The girls and I have been reading the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder for many months now. I read aloud while they sit or play nearby. I’m sure they haven’t heard every word I’ve read, but they have shown enough interest that I’m sure it has been worth our time. One thing that has impressed me over and over again is the character of “Ma” in these books. My feelings waver between deep admiration for this beautiful, strong, gentle, wise woman and complete disbelief at times. I have found myself wondering if Laura was just choosing to report the good side of Ma, and left out the times when she stomped around on the prairie, her eyebrows knit together in complete frustration after one of the children tracked mud into the claim shanty again. Didn’t Ma ever burst into tears when she was pregnant and feeling overwhelmed with the many chores required of housewives back then? If she did, we never read about it. On the contrary, the few times that Ma shows any slight emotional outburst (such as raising her voice, or starting to cry) the whole family looks at her in shock because it is so unlike her!
So, although I realize it may be a bit idealistic, I’ve decided I want to be like Ma. Imagine how good it would be for my family to get used to a mother who stays calm and in control of her emotions in the midst of pregnancy, minor household crises such as the toilet overflowing, and anything else life throws her way. How great it would be for my children to know that Mom will not lose her cool when they use poor judgment and break something around the house. A mother who keeps her hands busy with projects when she is not working on household chores, who seldom sits idly and feels bored, who looks for the good in all situations, who respects and loves her husband, who has a deep faith in God and shares it with her family at every opportunity…imagine the peace and happiness in the home where such a mother exists!
The Little House books are not the only place we see such a woman portrayed. The Bible encourages women to live in such a way, especially in I Peter 3:3 & 4:
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
If you are struggling with anger at this point in your life, you’ll know what I mean when I say that you can dress up all you want, but you’ll still be ugly if you are bitter and angry inside. I have been surprised at times when I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror when I am angry. The furrowed brow, the tight muscles around my mouth, the dark eyes, the veins bulging out on my forehead or neck…who is that monster in the mirror?! The opposite is also true: even if I am dressed in sweats and a t-shirt, if I am at peace inside and feel good about life, my smile and sparkling eyes make me look beautiful. Our face shows what is in our hearts at any given moment. Proverbs 27:19 says, “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” What is your heart reflecting today?
Not all of the women in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books acted like Ma did. In These Happy Golden Years we read about poor Mrs. Brewster. Laura stayed with them while she taught school, and Mrs. Brewster made life miserable for everyone. She seldom even talked to Laura, she resented her presence there, she brooded, neglected the housework, let her child act like a little terror, and pouted and quarreled with her husband because she wanted to go back East. Laura was so glad to get back to her cheerful, peaceful, loving family every weekend. What kind of home atmosphere are you providing for your family? We’ll all fail at times, but as a general rule are you providing a safe, happy, loving environment for your children?
I pray that all of us can become more like Ma as we learn to deal effectively with anger in our lives. God will help us as we humble ourselves and run to Him for wisdom and guidance.
How will your children portray “Mom” when they write their life stories someday?
© Robyn Mulder 1998, therobynsnest.org