Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Motherhood Makes Us Animals

The urge first struck me one August morning when my daughter was a few weeks old. I was sitting in my usual nursing spot on the loveseat, feet resting on a little step stool and my daughter's tiny body was in my lap. Her feet were tucked up in her gown.  She was milk-drunk and sleeping. I was mesmerized by her face, the wispy newborn baby velveteen hairs that rimmed the edges of her ears, and those impossibly tiny fingers. I just stared and stared at her watching her breathe....and then... I wanted to put her little curled up fist in my mouth.  I literally wanted to put her fist in my mouth.

I have heard people say things like "Oh, she is so cute I could eat her up" or "I could just bite those chubby thighs."  I thought I understood what they were saying, but I truly did not until that very moment.   I want to clarify that I never actually put her fist in my mouth, but the urge never went away. In fact, the more those little hands puffed up with baby fat, the more I wanted to eat her.  I was so drunk in love with her that I just wanted to eat her up. I thought about females in the animal kingdom that eat their young. I think that they just can't help themselves. They are awash in that hormonal soup of overwhelming love coupled with sleep deprivation and they literally put the baby's hand in their mouth and just can't stop. I, however, am a rational (most of the time) thinking human and can stop myself.

Motherhood makes us animals.

We become nocturnal, prowling around our houses in the dark.  We don't use our tongues to lick our children clean, but we lick our fingers to rub dirt off of their cheeks, or to smooth down a crazy cowlick.  We use our teeth to trim a little one's snagged fingernail. We sniff their bottoms. We intensely inspect their body parts. We pick through their hair, pulling out twigs, bugs and dried up pasta sauce from last night's dinner. We are sheepdogs, constantly running around the perimeters of our kitchens, our yards, and the grocery store.  We round up our little people and herd them from one place to the next. We crane our necks and howl up to the moon in the middle night when we are so exhausted that the only thing we can do is cry out for help.  We alertly sit with hawk's eyes on playground benches surveying the area for any out of place movement.  Our bat ears  wake us up from a deep sleep when a child whispers "Mommy" from down the hall. We become scavengers. Mealtimes consist of swooping down like a seagull at the beach, to snatch up the half eaten grilled cheese discarded by a picky toddler. We will rip off your face, like a rabid hungry mountain lion with PMS, if you do something that threatens the safety of our kids.

Once you let the animal out, my friends, it can not be tamed.

The motherhood animal-takeover was slightly different for me when my son was born. I didn't have the urge to put his hand in my mouth, but I did love the way his breath smelled. He had the sweetest buttery baby's breath and I admit it, on any given day, you could catch me taking a whiff.


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