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A World Without Mothers

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Can you imagine how devoid of humanity we would be if the world was without mothers?

I watched this silly movie on TV the other day where a man lost his wife during childbirth and was forced to take care of his child alone with only marginal help from strangers and distant loved ones.

He began fatherhood with the loss of his partner, but not just the loss of a wife, but also the person whom he engaged in an unwritten contract with who would be responsible for all parental duties until the baby was relatively self-sufficient.

He didn’t know this was their agreement, but with his wife gone, he was solely responsible for the care of a newborn infant. Saying this man was selfish and self-absorbed would be a gross understatement.

The movie exaggerated his incompetence and complete lack of nurturing skills. Although he was a relatively successful person, who seemed to have more than adequate intelligence, he was a moronic parent.

Screaming at newborns is rarely ever useful. Laying them down to cry themselves to sleep when they are clearly suffering from some problem is highly negligent. In fact, treating them like anything other than creatures that depend on you for EVERY LITTLE THING, most important of which: love – is the only option.

I doubt that even most ignorant fathers are so clueless, but then again, I like to give the benefit of doubt. This father was so tragically awful he considered, and almost went through with, giving his child up for adoption because he was too exhausted and overwhelmed to “deal” with parenting.

Fortunately, at the last moment he realized how utterly inhuman it would have been to give up his own flesh and blood simply because he couldn’t “deal” with the responsibility of parenting an infant, a job not for the weak.

So I began to imagine a world without mothers. Women are genetically and primordially designed to care for infants. We have the necessary equipment to feed them. Our brains are wired to hear their cries – wait – not just hear their cries but discern what each pitch means. Once you become a mother your chemistry changes. You become something else.

I can’t stand to hear a baby cry unattended. I can’t bear to see a child sick or injured, or sad even. My impulse is to reach out to them, care for them, love them. I am hardwired for this response, but I sure as hell wasn’t “born” that way. It’s almost a burden too much to bear. I feel the endless weight of the world’s babies suffering. All mothers do. We have to train ourselves to filter it out so that we may tend to our own, special children.

A world without mothers would be a hardened world indeed. A world full of people who are merely shells of humans. Parenting a newborn changes you in ways that you can’t even begin to comprehend. You become a hyperbeing, all senses on full alert – code red 24/7. It’s a wonder that women choose to do it at all.

Thanks mom. Thank you all mothers. Thank you for kissing the boo boo’s of the world, having the patience and strength to raise yourself from sleep at the faintest wimper of your baby. Thank you making the human race a little better. No, make that infinitely better.

And thanks to you, for proving with a little initiative and desire that men can be great mommies too.

Next time – the importance of fathers.

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About Dawn Olsen

  • Eric Olsen

    Unfortunately, not all mothers DO feel the way you do: through nature or nurture (lack thereof) they are able to filter out the insticnts you feel so deeply toward your own and even other children.

    I deeply grateful for you, my own mother, and all mothers who do share the burden of being maternal.

  • Dawn

    No, it’s true, not all mothers are instinctively “good” at being mothers, but most are when you do the numbers. Just as most father’s are good at their job. It’s the role reversal I found to be most difficult to imagine. Hence my thankfulness for the goodness of mommies.

    Thanks for being a great dad, your children and I are most appreciative. There is no substitute for Dad – that’s for sure!

  • A couple of weeks back while the kids and I were going through books in the kiddie section at B&N I saw a baby about ten months old trying to crawl off a bay window ledge.

    Dunno what the mother had been thinking when she left her kid on the ledge and she was a few paces away from the baby browsing through books.

    The little one tried to get down face front and my maternal instincts went into an overdrive and I found myself running over and grabbing the baby before she fell.

    The mother was a bit sheepish when she took her wailing baby from me but it was then that I realized that maternal instincts have a way of extending towards all babies;)

  • THanks Dawn and thanks moms all !