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?

19 comments:

tonya kappes said...

Funny~last week I was sick and I called my mom! It is amazing how that works...and I'm a mom of four!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

I'm going to be 39 in a couple of days. I am the mother of two. I have a very iffy relationship with my mother.
And yet, when I am really really down, she is the one I call.
Weird.

Dru said...

You are so right, when I'm feeling sick, a call to my mother helps.

Kate Collins said...

And now we know why! It's all about those hormones. Who knew?
I'll bet some people get the opposite effect, though, unfortunately.

Babs said...

Rayna I can relate a bit I am 40 and still call my mom when I need her. I am lucky as the house across from my parents was for sale when my husband and I were looking for one. We have 3 boys and adding a 4th soon and it comes in handy my dad though is the person I call when I need help or want to vent. My mom worked when I had cancer and my dad was the one who left work and would come sit with me thru the chemo treatments and became very close. I still call my mom when I need help and at times I talk to both at the same time ( wonderful use of speaker phone I got them ).

Kate Collins said...

Babs, it's wonderful to hear about fathers' voices, too. They can be the unsung heroes. Congrats on expecting! You'll have your own team, soon.

Manhattan Mandie said...

I call my mom all the time :) If you ask my husband though, he'd say my mom stresses me out too much...

Kate Collins said...

So, kind of a good voice/bad voice thing, huh? ;-) My dad's calls use to stress me out.

signlady217 said...

OMG, I call my mom at least once a week! And I call for all kinds of reasons; happy news, bad news, just because I'm bored, whatever. We even clean out our sewing rooms/offices while we're on the phone! And we both still wish we could call grandma (her mom, she's been gone since 1995).

Babs said...

Kate you are right I will, wish I was expecting but all of our boys are adopted the good part is they are all half brothers. I am hoping their birth mom will have a girl this go around.

Sometimes my mom's calls stress me out as well she is 60 and going back to college so I help her send her homework in and it drives me nuts at times lol.

Rural View said...

One of the many things I miss about my mom is being able to call and talk to her when I feel bad or when I have something exciting to tell. We went through a lot of bad years but then I grew up and we were so close it was great.

Heather Webber said...

What a fascinating study. I wonder what my kids would say! They're still at home, so no need to call. I know they do like to be near me when they're stressed out. And hugs are always good!

Kate Collins said...

It's amazing how children at home can shun your advice or help, but once they're away from home, they turn back to you again. I went through that with my daughter when she was in high school and wondered if we would ever be as close as my mom and I were. Now, we're even closer.

Heather can even testify to how helpful my "little" girl was at Printers Row on Saturday. She took the "L" downtown and did the photography for us.
(That reminds me, I need to put those photos of us up on my Facebook page. Heather, Wendy Lynn Watson, Betty Hechtman and Clare O'Donoghue were on a panel with me.)
I'm so grateful my kids trust my counsel.

Heather Webber said...

I can definitely testify. Kate's daughter was wonderful, and obviously loves her mom very much. :)

I can't wait to see the pictures!

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Terrific post, Kate. My mom's been gone since 1986, but I still hear that wonderful voice and it still helps me.

I am lucky that I talk to my daughters most days, but I don't think I'm soothing! I'll settle for funny.

Maggie Sefton said...

That's a wonderful post, Kate. I know how you feel. My four daughters each call me at different times. And I know how important it is to just "be there" for support. Just to offer the words of encouragement or just be there and to provide a listening ear and loving presence when they need to vent about something.

booklover said...

tomorrow is my 57th birthday, it would have been my parent's 68th wedding anniversary and reading your "Mother's voice" post has brought me to tears...my mom has been gone for almost 25 years; she never got to meet my children, to see me married or to hold my hand one more time. Thank you for this lovely reminder that tomorrow i will miss one very special phone call, one wedding anniversary celebrated a day late due to it being "my day" and one more chance to say, I love you, momma...

Andrea C. said...

My mom knows me better than anyone in the world. She can identify my mood with just a "hello" on the phone. Since the day I went off to college (16 years ago) and never went home for good, my mom is my "go to". When I am excited about something, her voice makes it even more fun and when I am sick or sad, all I want is my mom!
I hope, one day, to be half the mom mine is. My heart reaches out to those of you who have lost your mom or maybe aren't that close. The bond between a mother and a daughter (or son) is amazing!

Kate Collins said...

That mother/child bond is amazing, both for the powerful love it engenders and sometimes, sadly, for the pain it brings when a mother is too critical, judgmental, and overbearing. I've seen examples of those kinds of relationships and my heart breaks for the child who strives to please and never does.

Booklover, I know how you feel. I lost my dad 24 years ago. He never saw any of his grandchildren, and they never got to know a witty, proud, Irish cop.