Monday, June 14, 2010

A Mom's Voice


I saw an article in the newspaper a while back about the healing powers of a mother’s voice. Scientists have previously measured the chemical responses to a mother’s hug or kiss, showing how levels of hormones involved with trust and love shoot upward and stress hormones drop. A new study, however, proves that just hearing a mother’s voice can generate the same reaction, even when the voice is on the phone.

The scientists also measured the hormone oxytocin, responsible for helping moms bond with their infants, and found that oxytocin levels spiked sharply in girls who saw their mothers after a stressful event, proving that a hug or even a pat on the back was good medicine.

I could have told those scientists that a long time ago. When I was in college and away from home, who was the first to know if my throat hurt? Not a friend. My mom. Somehow, calling her and telling her about it made it feel better even before I took the advice she gave me. “Gargle with salt water, honey.” Done. Ahh. All better. Even if I wasn’t better, I felt reassured that all would be well again soon.

I continued to call my mom when I was sick even when my own kids were little. It was as though once Mom knew, then I could get better. Strange, isn't it?

Now my daughter calls me in the same fashion. She probably knows what to do for a sore throat, too, but hearing my voice reassures her in the same way that my mom’s voice did.

I no longer have Mom to call, yet there are times when I still find myself wanting to reach for the phone, needing to hear her voice telling me that everything will be okay.

I hope someday scientists will measure the reactions from dad’s voices, too. I suspect a loving, understanding father would generate a similar effect. Wouldn’t you? (And some parents’ voices may have just the opposite effect.)

Do you have a healing voice? Do you still call your mom when you’re under stress?