I never knew how protective I was until I had children.
Actually, I had a glimpse of it once before I even knew I was pregnant with my first child.
I was watching a movie about a young child who had been separated from his birth parents and was living on the streets. There was a scene where his parents were being reunited with their long-lost boy and I felt something deep in my spirit.
I had a clear thought: “I will do absolutely anything for the good of my children.” Hmm. Weird, I thought, since I don’t have kids. Fast forward a month and 5 positive pregnancy tests later. I remembered that scene and knew that being pregnant [even when I didn’t know it] had opened up a part of me previously undiscovered. And I’ve been fighting to control it ever since.
The Mama Bear Instinct
You know the feeling. It will ruin a perfectly good trip to the park, church or school. It starts small and quickly escalates to an almost uncontrollable urge to attack. You get a whiff of danger and you’re on alert. Slowly, as you monitor your surroundings and those of your bear cubs, you paint a picture. And plan your assault on the nearby predator. If you’re like me (and let’s hope you’re not) a dangerous bear cub situation can take a while to recover from. And I am talking about me, not my children.
Things that awaken the fight response.
1) Really hurt feelings
A while ago at church, an older child walked straight up to my daughter, pushed her down to the ground, and walked away. She’d been smiling as the girl walked up and then she started crying. I wanted to spank that girl’s mother and the little girl. And I don’t even spank. My daughter was fine, of course, and we can’t protect them from every little thing. Nor should we. But still… the mama bear feeling isn’t always rational is it?
There’s a book called Little Girls Can Be Mean: Four Steps to Bully Proof Girls in the Early Grades. My daughter is still too young for it, but it’s on my radar. Bullying is something that will make families pull children out to homeschool them. Effects of bullying is anxiety, fear, depression, feelings of loneliness, disruption of sleep, night waking and panic attacks. It’s horrible. I was personally bullied during my 6th grade year and remember the dread that consumes you until it’s over. If I even think about my children feeling that dread I develop fangs.
3) Dangerous situations
When my child has run toward the road when I could hear cars coming. When I saw my daughter carrying around my razor trying to shave her face (the protective lid was on, but still). When I saw her try to eat a cockroach trap…dismal parental failure.
Each of these times I felt a similar sensation that I can only compare to a rapid blood pressure drop coupled with an internal organ somersault. This feeling, much stronger than any I have had in regards to my own self, is probably the most altruistic feeling I’ve yet to experience. In those moments I feel that I would risk life and limb to make sure that nothing.ever.at all. will hurt my babies.
4) Sickness or injury
My baby girl was in the hospital for 3 days immediately after the birth of my second child, and she had to be hooked to an IV. She wouldn’t eat and barely slept. Her eyes were puffy and she was so lethargic that it actually broke off a piece of my heart.
It didn’t end up being life threatening, but for those entire three days I was a wreck. I felt so grateful that it was something as simple as it was and cried tears for parents whose children might not make it out with every member of their family. I would have traded places and done absolutely anything in the world to take her pain. I’ve always considered myself a deep person. That dug a trench twice as deep in my insides.
5) Instincts are strong
Google defines an instinct as, “an innate, typically fixed pattern of behavior in animals in response to certain stimuli.” Basically, your body is hard wired to respond in a certain way if you sense danger, and this relates to your kids too. It’s why we don’t want to let them learn how to handle risks. Or let them fall down and learn a lesson. It’s why we have to make an effort to back off and stop helicopter parenting. It’s because we instinctively want to interfere.
It’s nothing against anyone else, but Mama Bear Instinct says to run over anyone or anything in the path to the cub’s safety. Salivating stray dog? Send it to the pound. Un-fenced pool nearby? Put them on a life jacket 24/7. Mean neighbor? Kick her. Okay, I’m kidding… send her to the pound with the dog.
Read more about bullying and how to prepare your little girls here.
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