By Annette Ermshar
Special to the News-Press
As Mother’s Day approaches, we are reminded of the remarkable individuals who have inspired us and shaped our lives. Mothers are the backbone of the family, our local superheroes, and their unwavering love and dedication often go unrecognized. This special day is an opportunity to express gratitude and appreciation for all that they do.
Did you know …
- Mother’s Day was made an official holiday on May 9, 1914, when President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation declaring it so. However, the idea began in 1908 when Anna Jarvis decided to honor her own mother and name the day Mother’s Day to show appreciation for her tireless work serving moms after the Civil War.
- A woman’s brain shrinks by 6-8% during pregnancy and yet becomes sharper through the process of building and fine-tuning new neurons which improves brain functioning and prepares one for motherhood. Among these positive changes are increases in oxytocin receptors to bond with the baby, increases in IQ, and more sensory functions such as an increase in sense of smell and facial recognition.
- In the first two months of a baby’s life, the mother experiences synaptic pruning in the brain, which helps to create more efficient brain circuits to synchronize with the baby’s brain. This includes an increase in focus in the amygdala, the structure known as the emotion and memory center of the brain.
- Mothers are also biologically more sensitive to high-pitched noises in order to orient them to their baby crying. When a baby cries, mothers’ brains are activated in the motor areas to move or speak, in the temporal areas that process sound, and in the frontal area of the brain related to communication.
- A research study from Washington University School of Medicine found that children who received warm, maternal nurturing in early childhood developed a larger hippocampus, the structure of the brain responsible for learning and memory.
- The fetal heart races faster when it hears a mother’s voice vs. a stranger’s voice. A mother’s voice also reduces a child’s level of stress as much as a hug, and the sound of a mother’s voice reduces a child’s stress hormone (cortisol), and increases their level of oxytocin, a hormone associated with love and bonding.
Mothers come in all types. Some are stay-at-home moms who dedicate themselves fully to their children and household, while others juggle a demanding career as well as their parenting responsibilities. Some are single mothers who bravely navigate the challenges of raising children on their own, while others are part of a supportive partnership or family. There are many mothers who struggle with financial hardship, mental health challenges, and other hardships that can make parenting even more difficult. Regardless of their individual circumstances, all mothers share a common bond. They know what it means to love unconditionally and to put their children’s needs before their own. They have an innate ability to comfort, console, inspire, and provide unwavering support and encouragement, all of which are so foundational to their child’s development and success.
As we celebrate Mother’s Day, let us take a moment to recognize the many ways that our mothers have impacted our lives, including their countless sacrifices, endless love and unwavering support. We also remember the many mothers who are no longer with us. Their legacy lives on through the memories, lessons and love that they have imparted.
While the traditional gifts of flowers, cards, and dinner at a nice restaurant are appreciated by our mothers, here are some nontraditional gift suggestions to show them how special they are. You can visit a local memorable place that you frequented together, print and frame a recent photo of you two as a keepsake, make a video collage of photos to share online and with loved ones, or create a video tribute describing the memories and cherished moments that have touched your life because of them.
As President Abraham Lincoln once said, “All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” With deep gratitude and appreciation, we say happy Mother’s Day to all our local superheroes who make the world a better place, one child at a time.
Ermshar, CEO of Dr. Ermshar & Associates, is a clinical neuropsychologist and holds a Ph.D. Her Pasadena-based private practice focuses on psychological assessment and treatment, neuropsychology and forensic psychology, and she has served as an expert consultant for television and media.
First published in the May 13 print issues of the Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader.