Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Motherly Instinct

This blog post would be very appropriate on or around Mother's Day. But I've always thought that recognizing the importance of parents (Mother's Day / Father's Day) or love (Valentine's Day) only on those "special occasions", and only because you feel obligated to, really isn't all that thoughtful. How about we pay tribute to mothers on a random Tuesday in November?

Ever since we had our daughter, I've noticed something. The vast majority of the people who give our daughter "oh how cute!" attention, are women. The majority of the baby pictures I see on Facebook are posted by women. All of the employees at our day care are women. Why is this?

There are exceptions, but I think most women are hardwired to like babies. I call this the "motherly instinct", and I've noticed it more now than ever. Women are drawn to babies. It's like they have a "baby radar" or something. And once they have had one, they need a fix. Older women, especially, can't get enough when it comes to babies. But it applies to younger women, too. Many women our age who are married without children - and this certainly applied to Amber back before she was pregnant - see a baby and think, "I want one!" And thank goodness for the "motherly instinct", too, because otherwise the human race would be doomed. Sure, some men want kids, but not as badly as the women want kids. If reproduction were entirely up to the men, we wouldn't have near as many babies.

This isn't to say that men aren't capable of being good parents, and that a motherless household is "no place for children". Male domestic partners, for example, have every right to raise a child of their own. (I just wanted to make that clear.) It just doesn't come as naturally for us men. Parenting takes a little more thought on our end because we don't have the "motherly instinct". Thankfully, in the internet age, anybody can do just about anything these days.

But the "motherly instinct" is both a blessing and a curse. Ask the parents of a six-month old. Who is getting less sleep, the mom or the dad? Who is more stressed out, the mom or the dad? Chances are, it's the mom on both counts, especially in today's era of families with two working parents. The fathers can help out all we want, but regardless, the mother will always be thinking about the child. The "motherly instinct" can be quite a burden on a young mother, as I've seen first hand. I encourage Amber to go running without Marla every once in a while, just like I go bicycling; but sometimes it's hard for her to "detach", even for a little bit. (Or, more accurately, she's usually rather sneak in a nap.)

So, we should be very grateful for our mothers and wives. They have a gift. Oh, and there's that whole pregnancy and childbirth thing, too.

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