Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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        Mistakes of Mothers.
    A young married man has been telling me his
troubles, and it has led me to think on a sub-
ject I have long deemed worthy of discussion.
    There is a good deal of trouble caused in the
domestic world by what might be termed mother-
    I mean the selfish mania that takes possession of
some women as soon as they become mothers--a
mania that causes them to forget or ignore all other
duties or obligations, even that of wifehood.
    We all know such women--they think, dream, talk
nothing but "baby" from the hour of its arrival
until the time when they talk "children" by the
arrival of another.
    A wife of this kind has no time to go out with her
husband.  She must stay with the baby, no matter
how excellently she is provided with reliable assist-
    She urges the husband to go out and enjoy him-
self and not worry about her.  She has the chil-
dren for company, and a thousand and one things
to do for them, and she feels she is showing a
lovely, liberal spirit as a wife, while she is doing
her duty as a mother by this line of conduct.
    When he strays away into the society of other
women, who exert themselves to entertain him,
people will sigh and say: "What a heartless man
to be faithless to such a devoted wife and mother."
For that is the generally accepted term applied by
the undescerning to any woman who makes a slave
of herself to her children.  She is supposed to pos-
sess all the virtues.
    Good motherhood calls for a great deal of sacri-
fice, but it never calls for the sacrifice of a reason-
able husband's happiness.
    The most appreciative fathers like sometimes to
talk of something besides the baby.  They like to
feel that the wife's attention may be arrested for a
brief period on subjects which do not immediately
concern the child, and that the house is still a home
for the husband as well as a nursery for the off-
    More than one home has been wrecked because
the wife could not, or would not, understand the
husband's feelings in this matter.
    The woman who is devoid of maternal instinct is
a monstrosity, but the woman whose mother-mania
absorbs all other impulses and obliterates all ideas
of other duties in life is also abnormal, and needs
to be treated for mental disorders.
    It is a curious fact that women with this tendency
to immolate themselves and others on the altars of
motherhood, usually marry men who would make
devoted husbands if they were given half a chance.
    I have heard a wife accuse her husband of being
jealous of his own children, and she was so short-
sighted and devoid of affectional impulses toward
him, that she could not be made to see how she was
wounding a good man's pride and humiliating him
by her indifference to his attentions.
    "It is so unreasonable of him," she said, "to ex-
pect me to go about with him as I did before the
children came.  He seems to have no paternal in-
stincts at all.  I don't know what would become of
the children if I were not a devoted mother."
    She forgot that she took the vow of wifehood,
"to love and to cherish," before she took upon
herself the duties of motherhood.
    It is an unwise thing to be "always" with any-
body.  Let the devoted husband get away from his
wife some portion of every day--let the devoted
wife give her husband a rest from her society occa-
sionally, and let the devoted mother make her chil-
dren appreciate her by an absence now and then.
    The sweetest strain of music ever played becomes
a meaningless sound if heard for twenty-four hours
with no rest for the ear.
    Don't cheat your children of the delight of watch-
ing for your return, dear madam.  And in order to
return to them, you must sometimes go away.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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