Thursday, December 06, 2007

Maternal Hormones Timeline

Last Friday I took some snaps of Sophie and Nathaniel making banana muffins in my home. Today I was going to email those photos to Jac.

But I brought the wrong USB stick to work. This one contains photos from the "Sophie's World" 2008 calendar in my house which I had professionally printed (tell me if you want one on recycled paper).

Have resolved to be better organised tommorrow and email Jac those play-date photos. But since I'm a "glass is always half full" kind of person, I decided that I couldn't pass up on an opportunity to blog these together with thoughts on a book I am reading now.

Stephen Pinker's book "How the Mind Works" contains an interesting little side note on the "myths" of maternal love. Pinker (extrapolating from other research) shows that the only thing highly dependent human babies have going for them is their sheer cuteness. Which prevents early parents from either killing them or abandoning them, in situations where the short-term biological investments outwieghed the long term benefit of propogating genetic material. Although the infant makes various demands on its mammal mother and sometimes the mother's consort, the emotional attachment grows together with the child as the kid gets increasingly cute and interactive, and the less cute babies had a lower chance of survival. Primitive parents were less likely to murder small children (with whom an emotional bond had already been forged, but are still physically vulnerable) than their infant siblings. There are a whole bunch of reasons for this, and it is actually a whole lot more complex than I'm hashing here, so if you are interested, please go read the book and we can discuss it by email.

My personal experience of the theory is that I didn't have any great hopes of instant maternal bonding with my daughter when she first showed up. I had read enough beforehand to know that expecting yourself to meet societal expectations as regards motherhood is one sure road to post-natal depression.

Instead I just let myself fall slowly in love with this little person, who is so much like me and yet exists completely independent of me.

The first photo is her at 7 months in the bath, trying to stuff Mr Bubble into her mouth. If you don't find that just plain adorable you probably have a heart of cement.

The second photo is just before her first birthday in Korea at my parent's home making her grandparents fall in love with her. She had been standing unaided but not quite walking. The slight hindarance to her great progress was that she used to stop every 2 steps to sit and applaud herself. It always cracked me up.

The third photo was just last month. She's on her way to a play-date, but stops to pick up some leaves to give to another little boy in the park. This is the first time she has taken independent initiative to give something to another random child (you could hear the excited cries of "GOOD SHARING SOPHIE!!" from here to Singapore)

Way to go Mr Pinker (et al) - I confirm that theory Maternal Affection in correlation to time theory....


Irreverent Football Tragic said...

I have a heart of cement but I find your little girl exceptionally cute and intriguing. Looking at the pics of this sweet little child suppresses my tendency to wish for mandatory sterilisation (at least, of all Australian males).

PS: Love the "mother's consort" bit.

Sprog Mamma said...

i do not feel very attached to lorenzo at this point since he is like a little blog but the mroe he looks into my eyes and begins to coo, the more he begins to melt my post partum depressed heart.