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?