A reader wrote several years ago to inform me science had proven no maternal bond exists between a mother and her child. Say wha? I assumed that person wasn't delusional. Another possibility is he may have had a seriously deficient childhood.
On Mother's Day especially, I still reflect on his comment, feeling some degree of sympathy since he obviously believed in supposed "science" over the obvious and profound reality of a mother's love and bond with her children.
Look around at this mess of a society we've created on our watch. The Census Bureau says in 2018 mothers were raising about 80 percent of the nation's 11 million single-parent children under 18.
My attempt at what I'll call observational common-sense science has witnessed this maternal bond is evident well before birth. And I believe such loving connections and commitment exist with most adopted children.
The protectiveness generated by a mother can become so intense that children moving toward young adulthood can risk becoming dependent adults after coming to rely on their mothers (fathers to a degree) to step in and resolve their challenges. I've observed that removing all obstacles for a child can risk affecting their sense of self-reliance as they grow into maturity.
That's by no means a criticism of such devoted love and concern. I'm only stating the risk involved in misinterpreting the intense love mothers feel for their child with the natural tendency to try in every way to protect them from life's inevitable challenges.
My brother Grant, sister Gaye and I were fortunate enough to have a mother who loved us unconditionally while at the same time allowing, even encouraging, us to take risks and thereby grow through the many experiences life handed us.
She was never one of those parents who made the mistake of thinking we could do nothing wrong and realizing that when the school called her, it was very likely for something we, rather than our teachers, had done.
Our mother, the late Elaine Hammerschmidt Masterson, was much like one of those white and silver puffy clouds drifting against a pastel blue sky. She had the uncanny ability to float high and wispy above the vicissitudes of daily life, always breezy and positive, never threatening. I'll always believe that was because she and her four siblings was raised in a loving, caring home with a lot of motherly (and fatherly) love and support. Like her father, Art Hammerschmidt, she never met a stranger. Her mother, Junie, was the family's stern yet loving backbone.
That, when combined with mom's affection for others, cheerful personality and deeply spiritual nature, forged what always struck me as a magnificent butterfly in human form.
Elaine finished high school with her twin sister Elizabeth in Harrison where she was a rodeo queen, of all things, then became a war bride at age 18. In that 1940s era, she sprang from a generation where women still managed the home and children and all else that swirled around a husband's career, especially in the military life.
Until drawing her final breath on Dec. 28, 1998, and beset by dementia following several small strokes, she was still pollinating joy and making friends in the nursing home where she passed peacefully. Her possessions after 74 years had boiled down to what fit on a small, wooden bedside table.Her favorite picture of Christ hung above her bed where she could always focus her gaze upon it.
As with most mothers bonded with their children, mine always instinctively understood what to say to me and when to say it. After her death, in sorting through one of those storage boxes most of us have packed with photographs, cards and letters, I found a single-page letter written in hot pink ink (it was so Mom) dated six years earlier.
She always designated certain days of the week by colors. Red was for high-energy days, blue was more subdued and reflective, while yellow and pink meant happiness.
Slumping into a chair, I reflected on the maternal bond she still maintained with her oldest child even after that passage of time. After reading her message several times, I made copies and sent them to my siblings on Valentine's Day that year, knowing they would appreciate hearing from her again.
Here's what Elaine wrote, in part: "I guess this is pink day! Ha! We just talked on the phone a little while ago. I've been thinking about the question you asked. Just remember that nothing ever stays the same from day to day. That is why I always say 'one day at a time.'
"To live in the past can cause depression. To live in the future can create anxiety. I have found that true in my life. So just remember to live a day at a time. Don't worry about anything. I love you always, Mom."
Yes, valued readers, the same science that tells us coffee is bad for us only to say nothing after it determines it's actually not might pronounce no maternal bond exists with children. But a lot of us out here, myself included, aren't buying that.
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at email@example.com.
Editorial on 05/12/2019
Print Headline: MIKE MASTERSON: Undeniable bond