Monday 28 October 2013

What Makes A Mom

I was out with my two best girlfriends this weekend and the topic turned to motherhood.  We talked about our fears of inadequacy before becoming mothers (and also our fears of continuing inadequacy after becoming mothers).

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be the "perfect" mom.  There are a lot of experts who are only too happy to tell a mom why her slightest mistake will turn her child into a potential serial killer or raging alcoholic or a guilt-sucking endless void of neediness.  Sometimes a combination of all three.

Evolutionary psychologists talk about the paleolithic shaping era, when they believe we learned to be human.  This is where women learned to want powerful, strong men and the initial sex divisions of hunting and gathering started.  Also, when we were being eaten by a lot of Nature's other contenders for Top of The World.

Our parenting hardwiring must also have been shaped at this time.  So our internal parenting strategies are all based on the premise that if at least half of our offspring survive long enough to start mouthing off to us, we've won the genetic lottery.

That is an awesomely low bar to clear. 

Clean water, adequate food and wildlife-free shelters pretty much guarantee we are better parents than we're designed to be.  We've already won.

My glee at this may seem strange but frankly, I think mothers could use something of a break.  We are doing way better than we think we are.  We're not inadequate.  If you love your child and haven't given in to the temptation to flee for the Mexican border ... that is worthy of some celebration.

I'm going to make an effort to summon up my inner cavewoman more often and just be thrilled that nothing is actively trying to eat me or my family.

It's a little victory.  But it's something.

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