Tuesday, July 04, 2006

mammals

Yes. We are.

Maybe it's easier to think we're all set apart and special and imago Dei and forget that we are also obviously an animal--a mammal--when you don't actually get to watch yourself produce milk.

Breastfeeding is amazing, really. It's sweet and precious and even a little noble. It's everything that the Womanly Art tells you it is. But it's also a reminder that we are animals producing milk to feed our young just like any other. I guess it really didn't hit me till I had to use the breast pump. Where breastfeeding is all about the baby, and you get to gaze down adoringly at her and think loving thoughts and feel good about yourself nourishing this little living thing in your arms, pumping is just about getting the milk out. And you gaze down clinically at the cold plastic thingy suctioned up against your boob and watch a little disbelievingly as milk spurts out from your own body and pretty soon you've got half a bottle of proof that you too are just another mammal.

Perhaps "just another" is a bit strong. It's not that I really feel like a literal cow or anything. But I can't help thinking about how much this amazing capability signals my place among others in the animal world. Does this make human beings any less special, to acknowledge this undeniable continuity? I can't see why. On the contrary, I think it's a precious thing to realize that we too belong to Creation in such an integral way--we aren't just plopped down here by the hand of God into a world that doesn't really know us or belong to us. Instead, we belong to it and it belongs to us.


Glass of milk
Standing in between extinction in the cold
And explosive radiating growth
So the warm blood flows
Through the large four-chambered heart
Maintaining the very high metabolism rate they have

Mammal, mammal
Their names are called
They raise a paw
The bat, the cat
Dolphin and dog
Koala bear and hog

One of us might lose his hair
But youre reminded that it once was there
From the embryonic whale to the monkey with no tail
So the warm blood flows
With the red blood cells lacking nuclei
Through the large four-chambered heart
Maintaining the very high metabolism rate they have

Mammal, mammal
Their names are called
They raise a paw
The bat, the cat
Dolphin and dog
Koala bear and hog
Placental the sister of her brother marsupial
Their cousin called monotreme
Dead uncle allotheria

Mammal, mammal
Their names are called
They raise a paw
The bat, the cat
Dolphin and dog
Koala bear and hog
The fox, the ox
Giraffe and shrew
Echidna, caribou

12 comments:

TKP said...

Fortunately, your mammal offspring is adorable!! Is that ditty your creation?

Tracy said...

I've always hated, loathed pumping. It hurts, its impersonal, its more work and its less effective. I find it just another example of how thoughtful God was to provide us with this amazing ability to easily produce food for our babies.

And yet, our oversexualized culture shuns women who are feeding their baby outside of the home but OK's half naked waitresses at restaurants. Go figure.

Casey said...

This song is all that got me through high school biology.

JTB said...

TKP! I am so astounded that you do not recognize the genius of They Might Be Giants. May I humbly suggest that you look into rectifying this terrifying cultural lack in the very near future...

JTB said...

Maybe Hooters should look into the hiring possibilities offered by breastfeeding moms? After all this is the only time in my life I for one will ever come near to having the, ah, qualifications...then perhaps the Hooters-loving public would get a much more well-rounded (heh heh) picture of what breasts really are for...

pat said...

I saw on the local news the other night where breastfeeding moms were "picketing" in a sense, Victoria's Secret. Apparently, a breastfeeding mom was asked to leave a Victoria's Secret store for being indecent. The moms were on TV just sitting at the storefront nursing, very discreetly I might add. At least they got on TV about their cause and Victoria's Secret has issued an apology and pledges to set up an area where women can breastfeed. I hope this "area" is not a bathroom stall! What a weird and confused culture we live in.

Tracy said...

Aren't they called 'nurse-ins'? When Chloe was a little baby we were on vacation in New England and wandering around a little downtown. I went into a clothing store and she needed to eat so I went into a dressing room to feed her (back then, I didn't want to cover up and walk around). A woman knocked on the door and told me that I was taking too long and that I had to leave! As I walked out there were several women standing around that looked at me like I was an alien or naked for nursing my baby in there. It wasn't the only dressing room.

I shoulda complained to someone somewhere.

Katie said...

The song that cracked me up while nursing: Veggie Tales' "You are his cheeseburger / his tasty cheeseburger / he'll be back for you / he'll be back for you..." This may be one of those in-the-family jokes that's not funny to anyone else, but I'll bet most nursing moms have those mammalian moments.

Once I watched the mama gorilla at the Bronx Zoo swat at her toddler as s/he climbed all over mama's body -- I couldn't figure out what s/he wanted -- till I saw Mama roll her eyes (I'm not kidding!) and offer her breast to the little one.

But a whole 'nother perspective on this breastfeeding thing happens when you're presiding over the communion table and you say the words of Jesus: "Take, eat; this is my body." Breastfeeding is seriously sacramental. Holy half-hours, many times a day and night. Enjoy.

peace -- Katie Hays

Andrea Sue said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrea Sue said...

Hey Jen, Great Post, it's definitely something to think about. I know nursing must be an amazing feeling. Your like a human refridgerator. I hope someday and God willing I will have that opportunity. Anyway, I wanted to tell you that I missed seeing your face in Brooklyn this Sunday.

Take care,

Sue

TKP said...

Jen,
After your chastising, I listened to every single TMBG song I have; unfortunately, it does not include the mammal song. Hey, guess what I did last night? Spent an hour at the hospital with an IV. I think the kindergarden kids poisoned me earlier in the afternoon.

steller said...

well i must say.. i'm enjoying my life as a mammal doing a lot of interaction with my fellow mmmals in webdate.com.. thank god i belong to the higher class mammal and was gifted with rationality or i wouldn't be typing this crap..