Sunday, March 15, 2009

Monkey Mothering

I've been thinking about monkey mothering. I haven't come to a theory yet, but thoughts of monkeys are in response to my ongoing confusion over conflicting baby-care advice. I'm still getting frustrated at the list of 'Don'ts'....i.e. Lists of Ooh, Beware! points. Beware - if you feed baby on demand or feed to sleep, you'll 'spoil' baby and make him / her demanding / stroppy / a heroin addict when they grow up. They don't say that last bit, but it feels implied.

Mr Hugh is struggling to get to sleep without feeding first. He feeds and feeds. I try to latch him off (moments) early to 'teach' (?) him to settle himself in the cot and he keeps crying. So I repeat the whole sequence again... and then again and, yup, again. And then several times in the night.

But I also think of the monkeys and all the other mammals that snuggle and feed so naturally. Nobody tells a monkey to put her baby in a separate cot and teach it a stiff upper lip. For its own good! Hmm, where does that leave me? I don't know. Clarification and illumination, readers. They elude me. Cute monkeys though.



oh yeah? said...

Monkey Mothering: My Very Own (Home-brewed, Half-baked) Theory.....

• Don’t ever listen to anyone who thinks that they have even remotely got it sorted. Like, y'know, ever (including me)
• Source yourself some like-minded bovine companions
• Ensure these friends have a sense of humour
• Ensure that this sense of humour leans heavily towards the irreverent and that they are all open books with a penchant for babble
• Ensure that said friends will join you in the odd alcoholic beverage (without beforehand consulting their ‘Book Of Things Bad Mothers Do’) as well as the occasional night out on the town so as you can all flaunt your baby boobies at any vaguely attractive man who cares to observe and then laugh and run away
• Join these friends in making fun of the photos of the authors/spinster aunts on the inside sleeves of your baby rearing/taming/training guides. What a hoot. Why are control freaks always so aesthetically and sartorially challenged, I ask you?
• Continue to mother your baby as you see fit, all the while appreciating that life as you have known it previously has perished and that inconvenience is now your new best friend. Take it easy. Take it slow. Take it on the chin and for now, savour your beautiful baby and save your ruthlessness for toddlerhood and beyond when it will become absolutely indispensable.
• If all else fails, take your frustrations out on the baby's father for everything he's put you through
• Go observe the monkeys at the zoo. See how the mother monkey spits at and bites anyone or anything that tries to interfere with her task at hand.
• Notice that this mother monkey doesn’t give a shit what you or anyone else (but especially of what the zoo keeper) thinks of what she is doing or why she is doing it
• Buy yourself a copy ‘Book Of Things Bad Mothers Do’ and plan to execute at least one of these ‘things’ per week

P.S. your little guy is gorgeous, really, just edible! (no cause for alarm, I live too far away)

Ciara said...

Thanks Oh Yeah - I like your style :-)

-C x

Rachel Fox said...

It's all true above. Your instincts are in there can be hard to hear them sometimes with all the faff of modern life...but they're in there all the same.
And if it helps (as you can see) you are soooo not the first Mum to feel this way. It is hard, confusing, tiring, frustrating...and the books only help mothers that really want routine and regularity - people who want tidy children and tidy lives. Are you one of those people?

nmj said...

Spinster aunts - mmm - what a derogatory phrase!

Anonymous said...

If all humans treated their young as well as monkeys (and other animals) do, we would all be better for it. Ciara, you sound like a great mother, you don't need all these books, be yourself with your baby. He looks a happy, much loved baby.
Lesley (Blog reader)