Family Friday

From Mama Bear to Mama Swan

This week I wasn’t very good about taking pictures of the family activities.  We were super busy with school, work, opening a show, and prepping to send Hannah off on her mission.  I really should do better at it though, or Family Friday will begin to get rather boring!  Perhaps what I should do is invite all my kids to be guest authors on Fridays and they can report what they are up for themselves.  With three of them living outside of my home and starting their own families and adult lives, I don’t really have the inside scoop on them any more.

Here are the only picture I have of the weeks activities:

I can report that the Mama Bear came out this week and I needed to tell her to calm down.  Nothing brings out Mama Bear in me more than hearing other kids speak unkindly to or about my kids.  Seriously! That Mama Bear instinct can start small and quickly escalate to an almost uncontrollable urge to attack.  It’s dangerous.  I am trying to control it.  However, when I get a whiff of “danger” I am on alert.  I monitor my surroundings and those little “bear cubs” of mine.  Once I don’t trust you with my kids, it takes a LONG time to recover… the trust.

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I’ve always identified with the bear. (click here to read my post Ode to Being a Bear).  The Mama Bear is my spirit animal.  It represents maturity, skill, competence, intelligence, and ferocious loyalty to her young.  She will rip to shreds anyone who dares to interfere with her cubs; her teeth rip into the danger without remorse or concern.  Mama Bear is often there to nurture anyone who is vulnerable to the destructive power of an inhumane authority or opponent.

I don’t mind having the Mama Bear experience and wisdom.  I know what to do when under pressure and there are very few problems too large for me to tackle and solve.  I don’t mind when called upon to stand as an authority, oozing integrity, or to stand as a voice of reason like Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mocking Bird or Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect (two of my favorite shows).  However, I do fear the irrational rage that roars through my heart and mind, and sometimes out loud, when someone goes after my kids.

What awakens this irrational Mama Bear, you may ask.

Really hurting feelings.  Intentionally belittling others and spreading gossip about others.  The internet has made this worse.  Videos, pictures, posts, all created to paint someone in a bad light really eat at me.

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Bullies.  Dude!  Add that to the reason I home schooled until my kids hit high school.  The effects of bullying include anxiety, fear, depression, feeling alone, sleepless nights, and panic attacks.  It’s horrible.  Trust me.  I was bullied in junior high… laughed at for my weight and for how I dressed and for being poor to the point of I would refused to shower after P.E.  I’d rather take the F.  I was even tied to a fence and left outside until a teacher came to find me.  I wanted to protect my kids from the meanness of other kids, but even home schooling didn’t protect my kids from bullies.

Bullies bring out the fangs in this Mama Bear.

Dangerous situations bring out the irrational Mama Bear in me.  I don’t run… but when my kids are in danger I would risk life and limb to make sure that nothing ever hurts my babies!

Sickness or injury brings out the Mama Bear in me.  I’ve been at the births of three of my grandkids… Granamama Bear came out. (grin)  But nothing brings out Mama Bear like a mysterious illness or a broken bone.  Thankfully, my kids have not encountered life threatening illness nor injuries.

Google defines instinct as, “an innate, typically fixed pattern of behavior in an animal in response to certain stimuli.”  Basically, I am hard wired to respond like a Mama Bear when I sense danger.  That is why it’s hard to take a step back and stop helicopter parenting, to not interfere with my kids learning and growing experiences.  Sometimes it is hard not to bite someone’s head off.  I’d rather be a Mama Swan, peacefully gliding through life with all my little cygnets in a row.  I’m not.  I’m a swan-faced mom with the heart of a 400 Grizzly.

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The thing about Mama Bears is that deep down we long to control our universe so that we can protect the people we love.  As a Christian I know that this is impossible… at least on some level.  I understand agency and God’s plan, but that doesn’t stop the feelings to try and control the universe (just look at the title of my blog – I am still working on resigning as the general manager of the universe and having very little success).  I am working on restraining myself.

Being the General Manager of the Universe is exhausting. I under estimated how much more work would be done with my heart, rather than my hands when I started being a mom.  The more people we add to our family, with spouses and grand children, the more my heart carries around.  Worry.  Love.  Concern.  Joy.  Pain. Affection.  Fear.  Safety for kids.  Mean people.  Feelings of loneliness.  Disappointing news.  Plans for the future.  I want to “fix” everything!  I can’t for one simple reason.  I’m not Jesus.

The thing is, when my husband, my kids (including their spouses) and grand kids are not okay, I’m not okay.  Perhaps it’s because I don’t want to be “long-suffering,” I want it “fixed” now.  I know that Mama bears, like me, are protective and controlling and sometimes even selfish.  Thus, I am working on calming the Mama Bear.  I am working on NOT short-circuiting what God wants in someone’s life, just so I don’t have to uncomfortably watch from the side lines.

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When a child feels friendless or when people are saying mean things about them; when a child is worried about a life process; when a child moves away for school; when a child is frustrated with the long processes of life changing decisions; when a child suffers from anxiety and a little bit of OCD; when a child feels bad about their self image and self worth, this Mama Bear is working on walking the long, painful road with them to teach them to trust the Savior rather than sharpening fangs and claws.

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“Trust in the Lord, with all Thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he hall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore, will not we fear, though the earth be moved, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah… God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God shall help her, and that right early.” Psalms 46:1-5

So… I attempt to put the Mama Bear back into her cave.  I attempt to sail gracefully like a Mama Swan.  Outwardly I succeed most days.  Inwardly, I struggle.  The bullies, the gossipers, the mean spirited, you had best watch out.  I am on alert.  I may be controlling the claws and teeth right now, but there is no telling how well I will succeed in being long-suffering.  And it’s not for you that I make the effort.  It’s for my kid.  My kids need the chance to develop faith and hope and charity without the Mama Bear running interference.  However, you have been warned.

Now I work on being a Mama Swan, full of grace.

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