How does Mother Nature deliver love

comment : The mother of feelings

Poor Gretlein! How many therapy hours and attempts will the girl have to endure as an adult in order to overcome the shadows of her childhood. It was the mother who caused the soul damage because she sent the little girl into the dark forest. Gretel was able to save herself and her brother Hansel too. But for us, the people of the 20th and 21st centuries, it would be very clear that their story can by no means be finished with the outcome of the fairy tale: "All worries came to an end, and they lived together in sheer joy."

In the end, the Brothers Grimm did not have the happy family life after a gruesome prehistory. "Hansel and Gretel" ends with a playful, strange rhyme promise: "My fairy tale is over, there is a mouse running there, whoever catches it can make a big, big fur cap out of it." The two Grimms really understood children. The wicked witch is burned in the oven - and no child asks about the wicked mother who, while falling asleep, is occupied with the puzzle of how to make a big cap out of a little mouse.

The good mother, who devotedly finds her natural destiny and task in the domestic circle, had just begun her ascent when the Grimm fairy tale collection appeared at the beginning of the 19th century. It was still the time of the mother who, out of necessity, did not know what to do, that of the illegitimate child murderer, the aristocrat, who gave her children to wet nurses, nannies and educators at an early age. Bad mothers all, by our standards. Little was to be seen of the supposedly innate motherliness, but all the more of compulsions and downright cruel methods of upbringing. The longing for the understanding, loving, protective mother is ancient. She knows many images, terms, powerful projections: Mother of God, Mother Nature.

Friedrich Schiller's “chaste housewife, the mother of children” was the rise of women to a motherhood that gave them responsibilities and rights in the family that did not exist before. The “natural” female determination that the Enlightenment discovered in it was - of course - an idealization, behind which it was not only the feminists of the 20th century who discovered the illegality of women who extorted, coerced or extorted the renunciation of rights and freedoms through motherhood could be persuaded. The overpowering mother of psychoanalysis was yet to follow the mother myth of the Enlightenment. The loving mother responsible for everything now also became the one who is also to blame for everything, especially the misdeeds of her sons. But the women's rights activists who shattered the bourgeois myth and attacked Freud's image did not write the final chapter in the history of motherhood, nor did the other feminists who made vagina, uterus and breastfeeding half a religion.

Science has long been on its way to unraveling the mother's riddle - recently, brain research in particular has contributed to agreeing and contradicting all previous theories at the same time. Because nature and culture are involved when mother love arises. They have to interweave and interlock in infinitely complex ways; these processes are as powerful as they are susceptible to failure.

No enlightener, no feminist, no brain researcher had to discover that, motherhood is indispensable for the survival of mankind. But also of immense importance for the individual ability to live and be happy. Mother's love is the mother of other feelings, the source of romantic love. In terms of development history anyway. How much the individual's ability to love and bond depends on the mother's love experienced at an early age has long been taught in life experience, which is more and more scientifically supported by research.

So we should by no means abolish Mother's Day, even if in the first decades of the old Federal Republic it was seen by many young people as the epitome of a lying ritual, just like Women's Day in the GDR. And today, first of all, is the most beautiful holiday of florists. Incidentally, he comes from the USA; there, in 1914, Congress set the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. It is celebrated on this day in around seventy countries - including Australia, Japan, Egypt and Brazil.

Despite all the conflict about motherly love and mothers (without): Even for today's mothers, three true words from Schiller's “bell” remain valid. His hymn to the chaste housewife culminates in the line: “And never rests.” However, the housewife can confirm this, who as an educator, trainer, chauffeur of her children has to meet the requirements of perfect support. It is no different for single parents who master their everyday life with limited resources and yet always have the feeling that their exertion is not enough. And with the clock on her neck, the working bad mother rushes back and forth between the office, kindergarten and apartment. Even the mother of the 21st century “never rests”.

Today we at least know why it starts with night sleep. The early bond between mother and child and the tireless maternal care leave their mark on the brain: Mothers have a heightened perception. You are wide awake as soon as the baby shows the first signs of nighttime hunger, while the young father ignores loud roars while he is asleep.

He wasn't "high" when he first saw his newborn child, unlike the mother, who - a wonderful trick of nature - is showered with endorphins in the final stages of birth and oxytocin in the hours after birth . It is also casually called the “love hormone” because it also plays a major role in being in love and having sex. Good for the baby who is hugged by this euphoric, loving mother.

Still no excuse for fathers. Because nature does not provide an instinctively reliable motherly love, but only favorable conditions, in a sense the option for its development. It can only adjust itself and develop properly when a bond is created through the constant interaction between mother and child, through care, closeness and attention. The flood of hormones favors the willingness for this interaction, but only in combination with maternal behavior does the willingness and ability, the famous maternal selflessness, arise for a child to the point of sacrifice. It is obvious that motherly love has a much better chance when a child is wanted - and also that it is wanted more when the woman can decide whether and when she wants to become a mother. The freedom women gained through the pill was a great hour for motherly love. Because the “good mother” cannot prescribe because love cannot be forced. It is not uncommon for family unhappiness to arise when women simply cannot live up to the model - and only play one role as mothers.

There are countless examples of how easily the early bond can be disturbed - but also of how it can be established through practical action and how the vital bond between the child and a caregiver can develop despite the loss of the close proximity of mother and child after birth .

When in the 50s and 60s in the birth clinics the infection was to be tackled with optimal hygiene, mothers and newborns were often separated. How bad that was for the children was discovered by doctors in the USA when they made a sad observation. Premature babies rescued through weeks of intensive care were taken to the emergency rooms with injuries inflicted by their mothers. Research has shown that babies who are separated from their mothers immediately after birth have a higher risk of abuse.

But unlike many mammals who cast off their offspring when the moment of early attachment is disturbed, women can turn to their children under general anesthesia even after a caesarean section. Experience and learning play a major role in the development of human motherly love. With the disadvantage that people can rely less on their instincts. And the advantage that they love adopted children dearly, compensate for forced early separations - and fathers can become equal caregivers.

But the subtle difference between father and mother remains; Parents who do not raise their children according to the traditional division of labor are often encountered through their children. "Psst, Mama," said my four-year-old son when he, as usual, woke me up on a Sunday morning at six o'clock, "don't be so loud, Papa is still asleep."

The fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm come from circumstances in which the productive interlocking of nature and culture was more of the happy exception. How rarely the mother appears in fairy tales - and how often her counterpart, the wicked stepmother - illustrates how much a real mother is missing. For Snow White, Cinderella, for little brothers and sisters, the loss of their mother is a great fate. Cinderella can only save herself with the help of the dead mother who sends her clothes and shoes from the tree at the grave. Snow White has to flee behind the seven mountains to the seven dwarfs, a prince charming has to be called up so that she can be happy. Little sister, who has to protect her enchanted brother, only triumphs over the angry stepmother with the strength of her motherly love. Already defeated, she appears on the bed of her kidnapped child and with her strong affection saves the little brother, herself and her child.

Given by nature and implanted in women, motherliness is not inherent in women, but humanity and every human being is dependent on motherly love. The “mother myth”, which no social and natural science can fully decipher, will therefore always exist. Mothers can develop explosive political power. The Russian soldiers' mothers or the Argentine mothers of the Plaza de Mayo exert more pressure on cold rulers than international diplomacy. Mothers are more efficient economists in developing countries; they make a lot out of small loans, whereas men with large ones cultivate corruption. The backpack mothers in Rotterdam and the district mothers in Berlin-Neukölln are tearing down the barriers to educational success for migrant children.

The puzzle is not why they do this. Those who raise children have to think about the future. The puzzle is where their power comes from. Pictures of your own children cause a sharp increase in activity in the so-called reward circuit of the brain. Mother's love is not only the mother's love for the child, but also the child's love for the mother. And the utterly self-centered love of the small child is purer and more unreserved towards its object than the unselfish motherly love. In fact, every child forgives the mother of Hansel and Gretel - even if the thing about the little mouse and the big cap is not read out at all.

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