Why are mothers so proud of their babies?

May 24, 2014

Quite a few of my female colleagues went and had babies recently. Now whenever I run into them they feel the need to whip out their phones and show me the new cute thing that their kid just did. Most of the photos depict kids in diapers busy drooling.

An ex-colleague and friend, let’s call her Lucy, who went to the US to pursue an MBA visited me recently after spending two years in the US. However, she didn’t have enough time to have lunch with me. Why? A friend of hers (another colleague, let’s call her Mary) had a baby recently. Since Lucy didn’t have enough time to go to Mary’s home to admire her new baby, she was obliged to at least have lunch with Mary and coo over photos of her baby.

This is something I’m having a hard time understanding. Sure, I’m very proud of the things I’ve made. Whenever I make some fancy changes to this site or add a combination of plugins that makes emacs behave in a cool way, I have the urge to show it off to my friends. But these are things that actively consumed several hours of my time. Working on them involved most of the following:

  1. Sit down and think about the goals
  2. Solve several problems, both anticipated and not
  3. Hunt around on the internet
  4. Test corner cases
  5. Make the end result look pretty.

It’s a lot of effort, and that’s what makes the end result worthwhile and something to be proud of. On the other hand, the process of making babies goes something like this:

  1. Have unprotected sex
  2. Eat more and become bigger
  3. Start working from home after the first quarter
  4. Take maternity leave halfway-through the second quarter
  5. Eat some more and become even more bloated
  6. Pee a lot
  7. Spend a few hours screaming and squeezing the baby out your vagina

And there, that’s their baby! They have absolutely no control over how it turns out. It’s not like they work out to make sure that the baby is born healthy, or read books on quantum physics to make it smarter. Mother nature does most of the work, and how the baby turns out is ultimately decided by what it gets in the genetic lottery.

So, why are mothers so proud of their babies? Do they actually imagine that they put as much effort into making them as I put into my projects?