Mother and Child, acrylic, 5 x 7, Elizabeth W. Seaver
Do you suppose a mother royal penguin feels guilt about failing her child? I don't really imagine that she does. Her life is too hard and too full of all it takes to survive. Of course, her offspring's survival is the main goal of her maternal role, and she is, after all, a bird and not a human.
Nonetheless, it must be nice to be free of guilt and worry about the moral and ethical development of said child; does he/she need glasses for all these years (and the mother not know it, for pete's sake!) --and anxiety that time is running out to do all the teaching a human mother is supposed to do. Now, I'm lucky because I have a human father in my child's life to help in the nurturing of my not-so wee-ones.
That's one of the cool things about these penguins, as you may know. They mate for life and shift the egg-child and the responsibility for its warmth until hatching back and forth for 35 days. They rotate 12 day shifts.
They also share the babysitting duties, the father often taking the first 10 to 20 days while the mother brings them both food. (This sentence reminds me that my husband got right put out once when someone asked him if he was babysitting our older child. M.H. responded, "I'm not babysitting; I'm parenting.") Go, M.H.!
I love the fact that penguins are colonial animals, meaning they live in large groups together and often share care giving in nurseries of sorts. We do that.
One big difference between our children and a penguin child is that after 65 days a penguin chick has its adult feathers and is ready to fend for itself. Our servitude is considerably longer if we're lucky and terminally long if there is failure to launch.
If, from my more or less random musings on the life of the royal penguin, you have been left with the impression that I'd prefer her life to mine at the moment, consider that it is college application time at our house.
We will survive it. (I know this because we've been through it before and lived to tell the tale.)