Inside the new science of our ancient maternal instinct
By Abigail Tucker
As a journalist and young mother, Abigail Tucker wanted scientific evidence that females of our species have a maternal instinct. Yet after speaking with dozens of scientists around the world, a clear biochemical explanation for the broken mother was expected in Tucker’s hands like a graham cracker. Researchers acknowledged that “variation in a woman’s genes – albeit to a very, very minor degree – can help explain her real-world behavior toward her child,” and studying maternal genetics is “a humble mountain.” Based on “” a researcher admitted that they are not sure how to climb “. Not at all what you would expect from a book called “Mother Genus: Inside the New Science of Our Ancient Maternal Situation”. Still, of course, the book reveals something more valuable.
But science first. Handing the reader through various labs, Tucker took a pinch of quips like a class clown on a science field trip. She tells of her topic: “I thought unlocking the secrets of the maternal brain would mean looking for something discrete and self-contained, and perhaps even helpful labels, such as the women’s lounge in a department store.” Of the brain, he said “like the contents of the mother’s handbag, there’s something of a mess in there.”
But her main premise is self-depletion, whether it is her “mother’s brain”, her inability to multitask, or her body shape. (Related to the four-legged mother’s backside, one can almost hear a snide Emirate?) Such a voice has its place in a mother blog or standup show. But a subject that naturally tends to gender stereotypes deserves an intellectually compelling report, in which Tucker is quite capable. One has to ask: what is Tucker doing?
As it turns out, the foil of this book is Tucker himself. She initially admits that before having children she feared that she might become great. Hence the central question of the book “Isn’t there a good mother?” But “Am I a Good Mother?” When research fails to deliver and the circumstances of his own life become daunting, he makes a rhetoric: How can science on maternal instinct speak to a woman’s “complex and shifting social milieu”? it can not. Tucker is forced to study his lived experience to answer his existential questions.
She explains that when she was 7 years old, her family lost their financial crunch and experienced both economic and social decline. Her father was never the same and she died after years of struggle. She recalls that her former stay-at-home mother could not fathom at that time by adopting a teaching work and a paper route, to a level of stress and sacrifice.
Then Tucker himself is the parent in question, a married working mother with two on the way, who leaves a bustling city cooperative for a large, old country house. She removes the closed beams and painted paint off the windows, and imagines the life of the country as we see the absence of neighbors and an anxious concern. The next husband, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat (his “emotional buttress” and “economic mainstay”), becomes seriously ill, and we see this instability causing economic instability and fear, when he spends his time with preschoolers Takes care and is pregnant with her third child.
She practically feels for herself when the baby arrives, and when depression follows, her new doctor completely fails her. Tucker is at his best in repelling this dark conflict. She digs back into science, this time with a visit to the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California, Davis, where she observes Macas – our ancient ancestors – and learns that those who fare best are a mother. Grandmother is present. His own mother becomes his rock. From this humble attitude she invokes a deep compassion for mothers who have to go without this social support. Whether it comes in the form of family, friends or kind strangers, she now knows that it is important. She proposes policy reforms that can improve the parents of all genders.
Tucker climbed that indefinable mountain of science to discover how to scare humans and do ancient tasks to find answers close to home. And this is what makes his story ultimately relieving and encouraging. If you can set your expectations of reading about scientific breakthroughs and allow yourself to cross over the border into a dream, then you can just see that a deeper subject – the author himself – awaits you. Has been doing.