Wednesday, February 11, 2009

musings of a soon-to-be-working mom

I know I have more Holdfast Seeker to work on, but a very demanding four-month-old often prevents me from writing. Although, my husband and I just had an interesting conversation over breakfast that prompted me to write this short musing on the evolutionary roles of moms and dads and what that means in the modern world. Enjoy:

Four months after the birth of my daughter I am truly beginning to understand human evolution. Mind you, I hold a degree in biology with evolution as one of my concentrations. But until I actually had the chance to witness my own part in the human cycle it never occurred to me why men and women often struggle in their modern parenting roles. It started when we were leaving the hospital and came across a couple and their baby who were just wheeled down from delivery to the post-partum ward. The husband asked if there was anything he could do for his wife, she screamed something that sounded like “go find food!”. He quickly left the room muttering “hunt and gather, hunt and gather, hunt and gather.” 'Cause that's all a man can do in that situation right? Provide for his family.

I could get stoned by women's lib groups worldwide for saying this but it's true: women are programmed to stay home with their kids and men are programmed to hunt and gather. I'm currently battling with the issue of returning to work and never ever thought that I would want to leave my dream career of working at a public aquarium (I mean, come on, how cool is it that I get to swim with sharks, pet jellyfish and play worm-catch with common terns and get PAID for it?). But there's this little computer chip in my brain that's telling me “No! You are the mom, you stay home and nurture your child and build a home for your family.” Do I listen to it or ignore it?

Likewise my husband had an unexpected reaction to fatherhood. He had planned on staying home for at least a week but his little dad-computer chip switched on and he felt an urge to go to his office. It wasn't that he wanted to get away from the newborn, he practically cried every morning when he went out the door. But evolution was telling him, just like the new dad at the hospital, to go hunt and gather. Or in the modern sense: go make money. Because providing for a family is literally the only thing a man can do in this situation. He can't lactate, right? Sure, he can change a few diapers and maybe if the baby is bottle feeding do a few overnight feeds to give the mom a break. But until the modern age after the birth of a child hominid males generally went out, hunted down a wildebeest, and dragged it home for the women to prepare. And you know what? I'm kinda fine with that. I hate grocery shopping.

So stone me. Tell me I just put women's liberation back 40 years. But for all you moms out there, you have to admit that you know there's a little chip in the back of your brain, a little link in your DNA, that told you to stay home, curl up around your baby, and kick the dad out of the house to drag home a wildbeest. Now if only a grandmother would come along and cook it up that would be perfect. But an essay on the benefits of raising a child in a village versus the typical American nuclear family will have to wait for another time.


  1. This is not just good, but true. Who shall we send it to? Let's start thinking about magazines that would find this a good fit. I say it is ready to be mailed off today!

  2. I know I know! I'll get to it, I need to figure out how to query a magazine first. I found tons of info online. my mom says to take anything like this off-line if you want it published, so I should do that soon. and to only send the publication short clips of the article. luckily I have her as a resource!


I LOVE comments!