Pal of my cradle days – an ode to mothers

INFAMOUS for the ridiculous, mothers can often be heard saying “There’s enough dirt in those ears to grow spuds,” or “Close that door. You’d think you were born in a field.” And they’re also partial to claiming the down-right-impossible: “If you fall of that wall and break your legs – don’t come running to me.” Yet, few would doubt a mother’s well-meaning intent.

They are the ones who love us when the rest of the world doesn’t. The ones we off load our troubles. And the ones who fight our corner tooth and nail regardless of consequence or the incidental matter if whether we were in the right or not – because love knows no pride.

In return, we steal the ‘gold from their hair’ and ‘put the silver threads there’ as the words of that once popular song goes.

While having a baby may well be an overnight event, for many women the skill of motherhood takes time to develop and patience to nurture. The process can often be more of a slow crawl for many. However, the moment a mother catches herself thinking: “I hope Ketchup is a vegetable because it’s the only one my child eats,” or she begins to consider finger paint as a controlled substance – and the sobering realisation that motherhood has finally dawned.

While without much fanfare, this momentous occasion is usually coupled with hearing your own mother’s voice when you shout: “Not in your good clothes,” or when you catch yourself covering your three-year-olds eyes during the scene in the movie, Lion King when Simba mourns the loss of his father, Mufasa… and you’re already questioning the moral standing of the person who awarded the movie classification.

Then one day you find yourself failing to criticise the way your mother reared you, and you welcome in the dawn of a new era of wisdom. Again, this happens around the same time as you find yourself repeatedly hiding in the bathroom because it’s the only place where you can grab five minutes to be alone.

You never thought you’d do it but, if another child throws up at a birthday party you just get on with eating your sandwich but if it’s your own child throwing up you catch it in your hand, if you have too, or your band new designer handbag – whatever is closest. The possibility of them needing urgent medical attention is not that outrageous either, is it?

The bond between a mother and her child is one of the most powerful our world can ever know. We only need to look at how much bitter anguish the Blessed Virgin Mary suffered by compassion when she nursed her only son next to her after his body was taken down from the cross on Good Friday.

We often hear that we always carry our children in our hearts but a recent study has revealed this is true on a physical level too. Sometimes science can be filled with wonder and meaning more beautiful than any poem.

It has been proven that cells from a developing baby in the womb cross the placenta, allowing the baby’s DNA to become part of the mother’s organs. These foetal cells persist within her right through to her old age. This is true even if the baby she carried didn’t live long enough to be born. The cells of that child stay with her, resonating in ways that mothers have always known intuitively throughout time. Foetal cells that you contributed to your own mother may be found in her blood, bone marrow, skin, kidney or liver. These cells also appear to possess healing properties and can treat her when she is ill or injured. Researchers noticed the presence of these cells in women diagnosed with illnesses such as Thyroid or Hepatitis C.

In one particular case, a woman stopped treatment against medical advice. A liver biopsy showed “thousands of male cells” determined to be from a pregnancy terminated nearly 20 years earlier, seemed to naturally rush to an area where they were needed to aid her recovery.

There is also evidence that foetal cells provide some protection against certain cancers. For example, they’re much more prevalent in the breast tissue of healthy women than in those with breast cancer. Foetal cells are less common in woman who develop Alzheimer’s, suggesting they provide protection late into life. They can even help heal her heart.

These cells, it has been shown, carry the imprint of her child’s father and his entire family line. They can also be shared from one pregnancy to another meaning the cells of older siblings may float within younger siblings – leaving us with plenty to ponder upon.

Isn’t it a beautiful expression of the divine creation, proving love is the most powerful force on earth. It is tangible proof that this family bond can melt the hardest of hearts, excuse an untidy bedroom or two or overlook the odd temper-tantrum?

Which brings us to the rest of the lyrics of that old song we talked about at the beginning. “I don’t know any way, I could ever repay, pal of my cradle days.”