I remember the first time someone pointed out my fierceness as a mama bear. Oddly enough, it was my oldest son, Michael. He was 15 at the time. There was a problem scheduling his classes and he warned the counselor, “You don’t want my mom to come in to get this fixed.” What flashed through my mind was, “Who was this mom and could she give me some pointers?” It was with shock that I realized it was me.
I have always advocated for my children since the day they were born. I didn’t consider myself fierce. I just did what I needed to do to get my children what they needed. It was as natural to me as breathing. Upon hearing that Michael saw me in this way, I was overcome. I feared that I could never live up to his expectations or whatever this image of me was. I scoured my memory for times he might have seen me acting in this way. I needed examples. I felt overwhelmed.
If you know me, you’ll know that I’m quite reserved, quiet, shy, private. I tend to not have a huge presence in a room and that is by choice. I don’t speak up in large groups. In fact, social anxiety tends to grip me by the throat and render me speechless at times, ensuring that I remain silent.
Except when it comes to my kids. But I guess I need to clarify- I’m not one of those vocal, loud, pushy parents. When I’m fighting for my children, I do it the same way I do everything else- quietly but persistently. I won’t make a scene but I will press the issue. I won’t attack but I will come to the battle armed with enough ammunition to take out an army, if needed. And if I need to use force, it will probably be so under the radar you won’t know what happened. It’s not that I’m being sneaky or deceitful- I just function much better one on one. This is one time when being an over-thinker comes in handy. Since I’ve probably thought up every possible outcome, I will come prepared with counter arguments.
The thing about being a fierce mama bear is that when your cubs grow up you need to step back and act in a way that goes against every parenting instinct you have. When they are struggling, any advice you offer has to be done carefully so as not to appear to be implying you think they cannot handle things. And sometimes it can’t appear to even be advice, depending on the level of independence of the child.
Helping our children stand on their own is something we begin doing the day they are born. It’s part of the end goal so it’s not a huge surprise when it happens. BUT it doesn’t lessen the sting…. especially when it’s your cub.
As I found out recently, even though your cubs might be grown, maybe even with little cubs of their own, that doesn’t stifle “fierce mama” mode when your cub is attacked- especially unprovoked….. double especially with whipped cream on top when your cub is attacked while going above and beyond what the average person would do to be there for another person.
I’m finding it difficult to hold back that uncontrollable desire to protect my child. Once again, by friendly fire, one of my own has been attacked- completely unfounded- and all I can do is stand by and let him fight his battle. He knows that I’m standing there, just in the shadows…. waiting. It’s one of those parenting moments when I have to stay still and let him pick himself up, but once he’s standing again, I will be there in a flash to help. And if he flounders and needs a hand up, he knows that I’m within reach at all times.
Thinking back to those days when he was a small child and he fell, I remember that instinct to cry out, rush over and pick him up. After the first few times of doing exactly that, which resulted in him crying (caused by my reaction- not the fall), I quickly realized that he needed to get himself back on his feet and determine if this was worth the tears or not. It might be considered tough love by some but I’ve stood by this belief- always close by if the situation warranted assistance and if all was well, calling out “You’re okay!”
It’s not that simple these days. The tumbles are much bigger with higher stakes at risk. My cub is hurting and this mama bear is on high alert.
“Every mom has a mission to love,, guide and protect her family.
Don’t mess with her while she’s on it.” -Vicki Reece