After a recent piano recital, a mom friend and I were reflecting on how maybe, just maybe, our kiddos could have used a little more practice before performing. This inevitably led to a discussion of how to MAKE your kid practice, with both my friend and I wondering if we should be a little more “tiger mom” like. Later, as I barked at my kids to get their stuff out of the car, growled at my youngest for interrupting me during a conversation, and then snuggled up with them both before bed to read, it occurred to me that the whole animal kingdom is ripe with animal mom role models to inspire us.
If I’m not really a tiger mom, what kind of animal mom am I?
I opened the question up to my family and friends to better offer you some animal kingdom inspiration for your own parenting.
This was my youngest daughter, Libby’s first choice of animal mom to describe me. Why? Because she thinks scorpions are cool. Upon research, I can’t help but agree on the cool factor, and I do see some similarities (apart from the 100 babies per brood). Scorpion babies, it turns out, experience live births and spend their early days riding on their mother’s back.
Scorpion mothers also will EAT THEIR YOUNG if they cannot find enough bugs or worms to survive. Metaphorically, this actually resonates with me.
In my ten years of motherhood, I’ve frequently found that if I don’t have enough in my own life to “feed” myself as a person apart from being a mom (be it quality time with my husband or friends, meaningful work, whatever), that it becomes all too easy for me to turn on my kids.
As wonderful as my kids are, I need more than my relationship with them, no matter how great, for my life to feel well- nourished.
My severe cat allergy means that I don’t gravitate to the idea of being a cat mom. I have friends though who see themselves as natural cat mothers: they carry their children around by their neck, will fiercely defend them from harm, and frequently need time alone for long, restorative naps.
If you need something else to convert you to the further glories of being a cat mom (as I did) this video of a cat mom hugging her baby might be all you need. WARNING: The video stars a newborn kitty and has ALL the feels!
A newborn baby, like a baby koala, or joey, is nearly blind, naked, and
earless (Ok, well I guess we diverge there.). As soon as it is born, the joey, using its sense of smell, can crawl to its mother’s pouch, just like how a human newborn can instinctively move to its mother’s breast, all on its own using a breast crawl to begin nursing.
My fellow mom friends also dig the fact that the marsupial babies safely live in their mother’s pouch for months leaving koala mom to just go about her business all day eating and sleeping. Two free hands! Not bad right? Just how much sleep is koala mom getting? 16-18 hours a day!
Of course, many of us who practiced babywearing when our kids were super young connect to the convenience of nature’s design with koalas and kangaroos. It’s hard not to see ourselves as a marsupial mom given the amount of time we spend snuggling and hauling our kids around, right?
Later, however, koala babies start eating their mother’s poop, so I think it’s safe to say we diverge again on that point.
Ducks are incredibly protective of their young, and we moms often feel that same instinct to chase away anything that threatens our children. The instinct to imprint though is what makes duck children, I think, so much like our own. Our babies learn to speak, walk, and do a thousand things just by watching whoever they’ve bonded in those earliest formative moments, just like ducks. And who among us hasn’t had our little ones following us around the house as we try to get things done at some point? Finally, my fellow animal moms point out the pleasure we all feel whenever we have our ducks all in a row.
Maybe you’re an octopus mom because your house is where all the neighborhood kids converge or because you’re always picking up other people’s kids and transporting them? Or maybe you’re an octopus mom because you’re able to feed your kid a snack, make a kid a costume, help another kid with homework, answer a work email, cook dinner, and pay your bills all within an hour. There’s no way that’s possible without eight arms, right?
If you think your parenting is the exact opposite of a tiger mom’s, then you might be a sloth mom. Sloths have extremely slow metabolisms (check), they will hiss and claw at predators to protect their babies (check), they’ll also rarely go to retrieve a crying baby (in the middle of the night? Check). Sloth moms are evidently a thing on the internet too, so if you’re interested you could Google the heck out of that. Or just go take a nap.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also take a moment to identify the animals I am glad my parenting doesn’t resemble. These include sea turtle moms who after laying their eggs in the sand, head off back into the sea
footloose and fancy-free. Elephant moms who are pregnant with their babies for almost two years. And harp seal moms who leave their babies to go off to eat; the pups starve for a month, defenseless on the ice until they maybe get big enough to swim on their own. (That’s just cold, Harp Seal Mom, cold.) Still not feeling better about your parenting? Check out some more of the worst animal moms you’ll ever meet.