Changing roles


I want to hold her like this again.

My baby girl and I, circa 1988

When my girl was a baby, I was the one who always stepped up to protect her. I was the MammaBear, standing between my child and danger.  I wrapped my love around her, sheltering her from hurt.  

It is the role of the MammaBear to protect the child. Everyone knows that.  I knew it, I did it; I relished that role.  When my boys came along, I embraced my fierce protective MammaBear persona and I devoted myself to keeping my babies safe from every possible threat. 

Dangerous kidnapper killer man?  Get out of my way! I am the MammaBear!                                                                                       Nasty horrible flu virus? Begone! I am the wielder of the bleach! I shall vanquish you!

Mean people, yelling at my kid? Back off!  I am on the job and I will strike you down.

It was empowering. It was kind of cool.   I liked it.

But you know what? Time has gone by.  I’m still being the best MammaBear that I can be, but I’m getting older now.  My babies aren’t actually so fragile anymore.

And a strangely wonderful thing has begun to happen.

Sometimes the cubs are rising up to protect the Mamma.

In the past few months, I have had some very difficult interactions that have shaken my self-assurance and my belief in my own strength.  I’ve been rocked a bit.  When that has happened, my cubs have suddenly appeared at my side, with extra hugs and a few good laughs.  I’ve been surrounded by the realization that all three of them, without a question, “have my back”. 

Today was a really rough day.  It started with kids in conflict, progressed through a professional development lesson on the Common Core, move to a truly horrific phone call from angry, entitled parents, and ended 10 hours later with a flat tire. And just as I was fumbling in my purse for my phone and my AAA Card, with my hands and knees shaking, my no-longer-little girl calmly stated, “I’ll make the call.  You start the car.”

Limp with relief, too tired to object, I let her handle the whole thing.

And you know what? 

It was awesome.  

Maybe the true measure of being a strong “MammaBear” is the moment when the offspring rise up to take on the role of protector.

I mean, I hope that my babies still need me a little bit.  But I am really, truly happy to be able to hand off the stress once in a while. I kind of enjoyed saying, “You do it, honey!” and letting that capable young woman handle the latest little crisis.

I guess this means that MammaBear is ready to become  “Old Lady Bear”, huh?

7 thoughts on “Changing roles

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