Beyond the Tiger Mother

Feb 26, 2011

Editor’s note: The following is from Lian Dolan’s Chaos Chronicles blog. Lian, in case you have been living in a cave, is the author of Helen of Pasadena, the novel that’s had the whole town talking (and reading).

Yes, yes, we all know about Tigers Moms, thanks to Amy Chua and the Wall Street Journal. If you’re like me, you like the idea of having an Animal Mom Persona, but the Tiger Mom is simply not your style. Maybe you couldn’t care less about your child’s string instrument mastery. No worries, the animal kingdom is full of maternal role models that can be exploited for your own personal PR boondoggle. Choose one from the list below and start your own controversial parenting cult.

Orangutan Mom's favorite phrase: Did you pick up your room? No, literally, did you pick up your room? 'Cause we are moving.

The Orangutan Mother: In the wild, the Orangutan Mother builds a new home for her family EVERY SINGLE NIGHT! That’s right! She is nature’s homemaker extraordinaire, creating over 30,000 homes from scratch over the course of her lifetime. Does this sound like you? Do you combine DIY skills with manic cleaning energy? Then call yourself an Orangutan Mom! You’re our homemaker extraordinaire: Your house is spotless, your curtains match your throw pillows, and you still have time to disinfect your children’s toys in the dishwasher every night! Your home is free of junk mail piles, old homework piles and holiday cards from years past piles. There’s no sitting on the couch after dinner for the Orangutan Mom—she’s too busy sorting the silverware drawer!

Who you calling chubby? Oh, no you di'int! Ima Polar Bear mom.

The Polar Bear Mother: Did you know that expectant polar bears put on 400 pounds during pregnancy? That’s right, 4-0-0! And you thought gaining 50 pounds was a little over the top. (I know I did, until it happened with baby #2. ) If you are still trying to lose that baby weight a decade after your last delivery, re-position yourself as a Polar Bear Mom! See, doesn’t that sound powerful and slightly threatening, as opposed to powerless before M&Ms and slightly schlumpy? Come on, Polar Bear Mom, slip on those expandable waistband pants and growl at any doc who suggests you finally shed those last ten pounds. Extra bonus: Real Polar Bear Moms sleep through childbirth! If only….

You get two years of my time, kids. Then you are on your own. Got it?

The Cheetah Mother: The Cheetah Mom is the hardest working woman on the African plains. She has a lot of kids, manages to feed them all by herself thanks to hunting and killing, teaches them all how to hunt for themselves, then boots them out of the house after two years and starts again with a whole new family. Whaaaaat? Don’t mess with Cheetah Mom! Do you have more than four children? Do they all know how to do their laundry and take public transportation? Can they fend for themselves in the kitchen, thanks to the microwave and mac & cheese? Are you looking forward to the day they are all out of the house, so you can start all over again, this time on you? Then start calling yourself a Cheetah Mom, mama, because you’ve earned your spots.

That's Octopus Mom, not Octomom. And don't you forget it.

The Octopus Mom: The Octopus Mom lays 50,000 eggs, then watches over them night and day for 40 days while they mature, defending her (potential) kids from the dangers of the deep. She is nature’s bodyguard, with child protection as Job #1. The eight arms really help her fight off predators and snatch a snack when she can. Of course, she eats her own eggs, but we can overlook that, because frankly, she scares us. So do those Octopus Moms on the sidelines who find fault in every call a ref makes against their child. Don’t try reasoning with Octopus Mom on the playground when her child steals your child’s bucket, because you are going down! Call yourself an Octopus Mom if you were an earlier adopter of the cellphone GPS monitoring system for your teens. Or maybe you are  watching tapes from your Nannycam right now? Then you, too, deserve the title Octopus Mom.

The Koala Mom: In the wild, the Koala Mom sleeps 22 hours a day, lives off only one food, and feeds her joeys potentially poisonous eucalyptus a little at a time until they build up a tolerance. In suburbia, the Koala Mom drives her children around in her minivan 22 hours a day, lives off of Diet Coke  and feeds her babies three squares in the back seat of the car until they build up a tolerance for juice boxes. Koala Moms, so cute and cuddly, as long as they don’t have to leave the front seat of the car.

The Seahorse Mom: Under the ocean, seahorses are the only species in which the male can carry a pregnancy, too. On land, Seahorse Moms mother like a father. Seahorse Moms don’t care if the kids are wearing the appropriate clothes to church. They let the kids have pizza for breakfast and cereal for dinner. And they allow dangerous play at all hours of the day and night, preferably with games involving balls in the house. Kids love going to playdates at Seahorse Mom’s house. Let’s get out the sharp objects and run at each other at high speeds!

Still lookin' good, Foxy Mama. Great highlights!

Foxy Moms: This has nothing to do with parenting. You have simply kept yourself up and you are one Foxy Mama. Good for you.

Are there other animal moms that inspire you? Let the Chaos Crew know in the comments.

Embracing my Chaos, Lian

Lian Dolan blogs and podcasts at and is the author of the bestselling novel Helen of Pasadena.



Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena