The Menschkin
Monday, July 26, 2004
Why we keep our babies
I just finished reading a very interesting book, though perhaps not every new mother's cup of tea. It's Mother Nature: A History of Mothers, Infants, and Natural Selection, by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy (not a typo). Turns out one of the biggest selection pressures on infants through human history (and the history of some other primates) is infanticide, by mothers or other members of the infants' own species. Hrdy talks a lot about this, and about the traits that have evolved in both infants and mothers to keep us from leaving more babies in the bushes.

Well, Petra is showing off some of those traits now, as you can see from the photo of her with her great aunt Cindy. Not that she was in any danger of being left in the bushes, but her frequent smiles do a lot to balance out backaches and sleep deprivation.

Actually, since I am supported by Tim these days and therefore can usually sleep in when I need to, it's more the absence of a life beyond childrearing, not sleep deprivation, most of the time. But we are managing to get out more now. I started going to a mom-and-baby group this week that shows promise for finding friends and babysitting-exchange partners.

But back to the Menschkin! She's also showing signs of recognizing a couple of words like "hungry" and "fresh diaper." When those reflect her current needs, sometimes if we ask her, she'll calm down and smile, giving us the ultimate reward for our correct guess. Get back, new cars and Hawaiian vacations! My daughter is smiling at me! Hey, she's laughing! I won the bonus round!

Books are also getting to be fun. Petra looks at the pages as I read to her, especially The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, and often smiles at a pretty picture or a particularly enthusiastic delivery. For some reason, the cocoon is a big hit.

Oh, yeah. Some behaviors are endearing or the last straw, depending on how I'm feeling already. Clinging to my hair would be one of those. A perfectly good little primate adaptation that makes tired, frustrated mommies cry. So, following in the footsteps of my mother and sister, I got a haircut. Tim says it's very mommyish. Picture to come later.

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