Sunday, August 24, 2008

Maternal love

A few months ago, I bought the Planet Earth DVD set because I had watched some excerpts of it on tv and thought it was amazing! It's an 11 part documentary produced by BBC and has some of the most breath-taking shots I've ever seen on nature and wildlife.

(Here's the link for more details- The photo of the DVD cover below is taken from and the photos of the whales and panda are from the Planet Earth website - the link above by Discovery Channel)

This morning, we watched "Shallow Seas" with Osh Osh. One of the touching moments in it was of this Humpback Whale and her baby. Her baby is completely vulnerable for the first year of his life even though he is already 3 metres long at a few weeks old. The mother Humpback Whale stays with her young in shallow sea where there are no predators (and also no food!) and nurses him. He takes 500 litres of milk per day!

The mother whale also helps pushes her baby to the surface every now and again when he is tired in order for him to take in air. She does all this for 5 months until he is strong enough to swim with her to the deep ocean for food. All this time, she is starving for the sake of her young!

Likewise, another episode "Mountains" showed this Giant Panda and her young. She too spent a good few months in a small cave, hidden away from the outside world with her baby. The mother panda also starves as she is unable to leave her young to look for food for herself.

We also know of the journey that the mothers of the Emperor Penguins make over hundreds of miles to look for food for their young during the harsh winter. (Everyone who's watched The March of the Penguins or Happy Feet would know this) A lot of them don't make it back alive.

This maternal love that some animals have for their young made me think of how we human mothers care for ours. Yes, we say we make sacrifices and we love our children very much. However, I'm struck by how selfish I can be at times, complaining to DH about how tired I am looking after Osh Osh, how frustrated I get at Osh Osh when he misbehaves, how I hate all those sleepless nights when he's not well and the list goes on.

Recently, the government has proposed many incentives for the people in this country to have more children as our birthrate are dropping. These incentives include tax rebates, subsidies, longer maternity leave and leave to be taken by parent of babies and young children.

I'm wondering if all these incentives will prompt the nation to have more children. Are we so selfish and self-centred that we will only think of procreation when there is some monetary value to it? I am not disputing that having a child and ensuring that the child has a good life does not involve money. I'm not that naive. However, is this really the solution to our nation's childless woes?

The images of the starving Mother Panda and the patient Humpback Whale are etched in my mind. Are we humans really better living beings?

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