Monday, February 4, 2013

The Importance of Motherhood

I stopped by a local health food store yesterday in order to procure a few teething remedies for my fussy baby. As I stood there surveying the options, a friendly, older gentleman struck up a conversation with me.

 "You're a good mom," he opened, with a slight smile.

Thrown off a little by the profound statement uttered from a man who had observed me all of 30 seconds, I answered, "Thanks, I had a wonderful mom, so that helps."

He looked thoughtful. "My mom was terrible."

"Oh?"

"Yeah, she left us when I was really little with my dad."

"So your dad raised you?"

"Oh heavens no!" he smiled again,"He remarried again to my step mom."

"Was she any good?" I asked, sensing he welcomed strangers prying into his personal matters.

"No, in fact, when she died, I said, 'Ding Dong! The witch is dead!' "

I told him I was sorry, not seeing how else you follow a statement like that.

"Yeah," he sighed, "I'm sixty-eight & I still deal with the issues that stem from a hard childhood."

I pondered this as I considered the different brands of Clove Oil. Holding Ezra a little tighter in his Ergo carrier, I waved goodbye to the gentleman & checked out.

And then I really got to thinking.

I thought about my mom & how, growing up, I knew she was security, warmth, kindness, love, & confidence.

By five or six, I was sure a "best mom award" existed & my mom was a contender. And not because she sewed princess dresses from scratch, or let me invite every kid in my class to my birthday party, in order to not exclude anyone, but it was because she loved me & I felt it.

I knew in my heart I could never lose her love. I didn't have to earn it- it was just there because I was hers.

Psychiatrist John Bowlby, coined the term "maternal deprivation" in order to share his findings on the effects of separating infants and young children from their nurturer in post-World War II Europe. He concluded that a child needs a relationship that is warm, intimate & continual, which both the mother or mother substitute and child enjoy. Furthermore, children deprived of this type of relationship will potentially suffer negative emotional, developmental & psychological outcomes (click here for the full article ).

My parents started fostering children when I was ten. As a result, they were required to take classes on parenting each year to renew their license. I remember my mom always took a class on bonding with children and every year she came home uttering the same statement- the first two years are detrimental in a child's life. 

Being nurtured by a mother or caregiver in the first two years can change the course of a child's life forever.

The closest earthly cause to my heart are orphans & foster children because I know how unexplainably beautiful it was to have a mother as a child.

And I tear up every time I think about my adopted brothers & how they were snatched out of a drug addicted environment as babies in order to experience the same loving nurturer I did. In orphanages around the world, the ratio of workers to babies is often so low that babies' basic needs are only met, and nurturing is almost entirely withheld. Specifically, in the '90's, pictures of Romanian orphanages were released where children were malnourished, hosed down with cold water, and left in their cribs.

Many rushed to adopt these poor, helpless babes. BBC released a special following the adopted children 21 years after their rescue & adoption. Some were thankfully doing well, but, sadly, others were not. Our close family friends adopted one of these sweet children. He never really recovered and now, in his twenties, mental illness has caused him to spend much of his time homeless.

Children can recover from a hard first couple of years- they are resilient. But even those that recover often feel the scars that maternal deprivation causes.

I say all this to remind mothers how important they are to their babies & society. Every time you nurture your child, you are building a relationship of trust & love that creates a solid foundation for their future.

When it seems you've done nothing that day but change a hundred diapers & sing the itsy-bitsy spider over & over, you are making all the difference.

My prayer is that you will recognize the importance of your role as mother in this life & value your role as much as your child(ren) value you.

So that when your child becomes a sixty-eight year old man & he sees a young mother kissing & holding her baby, he will be reminded of you & how much you loved him.





My mom & I with my baby, Ezra.

3 comments:

  1. LOVE this Krisann. Brought me to tears. I am so thankful to be raised the way I was with such a loving mother. And Piper already looks at me differently than anyone else! How can I deny that little girl my love? Thanks for sharing about yourself and sweet Ezra!

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  2. Beautiful! Had me crying as well. Studying child development and working with families in which children were neglected and mistreated has made this topic close to my heart too. It's always good to have a reminder of how much of a difference we are making simply by loving our babies and being with them. Thanks:)

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