Ever wonder why despite your lack of fame, success, or really any redeeming qualities whatsoever your mother still loves you?
Is it because of the $10 gift cards you'd give her for mother's day from ages 12 to 23? Or maybe it's because you're slightly more successful than your shithead younger brother, so you shine relative to his dullness? Believe it or not, it turns out that none of these reasons contribute to the unconditional love your mom has in her heart for you (at least not scientifically). Instead, you owe that all to oxytocin.
Oxytocin is more than just a shitty word scramble of an expensive, government-regulated form of heroin. It's actually a hormone that we all have coursing through our bodies. It's released in the brain mainly in response to social contact, especially skin-on-skin contact. The effects promote familial bonding within humans and all other animal species. However, much like weight, appetite, and stretch marks, these effects increase in pregnant women.
During pregnancy, rising estrogen levels in the expecting mother lead to an increase in the number of oxytocin receptors in her brain, as well as an increase in her overall batshit-craziness and cravings for large amounts of food at inconvenient times of the night. The large number of oxytocin receptors in the part of the brain that promotes maternal behaviors allow her to respond to the increased oxytocin levels after she gives birth.
Scientists have found that mothers with high oxytocin levels during pregnancy bond better with their babies, and also worry more. Probably about things like "why is his penis so small?" and "I hope my husband doesn't notice he's two shades too dark."
Under the early effects of oxytocin, nerve junctions in parts of a mother's brain undergo "re-wiring," causing these maternal actions to have a permanent pathway that shapes the mother-child bond.
Oxytocin levels also increase when mothers touch or hold their babies more. Which means if your mother held you a lot as an infant, she probably continued to do so way past the point that you were comfortable with it. And if she didn't hold you back then, it's likely the only thing she holds now are your calls when you try to reconnect after 20+ contentious years.
So why does your mother love you? Because of science. Although some of you are probably thinking: but what if she doesn't love me? Well, biology can't explain that, but a therapist probably could.