Noticing new maternal connections

Published 7:06 pm Saturday, May 9, 2015

Which parent has a greater effect on a child’s development? I suspect the answer to that question is different from family to family — perhaps even from one child to the next within the same family.

Different people connect in different ways and those connections become weaker or stronger, more or less significant, at various times of one’s life, so a weaker connection between one parent and one child can grow into a strong and important one in later years. On the other hand, the parent one child gets closest to isn’t always the parent he stays closest to when he’s an adult.

I got to thinking about this when I read an email about a survey this week by Visiting Angels, a company that provides in-home senior care. It seems that, based on a national survey of 300 adults, if Mother’s Day and Father’s Day fell on the same day, 78 percent of the respondents said they would choose to celebrate their mothers over their fathers.

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The press release also stated that more phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year. For the poor father who happens to pick up the house phone (only parents still have those), the conversation very likely goes something like this: “Hello?” “Hi, Dad. Is Mom there?”

The same survey revealed that 77 percent of respondents (equally divided between men and women to remove any gender-based pro-Mom bias) would prefer to speak to Mom, even if it weren’t her day. As if Dad didn’t already know that.

I grew up hearing how much I looked like my father. Even Saturday, 15 years after his death, I heard it — and from my wife, no less, who has only ever seen him in photos. So I never really thought about my connections to my mother until my father was gone. We have always been very close, but I’d heard how much I looked like Dad so often that I’d just kind of figured I was like him in most other ways, too.

Dad gave me my dashing good looks, but Mom gave me my occasionally sharp wit and mischievous nature. Mom has taught me generosity, compassion and forgiveness.

Dad taught me to be a man, and Mom smoothed the inevitable rough edges that resulted.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mother, to my wife and to all the mothers out there who have sacrificed so much and loved so well. I hope you all get calls, cards and serious spoiling from your children. And don’t worry about Dad. He’s a tough guy. Besides, his day is coming soon.