Mothering babies might not seem what it used to be. We seem to see growing instances of mothers who abuse or abandon their children, whether leaving them alone at home or in hot car seats.
We still hear news about spectacular cases such as that of a Texas woman, who with her common-law husband strangled and decapitated her three children. Although her defense attorney has asserted she was insane, or retarded, or temporarily insane, it appears Angela Camacho of Brownsville will face trial next month on capital murder charges. Similar incidents are known of mothers who killed their children or showed complete disregard for their welfare.
Now come the results of a study conducted by the Population Research Laboratory at the University of Alberta, which simply observed more than 400 parent-child interactions at supermarkets. The results indicate that better-looking children get better treatment. Those who don’t have happy, cherubic faces are less likely to be buckled in to safety straps and more likely to be ignored or allowed to run unattended to other parts of the stores.
The actual study hasn’t been released, so it’s hard to know if the observers ascertained that the adults in each case were the parents, and not relatives or babysitters. Nor do we know how it was ascertained that shiny, happy children simply got better treatment or if they were so adorable and happy because they got better care in the first place.
To be sure, some mothers mistreat or neglect their children, but in many more cases we have seen the devotion that mothers have for all their children, regardless of looks or behavior. We’ve all seen the looks of worry from mothers whose children are missing or injured; the cries for justice when children have been wronged; the faces filled with anguish when a son has come home from war in a flag-shaped casket, and the unbridled joy when another son arrives from the same war healthy and safe.
Many of our top citizens, whether in the political, social or business arenas, owe much of their success to their mothers, who knew when to offer a word of encouragement and when a stern admonition was more appropriate. Most of us were also influenced by the examples our mothers set for perseverance, hard work and cooperation.
This positive view of mothers obviously is the majority view. More flowers, cards and candy are bought for Mother’s Day than for any other commemoration or holiday.
Along the U.S.-Mexico border many people celebrate Mother’s Day twice — on the second Sunday in May, as prescribed by the U.S. government, and on May 10, which is the traditional day to honor moms in Mexico, regardless of the day on which it falls. Many people assert their mothers deserve the double commemoration.
On this Mother’s Day we honor all the people who have proven their overriding love for their children, and recognize that the sensational cases of bad parenting might be more memorable, but clearly comprise a small minority of maternal relationships.
After all, there are obviously many more good mothers out there than there are pretty sons and daughters.