27 July 2011

Why I Might Suck as a Mother


I read this blog the other day. I thought it was amusing, slightly, because it seemed like a ridiculous story to garner such a large amount of media coverage. But beyond that, I felt it was funny that the mother talked to her child about the shark this way: "The shark didn't mean to, it was an accident," and the child then saying "I forgive the shark." My thought? The shark doesn't need your forgiveness, child.

One person wrote, 'How about, "I don't hold a grudge against sharks, or the natural, instinctual actions of wild animals in general." Forgiveness it not called for, not relevant, and certainly not cared about (even known about) by the animal. It may be just as important to teach a child not to anthropomorphize.'

And I tend to agree/relate to that comment. (This commenter was accused of being a cynic in another comment. Guilty as charged?) Maybe it's because I don't really like animals too much, so I'm not interested in being "friends" with them. Or for my children to be (I often dread becoming a pet owner, which seems inevitable as a parent). It's a natural thing to do as a kid, to love animals. I might have even been that way myself before I started calling myself mature and seeing no value, only inconvenience, associated with owning a pet. Oh, and I might have felt that way before that one time when a dog bit my face off. That incited some dog dislike. But was forgiving the dog really an issue? Was blaming the dog really an issue? Animals are animals, and their behavior is unpredictable and not motivated by agency. I don't think I really can be any kind of judge there.

So how does this serve as a predictor of my inadequacy as a mother? It serves to show that I don't think like a child and don't know how to think like a child, nor do I understand how to appreciate the way children think.

You know, I have never really had strong or close relationships with people that aren't in my "life phase" (which I feel bad about). When I was a kid myself, I appreciated kids. When I was a teenager, I appreciated other teenagers (Though, as a whole? Probably not even then . . . Hardy har har! Take that, teenagers!) Since I've become an "adult"? Not really. I feel awkward and uncomfortable around children (and very old people, too). I don't know how to talk to them or love them.

Ergo . . .


Holly said...

I personally don't think that thinking like that child means you'd be a good mother. (Did that sentence even make sense? I don't know.) I think it's just proof that the little girl is probably encouraged to go up and pet squirrels and chase after deer trying to give hugs. Now, if a kid in her playgroup had tried to take a chunk out of her leg, that would warrant a news story about forgiveness.

But really, if I was the mother, I wouldn't care about my little girl not liking sharks anymore (though, granted, I may be somewhat biased as I've been terrified of sharks since I was really little). I'd be concerned if she said she never wanted to go in the ocean again due to the whole getting-back-on-the-horse thing. Priorities, woman! Do wild animals want forgiveness? No, they want to be left alone.

It's possible I'm a cynic like you. J/K, that's totally not a new realization. Sorry to slam down your argument about not being a good mother, by the way. You're of course at perfect liberty to go on thinking so if it give you comfort.

Rachel said...

I don't know . . . I kind of think I'd rather have my child spend the rest of his life terrified of wild animals than go around forgiving the ones that try to eat him, because if my kid got attacked by a shark, the last thing I'd want is him forgiving it and jumping back in the water. And about your mothering comment, I'm not sure being comfortable around kids matters much--honestly, I'm still not very comfortable around many kids (maybe that says something about my mothering skills, but I hope not). I'm comfortable around mine (although even that took a while), and I'm sure it's just a matter of time before he realizes what a dork I am and decides to hate me, but I feel pretty awkward around most children. And I didn't like many children before having one . . . and I still don't. I only really like the ones I'm related to.

Heather Burdsal said...

I am with you on the whole "unsure about motherhood" vibe. Spending days and days with a posse of children ages 6 months to 6 years during my family reunion has made me rather reflective about the whole thing. I don't really like children at ANY of those ages for more than a few hours at a time.

My sister-in-law is expecting, and her husband said he's excited, but totally out of the baby phase. He said he likes his kids at their current ages (3 and 6). I thought to myself, "I like my children at their current ages, too: Negative 5 years old."

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