Last Sunday night I was in an ordinary place. The Little Lion was troubling me, I was feeling responsible, fragile and overwhelmed and every one of my buttons had been pummeled to the max. So I decided a nice glass of godly nectar and some mindless wildlife documentary would help soothe my soul.
Within the first five minutes of the documentary about mountain gorillas, I was so shamed by their superior mothering skills that I had to turn the TV off and go weep in the shower.
I’m not kidding. I was put to shame by a gorilla. And not just any gorilla. A MALE GORILLA! Yep. One of those chest-beating, tooth-baring, grunt-making, harem-keeping, male-archetyping silverbacks.
His daughter had been badly injured in one of his battles for superiority (typical), she had been saved by watchful humans and, after being suckled back to health, mum abandoned her for a better-looking silverback (hussy). So what did dad do? Took her on, of course. Here was a big, hairy brute hugging, grooming, nurturing, playing and sleeping with his little girl as much as she needed whenever she needed.
Did he ever complain that she was taking over his life? No. Did he bemoan the loss of his personal space? No. And for how long do baby gorillas maintain complete and unconditional dominion over their parents? At least five whole, long, exhausting years.
I know, there are attachment parenting advocates who would be smiling serenely right about now, wondering what all the fuss is about. But seriously, WHO CAN DO THAT? And how, pray tell? How?
So here I am after two and a half years hoping that LL gets his toilet training shit together so I can ship him off to the most beautiful preschool in the world ASAP! I am beating myself up for having had him in a daycare situation that was less than ideal, but now that I’ve taken him out, I’m wondering how I’m going to make it through to October when he is (hopefully) going to start at that most beautiful preschool in world. Oh he’s great and I love him and all, but there is only so much tractoring I can do before wanting to dig my own grave.
I kid you not, I have been stewing over this bloody perfect gorilla father all week.
And I have come to the conclusion that there are a few external pressures that we humans experience on a daily basis that gorillas generally don’t have to deal with and that’s why he gets to be a fountain of self-sacrificing patience and I get to be crabby cow – washing for a start, they don’t have houses to clean, meals are generally “eat what you can find” affairs, nappies don’t exist, nor do appointments, bills, groceries, and and and and and and…
So I’ve decided that I’m going to live a week of Gorilla Parenting. There will be no cleaning. There will be no cooking. There will be no washing and the children can run like little heathens though the mud. I’ll try to maintain basic personal hygiene so that Social Services don’t come a-knocking, but we’ll graze on whatever is handy, we’ll play and rumble and lounge and bask in the slowness of each day. We’ll laugh and sing and climb and swing. We’ll cuddle and snooze and just be.
The only rub is that gorilla mummies have lots of other gorilla mummies around to hang out with, to share the gossip with, to co-supervise with, to parent with. Gorilla babies have other gorilla babies to play with, to learn from, to be distracted by, to explore with.
Yep, I need a harem. So, who’s in?