If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from being a mother, it’s that you’ve got to learn to adapt to whatever parenthood throws your way. Making plans or having expectations is always one thing, and of course, reality is usually another.
Although the ability to adapt to new situations as they arise is certainly something that is beneficial for a mother or a father, I began to wonder when we parents would start to really adapt to parenthood; I’m talking some serious, sciencey Darwin-style changes.
In case you’ve forgotten your middle school biology terms, adaptation is defined as a mutation or genetic change that helps an organism to survive in it’s environment. Due to the helpful nature of the mutation, it’s passed down from one generation to the next.
Since most parents are already exhausted, I don’t think we should have to come up with any new adaptations on our own. It seems to me that it would be much simpler to take a look at what’s already working for other species and pick and choose some adaptations that would also suit our parental needs.
Here’s some of nature’s most well-known adaptations I think parents really need to start developing:
1. Holding Your Breath for Long Periods of Time: The sperm whale has the ability to hold its breath for up to 90 minutes! Anyone who’s been on diaper duty or who’s had to assist a potty-training tot with wiping, knows how beneficial the ability to holds one’s breath for an extended period of time would be. This adaptation would have benefits well beyond the early years of child-rearing too. Anyone responsible for washing sweaty gym clothes or sportswear for their child, as well as anyone who has had to venture into or close by a teenage boy’s room knows this would be a remarkable trait to develop.
2. Wide-Opening Mouth: Apparently, it’s a pretty big misconception that snakes can unhinge their jaws in order to eat their prey. National Geographic explains that snakes have the capability to regularly consume animals 75 to 100% their size because “snakes have no chin, no chin bone, and so their jaws aren’t connected the way ours are. There’s nothing to dislocate. Instead there are really stretchy ligaments that determine how wide the mouth can open.” While a parent might not have the need to consume something 75-100% larger they are, the ability to open our jaws wide enough to stuff an entire cupcake, sleeve of cookies, or an ice cream cone into our mouths without the risk of choking – or more importantly sharing with any of our offspring – would be incredibly beneficial.
3. Webbed Feet – While some birds and mammals have webbed feet to help them swim, I think parents could use them more for catching liquids. Before becoming a parent I never realized how often I’d be using my non-webbed paws to catch baby spit-up, spills like juice and milk, and even kid puke. Granted, I’d prefer not to catch any of these things in my hands, but I’ve not yet found a viable alternative that would save me from scrubbing said liquids from couches, rugs or other upholstered items. So yes, some webbed hands would come in…handy. Please and thank you.
4. Camouflage – An animal’s ability to blend in with its surroundings is probably one of my favorite adaptations! Can you imagine sitting on your couch, folding laundry (aka eating bon-bons, watching TV next to a basket of laundry) and being able to blend in among the cushions and clothing when a kid comes in looking to tell you that a) their sibling isn’t playing nice with them on Minecraft or b) wants to ask you for money or C) wants to talk Pokemon? I can. Oh, I really can. Sign me up and blend me in!
5. Sonar/Echo Location – Dolphins have the ability to send out sound waves that are like a click. When those sounds hit an object, it bounces back vibrations to the dolphins that allows them to identify where those objects are located. They can even determine size and shape of the objects just from those vibrations. Now, I’m not a marine biologists, but my research suggests even the males and young dolphins seem to be able to find stuff without having to ask the females for assistance. Echolocation – or ohmygoddoyouevenlivehereitsbeeninthesamespotforeverlocation – would be particularly beneficial to human mothers given both the inability of Dads and offspring alike to locate anything on their own without her assistance. Any Mom who has uttered, “It’s been in the same place for 10 years!” or “Keep walking straight ahead and you’ll literally run into it!” would simply love even if echolocation was an adaptation we could give to Dads and kids. We already know how to find shit.
6. Hooves – Dall Sheep have hooves that developed to allow them to navigate slippery, rocky terrain with great ease. Although parents usually aren’t scaling cliffs as a part of their daily routine, many have to climb over mountains of toys and laundry, and any parent who has ever stepped on LEGO brick would likely wish they had feet specially designed to handle the often jagged, plastic blocks. It sure would have helped me the time I went LEGO Walking.
7. Flight – I can think of a thousand different ways I’d use the ability to fly as a parent, but basically, it would just be totally cool.
8. Fur – Animals with fur have used this hairy adaptation to reap a number of benefits such as blending in with their environments and being able to withstand extreme temperatures. Oddly enough, especially after having three kids and hitting thirty, I seem to be acquiring this trait myself. With my Tom Selleck mustache, stray chin hairs, legs that get five o’clock shadows, I’m thinking of changing my name to the Divine Secrets of a Domestic Sasquatch. I’m not sure what the benefit of all this fur is – maybe staying warm at my kid’s soccer games – so stay tuned. This adaptation seems to be developing.
9. Humps – My humps! My humps! My caffeinated humps! Okay, recently it’s been discovered that camels don’t actually store water in their humps; they’re actually just big fat deposits. But I’m not a biologist, and since I have no credibility of any kind (scientific or otherwise), we’ll make the joke on the previous misunderstood humps. Let’s just say if I was like Sally the camel and I had two humps, I’d have one with a caffeine reserve and the other filled with margaritas. You just never know what parenthood will send your way, best to be prepared.
What am I missing? Any other animal adaptations we parents should develop? Leave me a comment, I love hearing from you!