Purcell: The comfort from Mom

Published 12:40 pm Friday, May 7, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Scientific American describes my mother to a T.

An article titled “The Incredible Importance of Mothers,” by social scientist Melanie Tannenbaum, lays out the argument that a mother’s comfort — not just meeting basic needs, such as providing food and shelter — is essential to the development and wellbeing of children.

Tannenbaum cites the work of social scientist John Bowlby, who in the 1950s “determined that our attachment to parental figures (in particular, he argued, to mothers) plays a huge, critical role in our ability to learn, grow, and develop healthy adult relationships.”

She also cites the work of psychologist Harry Harlow, who was strongly influenced by Bowlby’s attachment theory. Harlow believed that we humans have a core motivation for love and affection as children and that a mother’s comfort is what develops our sense of security — which is the key to living a happy, productive and well-adjusted life.

I have many fond memories of being comforted by my mother.

I’m the third child and only boy in a family of six children, so there was a lot of competition for my mother’s attention.

But I vividly remember one warm, sunny spring day while my two older sisters were at school and I got to have my mother all to myself.

I must have been four at the time and she was pregnant with my sister, Lisa.

As I played with my red wagon, which I loved, she was whistling as she tended to the flowers in the backyard.

She was happy by nature and loved to whistle — a skill she learned from her father and passed down to me.

I remember being completely content because she was nearby, comforting me with her sunny presence, as I was left free to roam and explore the art of playing.

I was very lucky to grow up as I did at a time when even a large family could get by on one income.

This allowed my mother to stay home, live her dream of having a big family and devote her entire life to caring for and comforting her children.

Her extended family is still blessed daily by her comforting skills.

She has 17 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren and her home is a wonderland to each of them — a place of unconditional love and laughter.

At her 80th birthday party four years ago, all of her family members shared stories about how her nurturing and love had touched their lives in a video masterfully edited by one of my nephews.

It was eye-opening — and at times laugh-out-loud funny — to see the profound and varied impact she has had on each of us.

I’m extremely blessed to still have my mother in my life — still comforting me when the challenges and setbacks of life affect me.

She still cheers me on when the risks that I take in business — risks I’m able to take because of the deep sense of security she and my father gave me — blossom into success.

Since the beginning of time, the love and comfort of mothers has been the key to all things great and good in the world — the very best gift a mother can give to her child.

I hope and pray every child can be as comforted as my mother still comforts me.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood,” a humorous memoir available at amazon.com, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc. Send comments to Tom at tom@tompurcell.com.