While it’s been with me for awhile, I truly experienced “The Mama Bear” instinct this weekend. I inherited this from my mom, who always reminded me that “blood is thicker than water” and family comes first. She wasn’t one of those moms who thought I could do no wrong (thank goodness). I grew up with a healthy dose of reality knowing that I wasn’t perfect and that I had to respect my elders. She wasn’t one of those parents who would berate my teacher if I earned a bad grade, for example.
I grew up being protective of my family, as well. No matter how much I thought I hated my parents as a teenager, I sure wasn’t going to let anyone else say anything bad about them. I have a niece and nephew whom I always viewed as siblings, and I remember several occasions wanting to inflict suffering on someone who hurt them.
Now that I have a son, I have truly experienced the power of parenthood. It’s more powerful than I could have imagined and more than I can put into words. It’s primal and instinctual, and yes, animal.
The first instance was on date night this past Saturday. My husband and I went to the gun range for some target practice. I have never been a gun/shooting fanatic, but I am pro-2nd Amendment and most of my family have owned guns.
I’m trying to improve my form, technique and accuracy, although my accuracy isn’t half bad right now. I remember pointing the gun down range, focusing on aligning the sights with my target: a big white paper with black lines and red circles outlining where I should shoot. I focused so hard on that target, I felt like I was making it more difficult to shoot straight.
Then, for a minute, I imagined that I was at home with my son and that someone was invading with the intent to harm him. Suddenly, I felt a surge of what I assume was adrenaline, and it was incredibly easy to point, aim and shoot at the silhouette of a man on paper. My shots came quicker and more accurately, because instinct told me I would protect my son or die trying.
The second instance came while watching a “caught on camera” show on MSNBC. Most of those video clips I’ve seen already on the Internet, but one was new to me: a nanny-cam caught a woman paid to watch after a child outright abusing the 11-month-old in his home. It upset me so much that I cried.
Even though that baby wasn’t mine, the image of someone hurting him invoked “The Mama Bear” in me. It was easy to imagine (albeit incredibly painful) how it would feel if that was my child.
I read shortly before my son was born that motherhood “is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” I now know this to be true. And I will never understand mothers who hurt or allow someone else to hurt their children.
Motherhood is truly wondrous, miraculous, terrifying, powerful, painful, overwhelming and beautiful.