What I Learned About Motherhood From Watching The Seals
I’m not really a “talk to the animals” type. If you are, that’s great; there’s probably something missing or broken in my soul. But at any rate, it was a surprise to me when I went to La Jolla, California, and observed something while watching seals that I could apply to myself.
I love seals; in fact my business, “SelkieMum”, is named for seal-people of Celtic mythology, so it’s really kind of funny how moved I was watching the seal mummas and their pups. When we first arrived at the Children’s Beach, where tons of seals congregate, the air was pierced by the heart-rending cries of a seal pup. You would swear he was calling his mother, and he was indeed a tiny fellow. As we walked on, we saw five seal mothers with their new pups on a secluded part of the beach. Just mummas and babies there, coming in one by one.
Baby Seal Nuzzled
One baby seal started nursing while they were still part way in the surf. He nuzzled his mum and she rolled over to give him access. Big waves would come up and pull him away, but they would find their way back together.
The seals look so ungainly out of the water, though they are graceful swimmers. Most of the seals that we saw lounging on the rocks didn’t get anywhere fast. However, when the waves took a seal pup from it’s mum, it was was a different story. She’d book it after that little guy so fast! She’d place her body between him and the surf and herd him back to shore. It was amusing and reminded me of running after my own little ones.
Where the mumma went, the baby went. The thing I took away from watching the seals was how simple and natural motherhood was to them. They didn’t wonder if they were doing enough projects with the babies. They didn’t plan their day around their child and yet the pup was included in everything. The seal mummas went about their business while still feeding and protecting their child. They didn’t spend their time worrying about getting it right–they just lived.
Learn from Mother Seal
People aren’t seals and our lives are far more complex. Still, I think that the image of the seal families is valuable. What I brought home with me is that I want to allow my kids to be near me, like they always want to be, and make them part of the things I need to do. Let them do dishes with me and put away laundry, plant seeds and wash the floor. It’s not easy to do, and I haven’t even figured out HOW to do it when what I need to do is write, as it often is. Still, I was inspired.
I also went on a whale watch, and the marine biologists on board told us that when we saw two dolphins leaping out of the water in sync, it was a mother and baby. I don’t know how to get perfectly in sync with my children–we seem to be in jarring discord too much of the time–but it was another beautiful picture that I want to emulate.