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Five 'Pacific Standard' Stories for Mother's Day

Everyone has one, but no two are quite the same.
Prince Harry, Michelle Obama, and Jill Biden helping children create Mother's Day cards at the White House. (Photo: Public Domain)

Prince Harry, Michelle Obama, and Jill Biden helping children create Mother's Day cards at the White House. (Photo: Public Domain)

Here at Pacific Standard, we've thought a lot about moms. How do they and other caregivers shape children when they're little? What are the newest forces shaping modern motherhood? Below, we've collected five of our favorite stories featuring moms, ranging from long non-fiction stories to personal essays to recaps of recent research. For each suggestion, we offer a little commentary, as well as a preview of the story.

We know every mom is different; we hope you'll find something below that speaks to your relationship with yours.

Aunt Mommy

The latest in vitro fertilization technologies can make for some unusual new family arrangements, but they needn't lack openness and love.

Shannon is proud of how she and Jodie helped each other to have babies, and her daughters know the stories well. "What did I do for Aunt Jodie?" Shannon called from the front seat. "You gave her eggs," both girls shouted in unison from the back. "Why did I do that?" asked Shannon. "Because she's your sister and because you love her," answered Jessica. "Why do you think she helped us?" "Because she is your sister and she loves you," both girls said. They’ve even been taught the biology. "How did they make the embryo?" I asked, referring to Josh’s birth. "With Uncle Paul’s sperm," said Jessica. "And my mom’s eggs," said Tessa.

What If We Admitted to Children That Sex Is Primarily About Pleasure?

We only wish our mothers were as cool as Alice Dreger, the author of this essay.

One day nine-year-old Elaine started asking me about birth control out of the blue. I said to her, "Listen, I need to call your parents and ask them if it's OK for me to talk to you about this, OK?" She said that'd be fine. So I did. I didn't expect her mother's response.

"Oh, God, yes, please answer any questions she has! And tell her it's OK to go to you any time with those questions!"

The Damage Done: Can Distance Between a Mother and Daughter Be the Best Solution?

Not everyone has a healthy relationship with their mother. For those who don't, we hope this essay will offer some assurance that you're not alone.

I think engaging with her may have been like walking on landmines—I was at risk of consequence, but it felt like a mystery to figure out which of my actions would set her off. When I stepped on a mine, it set off a series of explosions, both of us reacting to one another.

Our C-Section Rate Won't Budge—Is It Because We Don't Trust Women's Hormones?

Check out this deep dive into a recent report about the numerous, subtle benefits of using fewer medical interventions during healthy births.

One of the report's big takeaways is that the glass warming tray, the synthetic oxytocin, even the epidural—these staples of modern maternity care are all subbing for normal physiology, and failing to measure up.

How Moms Change Brains

For the finale, a short story about a study on the neuroscience effects of Mom.

Young children’s brains responded differently based on whether they were looking at their mothers or strangers. In particular, their brains showed signs of positive amygdala-PFC connections when viewing pictures of strangers, but negative connections when viewing pictures of their mothers, suggesting more mature and stable brain function—and likely more mature and stable behavior, at least when moms were around.