recently watched a nature program that showed herds of zebras and wildebeests
crossing a swift, crocodile infested river together. The footage followed a
mother and foal as they became separated. Both made it to shore but were too
far apart to know where the other had landed. The camera moved between the colt
that was too tired to jump up a tall embankment and his mother’s
frantic search for him.
became excruciating to watch as she swam back across the river filled with
menacing crocs to search for her baby. All the while, he was being pushed aside
by other frenzied animals jumping up to safety. When Mom didn’t find Junior,
she plunged back into the river and fought her way to the other side for the
as she was clambering out of the water, a crocodile grabbed a back hoof, and we
just knew she was goner. But that mother kicked and struggled until she was
In the meantime, Junior finally made it up the bank to the herd where he began
crying for his mother. The narrator told us mothers recognize their colt’s
cries, but this baby would perish if they weren’t reunited soon.
Mom and Junior found one another, and he immediately began to nurse. All was well.
The two would be inseparable until it was time for him to make it on his
watching that show, I’ve thought a lot about motherhood and the inborn impulse
to protect and nurture. If you’ve ever lost track of your child or been through
a crisis where your children were in a different location, you’ve shared that
mother’s panic. It can make us clingy and cause difficulty when it’s time to
let our children make their own way in the great big world.
I wonder if men have a better understanding of
the need for that natural separation process. My husband was always the voice of reason when I was conflicted about
whether to rescue or stand pat with our kids. With his help, I’ve usually been
able let our children and now grandchildren struggle a little when I really wanted
to jump in and rescue them. (It’s even harder with grandchildren!)
|The Hoofman calves want their Mommies!|
time to grow up and make our own way in the world comes to all species. Some, like college
freshmen, are champing at the bit to be on their own. But others like these
calves, would rather stick close to mom and let her feed them long past time to
be weaned. Our friends who raise cattle had to step in and separate these cry babies from their mothers.
Debbie tells me they cried for days. She wishes they had
consulted the Farmer’s Almanac to choose the optimum time to wean them, which
is based on when the moon is in the signs of Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. (They rule the thighs, knees, ankles, and feet.) I don't know about that, but I do know it's hard to see our children suffer even when in our hearts we know it's for their own good.
I'm sure it was distressing for those cows to hear their babies bawling for three or four days. But they eventually stopped and began to eat special pellets known as cow candy. Don’t you know that was a relief to everyone involved!
Three cheers to all you mothers who have struggled through giving your young’uns the freedom to conquer the world!
And courage to those who will face that someday!
How about you? Do you have some separation stories to share.
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
Labels: cattle, coming of age, motherhood, Nature, parenting, zebras