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Mother’s Day motherhood and hormones (05/11/2008)
By Janet Lewis Burns
She's her mother's daughter! So often it is apparent, for good or for bad, that a woman, unawares, becomes a carbon copy of her mother.

Anyone can be a mother, but it takes someone special to be a "mommy." Motherhood - is it all about hormones? To further separate the genders, by raising levels of hormones like estrogen and oxytocin in women, the tending, mothering instinct is enhanced. Also, higher amounts of these hormones in women make them calmer, sociable, and attracted to men (if you get my drift.)

The bond between mother and child is formed during pregnancy. A mother's environment and experiences affect the fetus. Therefore, respect for the gift of a new, vulnerable life favorably begins in the womb. If the world surrounding her is supportive and healthy, a mother's nurturing instinct is more effectual. Within the first few hours of birth infants recognize their mother's voice. Through emotional communication newborns can make their needs known.

I credit my late mother Meta Lewis for her wonderful example of motherhood, a Christian home environment, and for marrying our dad. We laughed often, worshiped regularly, went on many excursions throughout the countryside, and ate lots of banana splits!

There are many things I didn't say to my beloved mother before she was called home in 1979. If she was still with us, what would I be compelled, and less inhibited, to thank her for, now that I've hopefully attained a wiser, more seasoned adulthood?

I would thank her for"¦her shining example in morals and character; her willingness to take the time to listen and to offer kind advice (which I didn't always appreciate); forgiving me for my disrespectful actions; being candid and forthright about the facts of life; keeping our occasional "little secrets" from Dad; the spunk to learn to drive a car at the age of 57.

I would thank Mom for"¦the many picture albums of our family; our adorable baby sister Jean Ann (my dimpled little cherub); sacrifices unselfishly made to keep us dressed in style; suffering in silence during my "crazy about Elvis" obsession; being home after school when I was young; her unmatched recipes (delectable seven-minute icing, savory ham gravy, our traditional Thanksgiving stuffing, and sweet rice.)

All cruelty springs from weakness. Just as love begets love and respect fosters respect, so too does excessive aggression instigate more of the same. It's likely that if a child is raised in an abusive home environment, he or she will display hostile behavior into adulthood.

If a child has a weakness, whether physically, emotionally, or socially, being raised in a risky family can exacerbate inappropriate behavior, as well as illnesses and inhibitions such as shyness. In order to create what has been called "gene-environment interaction," both a genetic risk and a family environment are contributors.

A negative "genetic heritage" along with poor family tending can be a dangerous, if not debilitating combination. Parenting makes a tremendous impacting difference in the person one's offspring will become, and can shape their behavioral patterns for life.

When I glimpse at those old black and white photos of my parents and Pat's folks, love and adoration is rekindled for all they've meant to their families. In our home's recently assembled "library," their essences seem to belong there "¦ alongside words of wisdom, spirit, and insight from so many, forever on the pondering mind that sprang from their influence, virtues, and character.

Mother/daughter bonds are not merely propagated through hormones. The nurturing instinct is born of the heart. Isn't there something you've been meaning to say to her?

A heartwarming Mother's Day to you all!

"Dear Mom and Dad,"

Janet Burns is a lifelong resident of Lewiston. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com. 


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