Thursday, February 23, 2023

Heroic Mothers

Floral painting by Mark Stilleven Van Bloemen (1792-1844).

One of the most difficult duties of motherhood is taking care of children who are sick. This is especially hard when mother, herself, is ill.  Yet I have found that there is a subtle blessing which shines forth when the storms clear.  The result affects the entire household and helps to form characters into compassionate, loving people who are willing to serve others in need.

There is a feeling of safety and comfort for a child when mother devotes her time to caring for the little one.  Children feel loved and protected when mother is the dedicated nurse on duty and on call throughout the day and night. She willingly gives up her own projects and plans to focus on the care of her children. When she does this cheerfully, overflowing with love and patience, this not only helps the child's physical ailments to heal but it also heals and soothes a precious soul.

I can just see the mother putting fresh sheets on the child's bed. She places the thermometer nearby. There is a drink, a plate of saltine crackers, a box of tissue, and perhaps a little activity book to amuse the child and help pass the time in pleasant amusement. Mother will check on her child at regular times. She will bring appetizing meals on a tray. This might contain a bowl of soup with crackers or a pretty bowl of jello. 

For children who are very ill, there is always a basin or bucket beside the bed for such emergencies which come up at those moments. This is regularly kept clean and returned as needed. Children will be sleeping a lot. Good rest, fluids, and special care will help them recover in good time.

In some cases there are several children taken ill all at once.  It is difficult for them to be in separate rooms. It might be a good idea to set up a little hospital in the living room. Children would have their blankets and pillows and be settled on the couches and floors. Each would have a basin or bucket nearby for emergencies.  Mother could easily tend to them because she is also close to the kitchen. 

When there is a sick baby or toddler, the work is much more involved.  Mother is often seen pacing the floors to soothe an irritable baby.  One can hear her singing little lullabies or soothing hymns to help calm and comfort the sick one.  During this type of labor, there is very little she can do to keep house, prepare meals, or even get her own food.  This is the time when the other children begin to learn how to help run the house. For now mother will trust little 8 year old Agnes to make the toast.  She will ask Joe to pour the juice.  Her directions come as she holds the baby on the couch, or while pacing the floors.  She will tell the children where to get a towel to clean up the accidental spill. She will whisper to another where to find the butter in the refrigerator. Soon the younger children learn to bring food to mother and the sick ones.  They learn to serve with concern and compassion. This is how they learn to manage and keep house through the directions of mother who can only do her work from the sidelines. This blessing of molding characters for service comes out of necessity.

There is an even harder task for a mother.  This is when her heroism shines through. It is when she is dreadfully sick and can barely take care of  herself. She may have a serious virus causing such things as being lightheaded, feverish, and other such symptoms. When there is nobody else at home to help her care for the little ones, she miraculously drags herself into the kitchen to get easy meals and drinks for her children. She sees to their needs before falling into bed for any moments of rest she is able to get.  I have seen toddlers sitting at the kitchen table while a mother has gone through incredible efforts to get their lunches served.  These children are too young to ever grasp the sacrifice of such a mother as she cares for her family despite her own suffering. This is a heroic mother - doing what must be done regardless of what she is going through.  She is often praying for strength. She is praying for endurance. In this difficulty, only God sees her dedicated labor. He will bless and reward her in due time.

When the sun begins to shine in the sick rooms, when children begin to get up and about, the healing has taken place and soon all will be back to normal.  This is when the blankets and sheets are given another wash. The windows are opened to bring in clean air and another disinfecting of the rooms must be accomplished. The rooms are soon back in order and ready for normal life. Mother and children are well.  Yet there is a change that has taken place.  One is less self-focused after such an ordeal.  Life is acutely precious. There is a wonderful bond of love and care that has settled over the family.  

Sickness often comes upon us unawares. We know not when it will happen. It may even be a continual, unseen visitor, throughout the winter months. There will be cycles of wellness and sickness. If we expect this type of storm and prepare in advance we can have an easier time of dealing with all the work.  For some reason, which we may never know, God has chosen this to come upon us. If we remember to lean on Him for strength, go to Him for courage to endure, and pray for healing, we will feel so blessed and content knowing that our Heavenly Father will walk with us through this trial. Through these difficulties we will know from experience that God is with us through every storm.  Knowing that we can do nothing without Him, we must rest content in His care.


Mrs. White



Photograph: Scene of a farm in Vermont near Mrs. White's Home.


From the Archives -

For detailed help in caring for the ill, from my Mother's example - A Comforting Sick Room.


Taking Care of a family of 4 generations in one house - Gracious Homemaking.

A Precious Lifetime of Duty at home at - The Mission House.  



 - To find out more about this blog, or Mrs. White, please visit our About page. -

  For Encouragement in Christian Homemaking, order Mrs. White's book, "Homemaking For Happiness: Wonderful Days at Home."

In this book, you will find essays, articles, and diary entries about life in a Christian home.

Entries are arranged by season, and include:  "Keeping a Frugal Kitchen;" "Missing the Lilacs;" "An Evening Walk in the Garden;" "At Grandmother's House;" and "Chores for Grandchildren."

You will also find a few photographs showing a little of the local landscape.

Paperback, 307 pages.




Homemaker' said...

This is beautiful, Mrs. White. I remember those sick days well and was so glad that I was able to provide the love, comfort, and tenderness needed to nurse them back to health. God bless your day. Mary

stephanie said...

thank you, Mrs White for helping us to deal with sick children...especially if mother is sick!

Andrea G. said...

Thank you so much for this post, Mrs. White, and for giving me (and I’m sure many others) the encouragement we need to carry on. I actually started crying like a baby when I read it yesterday :). It’s easy to feel alone and desperate in the thick of it, and your words reminded me I’m not alone, others have made it through, and they gave me renewed courage and strength. I really don’t have words for my gratitude. I’m printing out the post and putting it in a special journal I keep so I can reread it the next time (hopefully a long, long time from now) that we’re gearing up for more illness. You have been in my prayers and will continue to be.

Elizabethd said...

Very beautifully written, and for me, not so far away from the last few years of tending to a very unwell husband. Anything done with love will always have the best results.

Marilyn @ MountainTopSpice said...

You have shared so beautifully the blessing that comes with sacrificial love. I found myself nodding my head as many, many such scenes came to mind both from my childhood from my own mother, and my own mothering care. I remember sometimes being so ill I couldn't hardly walk, yet I managed to find strength to care for the little ones. This would be such an encouragement to young mothers! Blessings to you dear friend!

Amelia said...

Yes, I can so relate to this entry. It's beautiful in a way, what a mother does, the inner strength that is involved from the Lord.

I've been ill lately too and even dealing with sick animals and such is something that must be done.

That is such a beautiful painting above, I love that. It speaks such Peace.

Hope you are doing well, it's always an encouragement to read here.

Blessings to you, take care, love, Amelia