Friday, July 18, 2008

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

Undisturbed Love by Liv Carson (Lovely Whatevers)
The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Is The Hand That Rules The World is a poem by William Ross Wallace, (1819-1881) that praises mothers as the preeminent force for change in the world:

Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace,
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;

Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Infancy's the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mother's first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow--

Grow on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Woman, how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!

All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With the worship in the sky--

Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

The title itself is an oft-quoted passage, which has over time been reinterpreted in various ways, particularly in recent times, as a kind of perennial example of a social norm gone awry.

(Source: Wikopedia)


The poem was written from a popular saying and a commonly held principle, when mothers were home not just at the beginning of their child's lives, but to finish the job of nurturing, clear into adulthood. Women were not wanting to leave their homes or children in the care of others. Women were honored and respected because of the job they held in the home. At a time when "the hand that rocks the cradle" maxim was understood, this role was regarded as the greatest mission on earth--a mission that not even a man could really fulfill. The home was the mission field and the women were the teachers and builders of future society.

The most stable families, with mothers who care for their own children, will have a great impact on your country. This may be hard to understand, but to explain briefly: A child brought up in the home, where the mother is free to train him, teach him, and care for him in the home, will have a strong sense of his purpose in life. These children will have a stability that will enable them to be consistent in whatever they do.They will be able to see beyond impairments and beyond limitations. They will be possibility thinkers who can use problems as stepping stones to success. These mothers have the power to make their children productive in their business, honest in their dealings, morally straight, able to have long marriages and non-rebellious children, look after property and have respect for the home and the church and the nation.
It is important that the phrase "the hand that rocks the cradle, " be understood. It was a common expression, before women went into the workforce full time. It does not mean that the "cradle stage" or infant stage of the mother/child relationship ends when the child is no longer in the cradle. The phrase meant that women would have their hand on the upbringing of the child, and see the task to the end.
Whose hand does "rock the cradle" these days? Should anyone be worried that so many women are seeing the wisdom in staying home and guiding their children to the age of adulthood? No, they should be worried that so many young girls are convinced, from an early age, that homemaking is demeaning and unmeaningful, and that mothers at home are second-rate. I remember many girls my age as teenagers. They were in an era where the parents thought it best to send them away during teen years, to fend for themselves. Many of these girls expressed severe loneliness and poverty, from having left home at such an early age.
Teens need their parents almost more than babies. Anyone can change a diaper and bathe a baby, but it takes a mother to counsel a teenager and guide his life rightly. I remember that feeling, at say, 16, when I realized I needed the familiar company of my own parents and family, not the fickle friendships my own age. (Babies need their mother's physical presence: important bonding takes place even in the acts of bathing, changing, and feeding!)Teens need the stability of their families more than they need independence, more than they need money, more than they need education. The hand that rocks the cradle means that the mother will start out rocking the cradle, and raise up a great generation of children who are honoring to their parents and who have a strong sense of duty.
The socialist, the feminist, the marxist, the communist all know this "hand that rocks the cradle" maxim to be true. That is one reason they vie for control of the children at an early age in the child's life. They want to educate them their way and produce people of the same beliefs, to further their agendas. In the Bible, God appointed the parents to teach and protect the children, not the state. (continued later )

Mother and Baby 1869 by Fritz Paulson, Lovely Whatevers

Here is a good explanation, written by David Brandt Berg

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Rules The World

What an important job a mother has! The mothers of the next generation are the ones who are molding the future. Motherhood is just about the greatest calling in the world. Of course, taking care of a baby may not always seem very important, but don’t ever minimize it. Who knows what an impact that child may have on the lives of many others one day?

Motherhood takes the strength of Samson, the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, the faith of Abraham, the insight of Daniel, and the courage and administrative ability of David. It also takes the love of God, that’s for sure! What a job!
The thing that makes a mother so wonderful is her self-sacrificial spirit that is willing to sacrifice her time and strength and even her own health, if necessary, for the sake of that child. Any woman can have a baby, but it takes a real mother to learn how to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6).

Mother and Two Children in a Field Artist: Merse Pal Szinyei, Lovely Whatevers
Although this is posted from a different religious perspective, it makes sense when they say they need to liberate women from their liberators and allow them to come home to take the time that is necessary in building strong, loyal families.
Many women have discovered the importance of being home to help their teenagers.

Mother and Child by Jessie Wilcox-Smith Lovely Whatevers
This story seems to back up the belief that children desire their mothers more than activities and privileges.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this poem and the various interpretations of it.

To your comment about the teen years, I believe strongly that having a mother at home during the teen years is very, very important. Not that these things can truly be compared, but being home when your children are teen may be more important than when children are younger. Teens are capable of getting into much worse trouble for sure.

I also like the new international blogs on the sidebar, looking forward to reading them.

~ Ann

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this!
Even before I came to trust in God's command for keeping a home, I always had a sick feeling in my stomach when someone would say, "The most important time to stay home with the kids is when they are 'such and such an age.'" I always thought, "So they're less important when they are different ages? How does that make sense?"
I love your second-to-last paragraph. :)

Kalianne@BygoneBeauty said...

We have two child care centers on our street. Both take children from as young as 6 weeks. It grieves my heart for these little ones and their families. Thank you for this post. Although I'm not a mother I can see how strengthening and uplifting it would be for those who have made the choice to stay home with their children and teenagers.
~Lady Kalianne

Mrs. Wood said...

Another inspiring message, filled with wisdom and insight, Lydia.

Many teenagers are suffering from the loss of their parents. They are unable to articulate what they feel in their hearts: their parents have lost interest in them. Their parents are often protecting themselves from the pain of ultimately losing them to adulthood. The truth is the more we give of ourselves to our children the less we mourn their departure. When we give fully, they take us with them wherever they go in this world.

It's strange to me how many parents of teenagers do lavish attention on their children, but fail to take care of their basic needs. I know of adolescents from well-off families who rarely get a home-cooked meal and come home to empty houses every day of the week. Teenagers still need healthy food, limitations on television and junk culture, conversation with adults, decent clothes to wear and a calm atmosphere. What good is a fancy college education when your everyday life for years has been barren and uncomfortable? Perhaps many drink their way through college just as a way to forget about it all.

Anonymous said...

The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world. It just means that whoever controls the nation's children, will control the future of that nation. That is why there is such a battle for the children's time.

DarcyLee said...

When I was growing up and as a young wife and mother (before I learned the joy of homeschooling), back in the 70's and 80's, I believed mothers should stay at home with their children until they left for kindergarten, then she could find at least a part-time job while they were in school. I have found out since then that a mother's job is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week-that's how important it is. Thank you for once again encouraging us SAHW and SAHM!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

When it was a popular saying, it was said from the viewpoint that the person that produced the child would determine his future and therefore, the future of the world, by whether he did good or ill. The responsibility was on the mother.

BarbaraLee said...

Nicely said. You would think with all the problems w/daycares parents would get the hint.
People need to get back to simplyer times.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I go through immigration at an international airport and have to write down my occupation, I'm always tempted to write Ruler Of The World :) I never have as don't think that the officials would appreciate my sense of humour! Thank you again for your wonderful blog.

Kalianne@BygoneBeauty said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

Thank you for adding 'Bygone Beauty' to your international blog list. The sense of community I feel at Home Living is a blessing to me. It's wonderful to meet so many other lady homemakers here.

~Lady Kalianne

Sarah R said...

Oh, Lady Lydia. I realize you posted this several days ago, but it spoke to my heart.
I am the mother of a dear girl who is going to turn 13 (!!!) next week. I also do medical coding for a hospital, albeit from home, so I can always be here for my children. This allows me to help my husband with some expenses, but keep my darlings safe with me. Said hospital called me recently to ask if I'd be interested in a management position. While it entailed more money, it also required me to leave my children at home. When I stated, "Thank you for considering me, but I need to be home with my children," the angry reply was, "Aren't they teenagers yet? You don't need to be with them all the time!" Well now, thank you for the parental advice, but I do believe teenagers need just as much guidance as little babies. I seem to remember my teen years (before I was saved) as years of experimenting with things I should have been guarded from, including smoking, drinking, and lots of dating.
Besides, I told my caller, I already have the best management position in the world. I am manager of my own home, of my own children, of my own life. I think I'll stay here where the perks and benefits far outweigh the salary!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Teens need lots of sleep, and they need good meals and they need closeness with their mothers. It is like an older version of the ages from 3-6. It is better to be there and to have a tea party for her and to help her with her clothing care and fix up her room and do special things with her. Friends are fun but they dont' have the depth that a mother has. Working isn't worth leaving your children. Those days of their youth can never be recovered. Work is always there and will always be available. We were told we wouldn't have the experience to get back in the job market if we didnt keep up our skills all those years..but it isn't true.

Mrs. V. said...

Lady Lydia, I love what you just said about teenagers needing lots of sleep. While mine are "pre-teens" I still find it to be true and it is one thing I love about homeschooling. Remember when they were very little and you could always tell when they were having a growth spurt because they would be extra hungry and would sleep more and deeper? Why in the world don't people realize that that does not stop at the age of 2 or 3? Mine are 10 and 12 and I can *still* tell when they are going through a growth spurt just by observing their eating and sleeping. I *love* being able to allow them the sleep they need and the extra "munchies" their growing bodies require. I certainly couldn't do that if I were in an office for 8-10 hours a day and they were in public school all day.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Mrs. V. The comparison is very obvious. I was reading an article about a news reporter in the UK whose daughter, when grown up, said she missed having her mother and would have much preferred she had stayed home. This brings to mind the idea of giving our children some natural choices. When mothers pursue careers, they take that natural choice to be with their mothers, away from them. The child simply has no choice. So the choice ultimately becomes the mother's choice, and while some will say that women who stay home are choosing something "inferior" --the children certainly don't think so, and they will always want their mothers and not be impressed with their mothers accomplishments in the world, as much as they are impressed with the time they spent with them at home. The best thing for children is their parents.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia,

In the interests of full disclosure, I write from a feminist perspective. Despite that, I agree with some aspects of your post (that raising children is a very important job and that teenagers need parental guidance). I obviously disagree with other aspects of your post.

The aspect of your post that contradicts my personal experience the most is when you said: " . . . [children will] not be impressed with their mothers accomplishments in the world, as much as they are impressed with the time they spent with them at home." This struck a chord with me because I vividly remember my mother returning to full-time paid employment outside the home when I was a grade schooler. I was extremely impressed with my mother's actions, and so proud of what she was doing. It was very important to me personally at the time because her example taught me that I could one day also do the things she was doing.

You know how little boys get a sense of positive identity through their fathers' skills and accomplishments? You can just picture a little boy bragging to his friends about how "my daddy is the strongest man in the world," or "my daddy fights fires," or "my daddy cures people's illnesses" right? Well, that's exactly how I felt about my mother's work outside the home. Sure, it would have been fun if my mother and father could have stayed home with me all day long every day, but they both worked and I benefited not only from the material benefits of their jobs but from my pride in their example.

-- Maggie Fox,


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