Monday, August 24, 2009

Even in the Animal Kingdom (Motherhood is a Pain in the Ass)

Hubby and I just got back from a week-long vacation camping at Assateague State Park in Maryland. For those of you who have never heard of Assateague, it's a state park that is located on a barrier island, so we were camping on the beach all week. Heaven!

There's plenty of beautiful wildlife at Assateague, the star attraction being the wild ponies that inhabit the island. Of course, it being the shore, there are also plenty of seagulls, and those of you who have had experiences with seagulls know that they are adorable, but they can sometimes be annoying.

Every morning, all morning long, there was this annoying, loud, relentless screeching like nails on a chalkboard coming from the dune behind our campsite. Upon closer inspection I observed that it was the sound of a baby seagull screeching for food from its mother. The baby was almost as big as the mother, and able to fly, but apparently he was still dependent on his mother for feedings. All morning long he would stand right next to her, pace in circles around her, while loudly screeching in her face, demanding food from his mother. The mother gull would try to ignore him, or occasionally (we observed) try to get away from him. We never did see her feed the baby, but she did seem to be annoyed by him (or maybe we were just projecting?)

Hubby and me just had to laugh. Even in the animal kingdom, motherhood is a royal pain-in-the-ass.

1 comment:

firefly said...

The really interesting thing about animals, most of whom have a short cycle of reproduction, is how the mothers actively kick their children out when they're old enough.

We adopted a stray kitten once who hadn't been weaned properly. He would curl up around our necks and try to nurse on our earlobes.

The advice I got from a cat owner listserv was to hiss and push him away, the same as a mother cat would when weaning.

The reality is that offspring have to beg and manipulate parents to take care of them, and when the parents have devoted enough effort, out the kids go so they can recharge.

None of this romantic, misty-eyed parent mythology -- much less moving back in with Mom and Dad until you're 35!