There are greater things than a satisfied ambition, and a clean, happy, united married life is one.
To Mrs. Charles Gordon
I have tried to imagine myself in your place, as you requested, before answering your letter.
To be the mother of two children, and to know that a third may be added before the fifth anniversary of your wedding, is for the most maternal of women a situation requiring rare patience and much philosophy.
I know that your strength is depleted, that you are nervously unstrung, and I can understand your despondent state of mind.
It seems to you that all romance and sentiment in life is being sacrificed to breeding the species. You feel that you have some personal privileges as a wife and a woman, not less than a mother.
Like yourself, I do not believe woman’s only mission in life to be the production of offspring, yet I consider motherhood the highest privilege accorded her who has for it the right physical and moral qualities.
Only strong, sensible, and healthy women should become mothers, and it is a mistake for even such as they to be kept constantly in that occupation.
You possess all the requisites, and you ought to bring fine children into the world, since you married the man you loved, and have been happy with him.
But I can understand your reluctance to pass through the ordeal which modern motherhood in civilized races means, for a third time, in so short a period. But try and take another view of the situation.
Benjamin Franklin was the fifteenth child of a poor tallow chandler. It is altogether probable that his coming seemed a misfortune to his mother, taxed with the care of such a brood. Think what the world would have missed had he not come to earth.
Then think of this unborn child as something wonderful and divine, given to you to perfect. Believe it is to be the greatest blessing to you and to the whole world.
Cultivate love and protection in your heart for it.
Tell yourself every hour of the day that the God of love will not desert you or deprive you of strength and courage for your ordeal. That he will be ever near, and sustain and comfort you.
Desire all beautiful and good qualities to be given your child, and resolutely turn away from the contemplation of anything that is hideous, or unwholesome, or depressing.
Look for pleasing objects, read cheerful and uplifting books, and from infinite space call to you all ministering influences.
Consider how short a time, when compared to the span of human life, expectant motherhood occupies, and realize the vastness of its influence upon the nature of the child, and through that nature upon all humanity.
Once you grasp that consciousness, you will feel your closeness to the Creator of all things.