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You can't put a price on a mother's love. Her work's another matter.

Chris Erskine wonders why everyone makes such a big deal about mothers

I don't get the big fuss over moms. Seriously, they are the most common things. Most everyone has one. Some people have two or three, depending on marriage, remarriage and re-remarriage.

Chipmunks have mothers, horses have mothers, even mothers have mothers.

Yes, we've reached the saturation point when it comes to mothers. Look around. Moms are everywhere, common as criminals, critical as critics, on the front lines of American life itself.

I mean, who put them in charge?

Motherhood is a relentlessly hot topic in magazines and on talk shows — this week more than most. On Sunday, we'll shower them with flowers and candy, brunches and drippy cards, the whole mother lode of easy last-minute gifts.

Obviously, there's still a tendency to worship moms. Why? Beats me.

"Comb your hair! Drink your milk! Watch your tongue! Walk the dog!"

If you want the truth, moms scare me. They are fearless and overcommitted, especially when it comes to kids. There is something frightening about their unconditional love. It shows a foolish fortitude. A mother's heart is lethal — bigger and more powerful than anything the military owns.

Don't know about you, but that scares me. A mother's love is the most nuclear thing in the American arsenal. A mom gives (and soaks up) love to an almost selfish degree.

Let me give you an example: We have one in our house. The kids have pet names for her: Mom, or Mims, or Mommy Salami ... Posh or Slosh ... Fred, Flo, Ginger, Yo.

She answers to almost any of them.

They are a bunch of wise guys, her kids, yet their mother will still rescue them when they are sick, or too drunk to drive, or heartbroken or broke — sometimes all in a single Saturday night.

At no time in their lives will they find someone — a lover, a spouse, a lunatic, a lawyer — committed enough to do all those things.

If some kid calls me at 2 a.m., I tell them: "Good luck. Maybe you shouldn't have been out at 2 a.m. in the first place."

Click.

So instead they call her, their ultimate guardian angel, their last great hope in a cold and cruel world.

Yep, they are on the front lines of everyday life, mothers are. More than teachers, or civil codes, or Bibles or priests, mothers are responsible for our nation's sense of decency. That'd make me nuts too.

Some lead by example, others lead with a kick in the caboose. Whatever works.

"Chew your food! Sit up straight! Do your math! Wipe your chin!"

Moms rule because they manage to operate without insane levels of ego, hubris or covert, unseemly intentions. They seem to draw on salt mines of strength, core muscles made of oak. They were Zen before Zen was born.

For instance, the other day, the little guy accidentally got his cellphone caught in his mother's hair.

There he is, waving it around, doing some goofy, animated 12-year-old shtick — probably an impression of me — and before he knows it, the cheap hand-me-down cellphone we just gave him is completely tangled in his mother's mane.

A lot of people would've killed him on the spot, but to his mother's credit, she didn't kill him at all. Sure, there were some severe repercussions: a bit of screaming, scissors, tears, apologies, gin. For a moment, I thought she might take him deep into the forest or dump him in the sea.

But to her credit, the little boy still lives, without a cellphone but with a mother who obviously loves him to an almost pathological degree.

Like I said, they're all a little nuts — the good moms especially. They're like characters in a satirical novel, the Catch-22 of love. I mean, only a crazy person would sign up for such warfare.

A recent study found that the value of a mother's work is $65,284 per year, up 9.1% over two years earlier.

Insure.com based its Mother's Day Index on government wage statistics for the various tasks a mother performs.

The marketing company also asked 1,000 married men and women, ages 25 and up, what mothers should get paid annually for the work they do. Almost 10% said more than $200,000. A nervy 2% said mothers should get nothing at all.

Which, as history shows, is exactly what they've been paid forever.

Look, moms don't want your money; all they seek is a little corner of your soul.

See, told you they were selfish.

chris.erskine@latimes.com

Twitter: @erskinetimes

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