Moms are amazing. They birth babies. They make milk. They keep their household humming.
But spiders are pretty savvy, too. They spin silk. They weave webs. They provide for public pest control.
I’m not saying spiders are smarter than moms, but many mothers — myself included — could learn a few things from spiders in general and from one spider in particular: Charlotte A. Cavatica, the extraordinary and especial friend of Wilbur the Pig.
Life is Full of Changes
The sooner we accept this fact, the better. Seasons change. Circumstances change. Friends come and go. We grow older. Children leave home. Time passes. There is no stopping it.
Charlotte lived her life to the fullest, savoring the small pleasures each day presented. She chose to be grateful for what she had instead of resentful over what she lacked. Shouldn’t we do the same?
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss
The Work Never Ends
A spider doesn’t build one web and expect it to last forever. She knows her work must be done and redone (sort of like laundry and housecleaning), and she labors at it without complaint.
This is the nature of both life and work: both call for much repetition. Grumbling about that fact does not make the tasks any easier.
“Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” – Colossians 3:23
Calm Begets Calm
When Wilbur first learned that he was destined for Zuckerman’s dinner table, he went immediately and understandably berserk. His hysterics might have worked the entire farmyard into a frenzy had Charlotte’s coolheaded composure not diffused the situation. Her confident reassurances helped soothe the pig’s nerves and settle him down.
That’s the sort of woman I want to be: not one who is easily agitated or upset, but one whose presence calms and comforts everyone around me.
“Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.”
– Michael Caine
Worrying Won’t Solve Anything
Worrying may be many mothers’ modus operandi, but it accomplishes nothing except to make yourself and everyone around you miserable. And to what end? “Which of you, by worrying, can add a single moment to your life?” (Luke 12:25)
Charlotte told Wilbur — just as Jesus tells us — to STOP worrying. She would save him; he needn’t fret or despair. She suggested Wilbur attend instead to matters over which he exercised some measure of control: he should eat well, chew slowly, get plenty of sleep, and keep fit (all very good advice, indeed).
She assured him it would all work out. She would find a solution. He could sleep in peace. And to the degree Wilbur was able to trust her promises, he was able to rest undisturbed.
“Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” – Philippians 4:6
Patience Is a Virtue
Charlotte was no slacker. She was a meticulous craftsman, versatile and industrious. She knew how to work.
But she also knew how to wait. She didn’t expect immediate results or instant gratification. Even after her web was spun and her trap was set, she realized it might be awhile before some stray bug became ensnared in it. But she was content to wait. She was patient.
She tackled Wilbur’s problem in that same methodical, unhurried manner. She thought about it. She mulled it over. She gave it careful consideration. She slept on it. She hung upside down, so her blood would go to her brain, and patiently waited for an idea to come. She fully expected a solution would eventually occur to her. And in time, it did.
We live in a culture that worships speed. We want everything, and we want it now. But faster is not necessarily better. Those things we gain instantly and with little effort are seldom as satisfying as those for which we must work and wait.
Waiting builds patience. Patience is good. And the most important things in life take time.
“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” – John Quincy Adams
Mind What Matters Most
Like other spiders, Charlotte could spin silk with five times the tensile strength of steel (pound for pound). With it, she constructed webs that were absolute marvels of engineering. With the webs, she fought against all manner of menaces to society: pesky flies, disease-spreading mosquitoes, and various other annoying insects.
But unlike other spiders, Charlotte was also a good speller. She wrote words that attracted the attention of folks far and wide. The messages she worked into her webs were photographed and publicized in headline news. And the entire ploy allowed her to strategically and single-handedly save the life of her endangered friend.
Yet in Charlotte’s estimation, all these other accomplishments paled in comparison to the importance of giving life to the next generation. She recognized that soft, white, inconspicuous egg sac for what it truly was — her most lasting achievement, her greatest work, her magnum opus.
And here again, Charlotte was right on target.
“Many people want to leave a better world for their children. I’m trying to leave better children for my world.” – Carlos Slim
I had hoped to publish this post on Mother’s Day, but I was too busy mothering to finish it in time. Instead of writing,I was taking family bike rides, cheering at basketball games, bandaging boo-boos, and tutoring math. I was folding laundry, preparing meals, sweeping floors, and shopping for groceries. I was reading stories, giving baths, rubbing backs, and singing lullabies. And I was spending alone-time with my husband, in hopes of maybe even conceiving again!
In other words, I was doing all those things mothers do that normally go unnoticed: Things that seldom make national headlines or attract public attention. Stuff that — unless I photograph, tweet, or update my status — won’t get liked on Facebook or pinned on Pinterest.
These tasks, taken individually, appear rather ordinary and mundane. But cumulatively, they amount to my most important work of all.
And doesn’t that job deserve to be done with my whole heart?
Felis Cattus says
7: Flies are delicious
Jennifer Flanders says
Although, as all good fans of Charlotte’s Web can tell you, spiders don’t actually eat flies — they just drink their blood. (I’ve never had any trouble remembering that fact myself, so I didn’t bother to include it on my original list).
Rick Warner says
Good story it never pays to be fast at life or anything for that matter. Thanks for your words of wisdom.
Betty Huffman says
Thank you for this gentle reminder that our life as a mother/wife (sister/daugther, etc.) is MUCH more valuable than worldly successes and accomplishments, and that there are greater rewards in the investments you make daily to your children, husband, and family memebers. You are wise FAR beyond your years (not that I know how old your are! Lol!). 😀
Thank you for this article. Chock full of wisdom & great reminders we all need to hear! I loved this childhood story too; I may have to make time to reread it & experience its excitement, joys & sorrows once again.
Also love your blog too, Jennifer! You are a blessing to your readers! Thank you! God bless you & your family!
I simply love this article! It is so very true. Thank you so much