Me Mommy, Ug Ug

Here's a recent lithograph of me. (Digital cameras are soooooooooo third millennium.)

Honore Daumier's The mother is in the throes of composition. The child is in the bath water!

Please tell me that I am not the only mother-writer here whose children set themselves on fire every time she sits down to attempt to put pen to paper. Or finger to keyboard.

Okay...that's not really me. But I still like it - although, I'm not certain whether Daumier was commenting on a woman's inability to multitask (as if I do anything else) or whether it's just a strong suggestion that mothers best tend to their babies and not try any fancy pants thinking.

In which case, Mr. Daumier is looking for a kick in the crotch even if he does happen to be dead. I'm not above kicking a dead man. You should all know this about me.

Anyway, the lithograph is in a book entitled Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species, by Sarah Hrdy.

How does one pronounce Hrdy, I have no idea, but no, my A key isn't sticking. It is, in fact, Hrdy. Without a vowel. Except sometimes Y.

Just to give you a hint at what path this book will be leading me down, here is a sampling of the chapter titles:

Motherhood as a Minefield
The Variable Environments of Evolutionary Relevance
Family Planning Primate-Style
The Optimal Number of Fathers
Unnatural Mothers
Born to Attach
How to Be "An Infant Worth Rearing"
Of Human Bondage
Alternate Paths of Development

Intriguing, yes?

And from the preface

What does it mean for a woman to have descended from ancestors who spent the Pleistocene (the time span between 1.6 million and ten thousand years agao) trying to gather enough food to stay fed and also obtain enough help from others so that her offspring would survive and prosper? What does it mean to be all these things embodied in one ambitious woman? To be a semicontinously sexually receptive, hairless biped, filled with conflicting aspirations and struggling to maintain her balance in a rapidly changing world?

First of all, hairless biped is a bit of a stretch when speaking about me and my unibrow.

But second...Oh! Oh! Isn't this good?! Haven't I been saying this all along? (Well, not here, but to anyone who will listen in the grocery checkout. And okay, a very bright friend of mine has been saying this longer than I have, but she's not currently online much, so I can plagiarize her.)

You don't just take a million or so years of hunting-gathering and fight-or-flight panic attacks over the possibility of grizzly bears - er, I mean snakes - swallowing your child in the middle of the night because the evolutionarily-challenged scamp rolled off the grass mat and away from the fire and then fastforward to 2006 and not expect to feel an uneasy, undefinable pang - a remnant of that same snake-eat-child anxiety - when struggling with a screaming 2-year-old who refuses to stay put in her toddler bed, even though you know there are no snakes in the house, even though she knows there's no snakes in the house, and even though no one has slept for three weeks straight ever since you had the bright idea to take said toddler out of the crib and put her in a damn toddler bed.

Somewhere, somehow, we're still hard-wired with the "dark-alone-snake-eat-child" instinct.

And that's just one hand-me-down from my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great, etc. grandmother.

Just scanning the book, there's evidently plenty more where that came from.

I swooned when I read this:

Today, mothers in developed countries, and with them fathers and children, enter uncharted terrain. Without anyoe raising their hands to volunteer, we have become guinea pigs in a vast social experiment that reveals what women who can control reproduction really want to do. Children, too, are finding out what it means to be born to a complex and multifacetd creature who has an unprecedented range of options.

Frankly, I can't remember the last time anyone referred to me as a "complex and multifaceted creature" and really, it's about time someone did. And not with a smirk on his face while I'm folding laundry, watching Sense and Sensibility for the 44th time, and eating Cheetos all at once.

Anyway, this looks to be a good read. A slightly different take on ongoing mommy (war) talks as written by a professor trained in anthropology, primatology and evolutionary theory. Back to the basics, servin' it up reeeeaaaalllll old school style, before SAHM and WOHM and WAHM were anything but AM radio call letters, before NOW and Zelda Fitzgerald, takin' it back to the days before Freud's first cigar-shaped pacifier, before social Darwinism was all the rage, before Amazons and goddesses, back back back, going way back to before that morning when Adam lazily awoke, belched, rolled-over and wondered aloud to Eve "You were great last night, Honey. But why do you keep screaming out Mojo Jojo! Mojo Jojo! in the heat of passion? I thought I was your first."

So, I’ll keep you abreast of my research. Toss out the odd random thought here and there. Post hilarious and probably offensive lithographs.

Hopefully, while I’m posting anything - this even! - my children aren’t being eaten by anacondas.

No…no…ha ha ha…anacondas! In Pennsylvania! The thought of it!

Heh heh…anacondas. Sure.

Heh heh.


I’ll stop now.

And not because I’m going to check on my children.

With a can of Extra Super Hold Aquanet hairspray in my hand.

To, uh, stun…the uh…you know.


Kate said...

You've got that lithograph all wrong. That mother was in the midst of a deep thought when her child appraoched her, whining, "Moooooommmmmmyyyyyy, I can't fiiiiiiiind iiiiiiit!"

For the fortieth time.

Mother promptly dumped kiddo into the bucket.

Aside from that, it sounds like an interesting book. said...


My kids are going to read all this some day.

Sweeties? Darlings? Mummy did NOT leave the duct tape/bath water/dog kennel out intentionally just so you could occupy yourselves while mommy finished her computer writing stuff.

(LOL! You're too funny, Kate.)

Julie Pippert said...

I heard Sarah Blaffer Hrdy (Hurdy she said, if I recall correctly...I've had children since then) speak about her Mother Nature book. I have a couple of her book. Fascinating. Unfortunately, they are above my reading level now that I have children. Or, if I do sit and try to concentrate with the two remaining neurons I have, my children will color themselves red and black checkerboards with sharpies...or better yet, the wall of our house that is no longer our house. Hey, in that case, why worry? It's the new owners problem!

anne said...

LOL!!! I hear you on the hairless thing. If only!

Anyway, this has opened up an entirely new line of defense to my hubby for those times (always) when I go grocery shopping and bring home 10 boxes of waffles because they were on sale. When no one even so much as thought about opening one of the previous 10 boxes of waffles.

Being a logical and scientific-minded kind of guy, I can tell him it is merely my gatherer/hoarder instinct and there's no use trying to fight that urge for survival that has been programmed into my mind eons ago.

He'll respect that I'm sure.

He'll never again think it was just because I didn't bother to check the freezer before I went to the store.

Om.powered said...

I have a theory on this. Honestly.

And after I go put out the fire that is The Om-let, I will expound.

Of course, it might take me about...oh...15 years to complete it. And by then? Well, we'll be deeply immersed in the next ice age so I guess it's all moot.

It's the bane of being a smart mom.

Or is that a "smrt" mom? :D


Momma Star said...

Unnatural mothers, huh?

I've taken to writing at 3 am when the baby has been up for an hour and the big kid will be up in half an hour and I'm wide awake anyhow. And just who says you need sleep to write villanelles in iambic pentameter anyhow?


KK said...

I was going to comment earlier but the power went out when the children shoved metal spoons into the outlets.


Where was I? Sorry the flicker of the welding torch in the other room keeps distracting me. Oh, well I think I hear ya. If I had brain cells left I'd write something witty.

But ya, what you said.

Anonymous said...

Where do you find these books? When I have time to read I'm searching out the fluff, don't make me think books. And here you are learning to survive in an apocalypse and learning about evolving moms or something like that. There were some big words in there, I glazed over a bit.

Makeup Theory said...

This is a wonderfully funny blog! I received a comment from you on my blog regarding maternity wear, however, life has been so hectic I've not had time to respond. And I don't even have children! I suppose the advice would be too late now, huh? From what I gather, the little bundle is already here. Congratulations. It's for the best anyhow. There are no good maternity boutiques in this area. Next pregnancy, wear cool, tight clothes like a pop star and snub your nose at all of the appalled Central PA people.

Her Bad Mother said...

I'm so glad that I scrolled down and found this post (after enjoying the others, of course). Laughing, laughing, laughing.

(Thanks for your comment chez moi, BTW!)

Dani said...

Ha! I remember the snake debates. You never know about anacondas.

metric wrenches said...

You have a funny blog post here. I mean having kids born in today’s society where their mother handles different roles and entering different terrains all the time. It is like having metric wrenches bang in your head and you do not know what just happened to you. I like to read that book sometime, that is I think it would prepare new mothers or single ladies entering matrimony to know beforehand what they are going to get into. I do hope that you post more books that are inspirational or frankly funny things that deals with everyday life. Thank you very much.

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