The Mother Gene? (not to be confused with mom jeans)

An article by on May 12, 2018

The Mother Gene? (not to be confused with mom jeans)

My daughter and I recently submitted a vial of our saliva to the ancestry and health research site, I’ve learned quite a bit about genetics since beginning this project, such as the role of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is present in all human beings, and can only be passed to children by their mothers. The types of mitochondrial DNA variants that are shared delineate a maternal haplogroup, and are a powerful tool for tracing lineage. While I share roughly 50% of my father’s DNA, I do not carry the Y chromosome, so do not have a paternal haplogroup. It is not as easy to trace paternal lines because the Y chromosome skips the information-sharing step – excepting for a tiny segment on its tip.

I find it interesting that mtDNA contains 37 of its own genes and provides energy and functioning proteins to every cell – and is only found on the X chromosome. Mothers provide the growing space, nutrition – inside and out – and contribute to the functioning of growing human beings from the very smallest portion of our DNA to their graduation and beyond. None of this can occur, of course, without that person who carries the Y chromosome. And I do not mean to insinuate that one is inherently stronger or better than the other. And not everyone who possess to Xs can or do make new human beings, or are inclined or well suited to do so.

Still. Interesting.

Also interesting? My daughter made the observation that in the majority of Disney so-called fairytales the mother is absent and the evil force is a distorted, malevolent woman. Curious that. Many of us have a complicated relationship with our mother. Some of us consider her our closest friend, and others of us are estranged from our mother. Still some lost our mother too early. Whatever the case, all of us exist because our mother walked the earth.

Julian of Norwich said, “Thanking is a true inward knowing, gratitude, a true understanding of who we really are. With awe we orient ourselves toward God, enjoying and thanking with our real selves.”

Mother’s Day is about recognizing those who nurtured and continue to nurture us. It is about being thankful for that which we have, and for some, about grieving that which we don’t.

So I’d like to offer up a time to be mindful of both. To enter grief and follow through with gratitude to understand our true selves – that aspect of being that is Divine, God-like, the inner strength that is truly human because we all posses an X chromosome irrespective of whether we can or do pass another one on. That mitochondrial DNA that provides energy and life to us down to the infinitesimal cell.

Take a breath. Breathe in the oxygen that is carried to the cells and metabolized by your mtDNA.

Breathe out the excess and used up bits that threaten to be toxic to your system.


Consider the disappointment you experienced at the hand of your mother. Or perhaps it was true abuse, or maybe a mother figure was not present. Look at that loss. See it for what it is – lost. Notice your reaction. How do you feel? Welcome this grief until it is ready to leave for a time. [you may pause this recording if you need more time to sit with your grief.]

When you are ready, think of the person who seemed to always be there for you, care for you, nurture you. How do you feel remembering her? Perhaps it is a sense of security, of love, of joy? Welcome that joy.

Name the pieces of love, the bits of joy. Layer them.

Relish them.

Be grateful.

Notice how, with each thanksgiving, you are moved toward an inner sense of truth, of right-ness. Examine the Divine in it, in you.

How do you respond to God in it all?

How do you respond to your true self in your gratitude?

Be thankful. Be you.


You may find a transcript of this podcast on my website

Today may you walk at the pace of grace in gratitude.


Music: Clark Snyder and the 7th-8th-grade Jefferson/Washington Middle School band, May 2018.


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About Nicole

Nicole Oliver Snyder’s expertise lies in the areas of leadership, gender issues, and mindfulness practice as it affects both. Leadership, particularly in an urban setting, requires community-relations skills, and an ability to clearly convey justice issues as they relate to felt, spiritual ones. Dr. Snyder is author of Leading Together: Mindfulness and the Gender Neutral Zone, and specializes in teaching mindfulness leadership development, formative spirituality, counseling, and Old Testament theology (emphasis on justice issues). She has a diverse background in international community-relations work combined with volunteer work in multi-ethnic communities, and with local institutions. She is an ordained Clergy; holds a BS in Human Development and Family Studies, w/Education Certificate, an MA-Counseling, MDiv Equiv., holds a Doctor of Ministry and Advanced Certification in Formative Spiritual Direction, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (MI).

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