Mom Physics

I have been married to a mother for 30 years–during which time I selflessly fed her ice chips while she birthed five kids–so I proclaim myself duly qualified to discuss motherhood. One thing I have learned is that not everyone realizes that physics plays a role in motherhood. I even found the equation for it:

FB = q v × B

I did not know this at first, but after living with children for some time, it became clear to me that this formula is inherent in all interactions between moms and their kids. Too complex? Perhaps I should use stories to illustrate.

One time (OK, hundreds of times) I was sitting in the front room when one of my sons walked by–walking with a purpose.
“What do you need? Can I help?” I asked.
“No, it’s nothing. Do you know where Mom is?”
“No. Sorry.”

He tuned and went the other direction. A few moments later he passed by again.
“Can I help you with anything?”
“No, but I can’t find Mom anywhere.”
“Did you look in the washroom?”
“No. I’ll check there.”
And off he went.

A little bit later, I was talking to my wife.
“Hey, our son was looking for you earlier. Did he find you?”
“Yes. I was in the washroom.”
“I offered to help, but he wouldn’t tell me what he wanted.”
“He wanted to know if I thought you would let him go to a friend’s house tonight.”

My thoughts exactly! He bypassed me in order to to ask her a question . . . about me. Who does that? My kids, that’s who.

 This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. I distinctly recall one day when my daughter was young–probably two or three. I heard her begin to cry and went to see what had happened. She emerged from her bedroom, clutching her finger and sobbing. I held out my arms to her and she walked straight towards me. At the last second she veered to the side, walked right past me, and into the kitchen where she found her mom. I was still standing in the hallway wondering what happened. I found them both in the kitchen, my daughter sitting on her mom’s lap, getting love and comfort.

Now I am an involved dad. My kids do not live in fear of me. (Most of the time.) I love them, they love me, and we do really well together. But my wife–their mother–has an unseen advantage over me in the physics department. It is the formula I mentioned earlier.

The physics formula is the equation for magnetism.

Mothers have a sort of magnetic power that pulls their children towards them. Is it spiritual, genetic, chemical, or a combination of them all? I do know that it is real. Any father who has held a crying child on his shoulder and watched as that child reaches desperately for their mom knows what I’m talking about.

When my youngest comes home from school, his first order of business is to search the house until he finds his mom. When one of the kids is sick in the night, they go straight to Mom and wake her up–even when I tell them to wake me up instead. They are drawn to her.

When the kids get older and have deep things to discuss, they are often drawn to Mom for comfort or to talk things through. Sometimes I participate in those conversations whenever they come to me, sometimes they don’t.

There are times when some kids–especially daughters–pull away from their moms. It is as if some sort of polarity is reversed and the magnet begins to repel rather than attract. But hopefully, one force will eventually turn, and the bond will reestablish. (For you guys, think of the Millenium Falcon trying to get out of the tractor beam without enabling hyperdrive.)

By changing the word “fathers” to “mothers,” this idea is founded in the scripture D&C 98:16: “Therefore renounce war and proclaim peace, and seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to their mothers, and the hearts of the mothers to the children.”

Not all mother/child relationships are rosy all the time. Growing and learning requires that, but the pull that comes from a mother’s heart is very real and will always be there.

I love seeing that bond between my wife and our kids. I don’t feel threatened by it. I am grateful. Fathers have a bond too, but it is different–besides, I would prefer they end up with more of her traits than of mine. I am happy they love her, trust her, and feel the “pull”–because I feel it, too. I find it tragic when that bond is lost between moms and children.

I have seen and experienced this same magnetic force across generations. When I was a boy, I had that bond with my mom. She has been gone now for more than a decade–but I still feel the pull. There are so many times I see something and think, “Mom would have loved this.” Or something would happen, and I ask, “I wonder what Mom would have thought about that.” I still miss her, and I still feel her pull. And at 56 years of age–I still want her to be proud of me.

My mother-in-law passed away a few years ago. Before she died, she had a difficult road. I watched as my sweet wife turned towards her and the two of them drew closer as mother and daughter. That bond was never stronger. Service does that to people. Now that she has passed, I sense that pull still working within my wife’s heart. She still wants to feel her mother’s love. She wants to feel that closeness. That pull is still there, even after this life is over.

I’ll concede that this magnetism is not merely physics. But it is very real, and comes from within. President Hinckley said it this way: “God planted within women something divine that expresses itself in quiet strength, in refinement, in peace, in goodness, in virtue, in truth, in love.”

No formulas, no equations, no physics, not even electromagnetism. The force that pulls a child to his mother is love. Not just any love, but a god-like love.

“May each of us treasure this truth; one cannot forget mother and remember God. One cannot remember mother and forget God. Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one.”Thomas S. Monson

Why are we drawn towards our mothers? The same reason we are drawn towards our God: Our spirits desire to be with the divine.


Note: If this post seems familiar, it is because it was published before. Hopefully it is new to some of you, and worth the re-read for the rest.

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  1. I didn’t miss my mother very much when she first died. (I live in Alaska which is far away from everywhere else. So I didn’t see my mother a lot for many years.) But now, the longer she’s been gone, the more I want to call her and tell her about my life. I’m not perfect but I’ve done some things in the last few years that I know would have made her proud of me. When I was younger, I didn’t appreciate Mother’s Day because I always felt guilt at my own imperfections. Today, I was battling tears over my OWN mother and memories. I guess I can’t win on Mother’s Day! It’s just a tearful day for me.

  2. It was new to me. Thank you.

    Of our 7 FOOLs (Fruits of OUR Loins… hahahahaha I crack myself up) all were magnetized to their Mother, except for one. Daughter number three was connected to me. My lullabies were the only ones she’d fall asleep to, I was her consolation when she was sad and source of wisdom when she was ready for parental input.

    What you shared resonates so profoundly for me because my wife struggled with the role reversal. It very literally hurt her because her heart yearned to be that connection for our daughter.

    It makes me wonder if that magnetic polarization works both directions.

    Again, thank you.

  3. I have read this post and will never ever tire of it. I am completely aware of this pull with my own children and my own mother. I don’t think most fathers understand this as much as you do. Thanks for an uplifting post, as usual.

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