket or under a bed. He puts it on a lampstand so that whoever comes in can see it." (Luke 8:16).

Next Page: Chapter 10: Dating - serial marriage
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