While this is some pretty controversial and not-yet-fully-fleshed-out information, if your mom is a total asshole, this might solve a few mysteries for you! Researchers at the Rockefeller University in New York have been studying female mice with babies for clues as to what activates the maternal instinct, and found they're primarily triggered by the ER alpha levels in the preoptic area of the brain. The level of this specific estrogen receptor is produced genetically in both mice and humans at individual levels, and is even being cited as the reason for some women's "biological clocks" working overtime while others are basically just cheap, broken McDonald's Happy Meal watches.
When scientists surpressed these ER alpha levels in the mice's brains, they observed that the mouse moms spent less time licking, nurturing and caring for their progeny, not even bothering to protect them from predators. One of the lead researchers asserted that "without this gene, the skills to be ‘a good mom' [are] lost." Interestingly, in addition to somehow acquiring a tiny cigarette and thimble of Chardonnay and essentially morphing into rodent Betty Drapers, the mice with decreased ER alpha levels also showed less interest in sex.
As this is a new breakthrough in the nature vs. nurture debate, the study will clearly lead to a whole hullabaloo about what makes a good mother in the first place and whose job it is to say so. Melissa Lawrence, one of the genetically-"blessed" women in the news report and founder of Cloud Mom, frets aloud: "I worry that it could almost invite us to look at someone that does something differently than we do and say 'She doesn't have the ‘mommy gene."
Um, yeah, not to mention the fucking maelstrom of self-doubt a future mom might feel if she discovered she had low levels of the estrogen receptor. As if there weren't already enough pressures that accompany motherhood. Sigh.
The mice have no comment at the moment, but expect them to start blogs and engage in the Mommy Wars imminently.
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