Three readers have sent me clippings of Mother's Day columns that have appeared here in bygone years and have asked that I reprint them. A fourth has sent me a column not written for Mother's Day (it appeared on Sept. 29, 1964) and has suggested that this might be a good time to reprint it. The 1964 column strikes me as possibly being partinent enough to recycle, but perhaps I'm wrong. See what you think. Under the heading "The Difference Was In The Mothers," the column went like this:
A few days ago, I wondered aloud why some children from poor neighborhoods turn out well and some do not. An answer is at hand from a woman whose identity will be protected for reasons that will soon become obvious.
The woman's letter was written on inexpensive, ruled paper. I will reproduce it verbatim so that you can judge it for yourself. The womanwrote:
"Let me be anonymous and I will answer your question with a personal example, my husband's family and my own.
"We were both born around the same time, raised in similar houses (two room shacks), had the same type father (the kind that makes it home once a week), but here is the answer, the difference was in our mothers.
"My mother served beans and beans and more beans, always with a smile. We thought pigs only had tails, ears, pork bones or chitterlings, pork chops never.
"But we ate these things because my mother seasoned them and served them with a smile.
"We wore dresses and shirts made from any type printed sack she got hold of and they were starched and ironed up nicely. She made up songs, stories and home made paper dolls. And we always had enough to share. Beans, pig feet etc. that is.
"I've known her to buy a bag of bones, make a stew, give each of us a bone and tell us how fortunate we were to have such good bones to chew on.
"She always sat down to eat with us and it never occurred to us children that we were poor.
"My husband's mother was quite different. Their meals were served haphazard with the usual complaint of a 'no good father.'
"Their clothes were always dingy cleaned. There was no candy making or singing or story telling or laughing. There was always work to be done because Mom sat on her rump and complained.
"So who did most of the work? The children.
"My husband and I started out with nothing. We have slept on floors and had to eat beans and chicken necks. He complained so much about eating these things I started feeding the children before he came in, trying the laughter bit instead of grumbling, and a big change came over the kids.
"They got a kick out of me making home made sirup from sugar and water, or home made candy from plain sirup.
"We're living 75 per cent better now and the children actually don't remember of the times when we had nothing. My husband still grumbles.
"When things go wrong in a marriage and the mother sulks and is resentful, it rubs off on the children. It is hard to keep an upper lip when one is misused. But all worthwhile projects, jobs and everything profitable calls for work and sacrifice. When love and romance goes out of a marriage, love and formation should be used on the children so they don't even know they're missing something."
The lady is probably not a college graduate, but she has learned some things that aren't taught in college. But one question remains unanswered: Why does one mother permit life to frustrate and defeat her while another mother in the same circumstances keeps her family moving ahead through the strength of her own character? Perhaps the difference is indeed in mothers. But what makes the difference in mothers?