The 'Mothering' Instinct

Monday, 22 October 2012

Last weekend, BabyMoo was invited to a birthday celebration. He was the youngest of the children there, and he was so fortunate to have two big 'sisters' to look after him.




These wonderful girls were not asked to play with him, neither were they asked to look after him. They simply played, and included him in their games. They did not think he was intrusive, and instead took it upon themselves to entertain him, and make sure that he is safe.

Looking at these pictures prompted me to think.

"Do girls really have a natural instinct to 'mother' and care for the young? Is it what is called the 'mothering instinct'?

Ask any man, and chances are they would say that women belong to a peculiar species. They are emotional, unpredictable, and in some cases, highly strung. They expect their men to know what they are thinking, and can fall apart and dissolve into an inconsolable mess when things don't go their way.

They also tend to have this urge to try to nurture and protect those who seem helpless and need care (read: babies), and this feeling can usually start even during pre-pubescent times and escalate as their biological clock tick away. They get married, have kids, and feel that they are then complete.

Ask me again about mothering instincts.

I never had that. Seriously.

Don't get me wrong... I love babies - just not enough to want to have any of my own, or to have to wipe poopy bums or deal with screams, and have them cramp my style. Most of all, I wouldn't dream of getting married to simply balance the equation. I adore babies, enough to hand them back to their parents when they start scrunching up their faces in preparation for a bawl ranging from 90 dB to 140 dB.

Back then, I could not imagine giving birth. The thought of squeezing something the size of a huge pumpkin through the birth canal is enough to give me palpitations, not to mention having to push, breathe, count, push again and whatever that natural birth is associated with. I've never even carried a baby prior to having BabyMoo placed in my arms - and that speaks volumes.

I think most men are apprehensive, at best, but their 'fathering instincts' will naturally involve buying jerseys to herald their love of a particular football team (gender doesn't matter in this instance), and images of finally having a drum playing, football mad and mud-streaked mini-them partner in crime.

So... when I found myself married (unthinkable #1) and then expecting (unthinkable #2), I threw all caution to the wind, and hoped against all hopes that I will be able to provide for this little child, at least enough to not have Social Services called in by well-meaning neighbours and friends.

I have since realised that 'mothering instinct' should not be confused with a 'mother's instincts'.

I cheated on the giving birth bit. Knowing that there is a little being growing inside me did nothing to me in that 'pumpkin coming through!' department, and therefore I opted for a 'go to sleep, have baby, wake up' alternative. And no... BabyMoo's wails from across the nursery were enough to convince me that it wasn't a dream.

There I was, walking out of hospital, wondering how am I going to go through this parenting business. I didn't know what to do, I have no idea what lay in store, and I was petrified. Sure, I had my mother-in-law to help me out, but knowing that this little being was entirely dependent on me was enough to send some crazy images in my head.

"What if he chokes? What if he turns blue? What if he stops breathing and I was asleep? He can't talk... which means I wouldn't know what he wants!"

I spent a good part of the first few weeks watching him sleep because I was afraid he will stop breathing (don't believe people when they tell you to sleep when baby sleeps, most of the time it doesn't work that way). I panicked when he started bawling (he just hated to be swaddled) and I worried. Oh boy... I just realised that I didn't actually know what 'worrying' was till I had the wee babe. And too bad for us mums - the worrying will last forever.

Weirdly, though, I realised that when everyone has exhausted all avenues and options in trying to find out what ails the boy, I will instinctively know what to do. Of course, initially I didn't realise it, but after several hits and misses, I found out that the 'solution' was in my head all along! I didn't trust it, thinking that if the experienced hands didn't know, what did I - as a new mum - know?

I asked myself then: why is it that humans seem to be the only one who need parenting guidance? How is it that all other creatures, big and small, manage to reproduce and raise their young? Yes, there are some who eat their young... and there have been some instances where I have had the urge to do the same. But I digress.

If there is one thing I've learnt, it's that we all need to listen to our hearts more. As mothers, we are naturally equipped with instincts to nurture and raise our young, regardless of whether we had the 'mothering instincts' to begin with, or otherwise. When God has entrusted a little one to us, He has also made sure that we are 'basically' equipped to handle that road wrought with worries. All too often, we become so dependent on our intellectual sides that we forget there is much, much more to this amazing world we live in.

“A mother understands what a child does not say”
~ Jewish proverb

Linking up with:

A Juggling Mom Motiviational Monday

21 comments :

  1. Put it this way, Babymoo charmed the socks of the 2 gals! :p

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    1. I think the cheeky boy did!!

      I still can't get over him giving you 'The Look'! Hahaha!!

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    2. I would do it again... it's too funny!!!

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    3. You haven't kena the swat hand away yet! Then won't be funny cos Mummeh will scold him! :D

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  2. I watch my baby sleep just to make sure he's breathing too! I thought I was being paranoid and never dared to tell anyone. So glad to know that I'm not the only one who does it...

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    1. No... you're definitely not the only one! Although once upon a time I thought I was going nuts with worry. :)

      The thing about these babies is that they suddenly decide to be able to do / do something different overnight. Then they go off their routine, and Mummy worries again!

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  3. eh I also stared at DinoEgg while he zzz to make sure he is sleeping!

    I think girls are better at taking care of younger kids. While I relax at 1 corner chatting with my friends, their girls (like 4 of them) will look after DinoEgg.

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    1. I would think so... cos the boys will just zoom in on those whom they think can play with them better!

      Then again, not so for Z leh - he's also very protective!

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    2. Digress... Can ask grandma to make shirts for Z? kekeke~

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  4. Having two boys i can say that girls are really more careful and helpful if there are younger kids around. My boys still bo hew their own sister when she is around them.

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    1. Yah... I realise that with boys. But it's not like they don't care - I think they just need to be told what to do!

      It's actually the same no matter how old they are lah!

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  5. If I am allowed to just use Asher & Shawna as a comparison, then yes, seems like girls tend to have this natural motherly instinct for taking care of others. Shawna, even though she is the youngest, tends to be the one who is getting water/milk bottles for her older brothers, buttoning their buttons for them etc... hahaha... Oh and, I did the "Check if he's breathing" thing too :p

    And YES!!! Let's catch up soon! :) Time to head to Orchard for coffee! :)

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    1. I need me a girl to jaga me next time leh. Now if only got sure fire method! Hahaha!

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  6. I'm not alone. When Sophie was a babe and when she slept through, I got nervous too and would check if she's breathing too.

    But back on the topic, I hardly would say that I have mothering instincts too. I guess it grows on us when we hold them for the first time in our arms. Of course it helps that we now have plenty of resources to help us in our mothering journey like all you SMB moms. But some guys like my hubby is really good with my daughter too. There was a period of time when Sophie was really colicky and he knew how to shhhh her and that soothe her tremendously. What would I do without him? 

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    1. Hahaha!! So most of us Mums are so guilty of doing that! And I worried that I was paranoid!

      I agree on the 'growing with us' part as well. Whoever said that motherhood makes us stronger certainly know what they are talking about! I wish back then I was in SMB! I wouldn't have been like a deer caught in headlights at ungodly hours!

      Talking about husbands, I think you and I are indeed blessed. The hubs was the first one between the two of us to change his diaper because I was too chicken to do that! Plus he knows how to soothe the boy, in his own ways. Oh my... you should hear both of them conversing Chewbacca style when C was about 2 months! They would entertain each other no end!

      Looking at both of them now, sometimes I get envious :)

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  7. LOL, how true! I am definitely 'emotional, unpredictable and DEFINITELY highly strung. :)

    I was on such high alert that I could not fall asleep if she were in the same room as me UNLESS she is on the same bed. Somehow if she is next to me, I feel more assured that if she moves, I'd know and I would wake up. It is a few hits and misses along the way and I learnt to be able to anticipate and understand her needs. It was a very steep learning curve for me as I never thought that I'd be a mom. And look at me now. LOL. It is very true that God chooses us well as we are most suited for our little ones. Great post Regina! :)

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    1. Looking at your pic there - I wouldn't think that it was taken while you were preggers! Haha!!

      But it's true. We make the most unlikely Mommy material... and look at us now! Auntie Mommies!

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  8. I had the mothering instinct since I was in primary school, always happy to look after my younger siblings n cousins. So much so my friends all predicted I will be the first to get pregnant and lo and behold, they were right! Haha

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    1. Mad!! BabyDust your way in November! Cold Cold there some more! :)

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  9. LOL I did the same thing too, watch him sleep for a good part of his early days. When he started to sleep a bit longer I will check that he's still breathing :)

    I guess mothering instincts just come naturally, we will somehow find our ways around after we walk out of the hospital with the baby!

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    1. It's crazy cool, ya? Almost like we were not only blessed with this beautiful being, but also with the natural instinct to care for him / her!

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