• Eric Tyler, MD

Are You My Mother?

The night time routine at my house focused on books after bath and brush. Three girls had opinions as to the books that would be read and the order of their reading. There were favorites that they could recite after the 20th reading. One of their favorite books was, “Are you my Mother”. It is the story of a small bird that got separated from its mother and the quest to find its Mother that ensued. The baby bird was perhaps not well versed in the world about it but it was bold none the less. It walked up to many candidates with always the same question, “Are you my Mother?” The response was usually, “No, I am a _____.” My daughter’s favorite was when the bird asked a steam shovel the question as the response made them laugh, ”No, I am a SNORT.” All good children’s books have a happy ending thus when the baby bird found its Mother, there were hugs and comforting clucking in the book and hugs of reassurance on the life side of that equation.

The book resonates as the search for Mother starts for all mammals soon after birth. There is a wonderful video from a Scandinavian country that captures a moment soon after birth as a baby is placed on the lower abdomen of the Mother. In about five minutes, it crosses the territory finding and latching to the breast. In that first special moment when Mom and baby meet in extra-uterine life, babies show their vulnerability and total dependence on their Mother and Mothers fall in love with their baby receiving from God the vision of the adult that baby will become. That vision is to guide and sustain the Mom as the path to adulthood is traversed.

My daughters used to play what I called, “Momma tag” every day. This reflects the living application of the book as children need constant reassurance of the presence of their Mothers. Fran would be in a location in the house. They would be in another location. Every fifteen minutes, the children would run through the house screaming, “Momma” until they found her exactly where she had been fifteen minutes prior. They would share some usually incredible tale they made up and would be on their way.

This is Mother’s Day Eve for 2019. It is a wonderful time to celebrate the Mothers in the world that have:

Allowed their bodies to be invaded by a not so friendly parasite for nine months.

Endured the intense pain of the entrance into the world.

For the ten thousand feedings, diaper changes, sleep disturbed night endured with a knowledge of the long term benefits for always being there for their baby.

For the patience required to teach another human sixty percent of their data base by their sixth year.

For the ability to find joy in the small milestones met along the path to maturity.

For the laundry washed, the food prepared, the fights refereed, the answers to incessant questions, the constant battle waged against clutter.

For teaching thought processes, mistake management, and the points on the moral compass.

For walking through the disappointments of not making teams, broken hearts, girl drama and boy stuff.

For the payback found sharing pictures of wardrobe demands at age 14 with them at 24.

For saving their lives ten thousand times as they were always running towards their own deaths

For the huge cost of loving them enough to let them drive to school soon after sixteen wondering what happened to the Cozy Coupe?

For enduring the selection of the path of the second chapter of their lives and the courage to help launch their lives to sail off into the unknown to follow their own dreams.

For the way that Mothers always worry about the safety, happiness and direction of and trajectory of the lives of their children. Motherhood is truly a, “Life without parole.” sort of relationship.

How thankful are we all for the sacrifice of the ones who try so hard.

What happens when the early even basic needs of that baby are not met?

That point was brought into focus recently by a picture drawn by a three year old female in my practice. When children draw pictures, they always draw to scale of the magnitude of importance.

As you look at this picture, the object on the Mother’s right hand is her cellphone.

Electronic media can consume the precious commodity of a time impoverished Mother at the expense of walking through life with those who need constant reassurance that Mom is still there and still cares.

“Distracted Parenting” is the eponym for this process. It costs as much as distracted driving in terms of loss of lives at swimming pools or walking in traffic. The burden is far greater as neglected children begin to walk around with the poignant question’ “Are you my Mother?” to things that should never be so considered.

Basic needs unmet that harm the developing child’s brains.

High risk behavior that provides a brief moment of the feelings of closeness.

The search for unconditional acceptance in a harsh and unforgiving world.

Worst of all, poising that same question to the 2019 “Snort”, the cell phone itself found now in the hands of two year olds as it is much easier to provide the dark rectangle with the mirage of power than to invest with time and love so that child can find the real power of a flesh and blood relationship with its human creator that cares constantly.

To all the Mothers that have walked this path, thank you for the price you paid so dearly with such grace and dignity.

There is no substitute for a flesh and blood real-live Mother even when she is having a bad day.

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