June 2017: Greetings from Lady Dunrovin
One of the many benefits of my writing this magazine is that is has made me ever so much more aware of ordinary things about which I have never really thought. For example, I never gave the timing of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day any consideration. However, on reflection, I now see that they are perfectly timed to correspond with nature’s spring birthing season. How can we not notice the hard work and dedication of animal parents everywhere during spring’s annual renewal?
My lack of connecting Mother’s Day and Father’s Day to annual birth cycles may be because humans do not follow this pattern. We are the exception. Statistics for both the United States and the European Union indicate high birth rates during July, August, and September. Why is this? Clearly animals time their birthing seasons to correspond with the seasons of plenty—births in the spring just before the summer bounty of the earth when resources are more readily available. Modern human societies have broken this relationship by securing resources year-round. However, studies do show that in those parts of the world where resources remain at risk, birth month does influence child survival.
I love what watching family life at the Dunrovin ospreys’ nest has done to open my mind to examine and contemplate gender roles within animals and humans. During my lifetime, the roles of men, women, mothers, and fathers within our society has been contentious and ever-changing, shifting from rigidly defined gender norms to a more fluid scale of acceptable behaviors and expectations for both genders. I embrace these changes and am grateful that we all have more latitude to define ourselves individually.
The ospreys don’t seem to contemplate such matters as they go about the business of forming families. While they most definitely have clearly defined gender roles, they also show lots of variations and some fluidity as to how those roles play out. The web cameras have taught us that osprey life is way more complex than scientists initially thought. Some of the behaviors described in the scientific literature regarding osprey behavior does not uniformly apply. Ospreys, like humans, have individual characteristics and display latitude in their defined roles as parents.
What this says to me as we celebrate the birthing season, along with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, is that there are many ways to be a good parent, and that perhaps one of the best ways is to be one’s own best person rather than trying to adhere to preconceived notions of what the roles means. Being a parent is learning a new dance with each child, and no two dances are alike.
It wasn’t until I became a mother that I honestly contemplated the suitability of my husband as a father. Romantic love seems to squeeze out any sort of sensible thinking about what characteristics we might in want in a potential parenting partner. I know of no one who had a checklist of desirable parenting attributes that they used to evaluate a potential mate. Love seemed to be all that mattered.
But the truth is that many things do matter when it comes to sharing a child with someone. In my own case, I really lucked out with my selection. Sterling has all of the important characteristics I would want in a father to my children. He loves them unconditionally. He is fair and just and supportive. He is a much better nurse than I am, not to mention his superior cooking skills. He values family; he puts us first. He makes sacrifices on our behalves. He is honest, trustworthy, and totally loyal. I could not ask for a better father for my children. I am grateful to dance my parenting dance with him and our sons, Jake and Mark.
All of our D@D community members love sharing their family stories about their own mothers, fathers, children, and grandparents. The security of knowing that our community is one predicated on respect and kindness makes it easy to share personal stories. This is one of the primary reasons that the D@D community is a subscription-based. Our subscription serves three very important purposes:
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