My twitter name is Grizzlibearma. I created the twitter account a few years ago so I could keep a watchful eye on the tweeting of my teenagers. Mamabear is what my daughter’s high school volleyball team affectionately called me when I organized their post-game treats. Teeth baring and sharp claws in the air, I have aggressively protected my young cubs over the years. The truth is that I am actually more of an elephant mom or even a wolf mom. The elephant mom is always close by to her calf, with a loving touch, to redirect and nurture her baby. In any trouble Mama Elephant rushes in to help. That’s me nurturing and protective. But I am also wolf mom, intuitive and unselfish. Most of the time I know what my wolf pups need, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep them safe. Animal mothers and human mothers are challenged with the same important task of raising our young, protecting them and preparing them for the world.
Singling out one single moment of my motherhood where I have been at the right place at the right time to help one of my children is difficult. I am most often the elephant nearby, sometimes I have to be the bear to fight off a predator, and I always try to be the wolf who continues to see to the needs off all of the pups in my den. What hurts my heart most is that I have learned that I cannot protect my children from all danger or pain. It is inevitable that they will each find themselves in a situation that results in some suffering.
The baby of my litter seemed to be the child who most often fell into harm’s way. If frequent flyer miles were awarded for visits to the emergency room, he would have reached elite traveler status by the time he was six years old. I half- expected a visit from child protective services for the cumulative injuries suffered. His fingers caught in the front door when his sister slammed it shut on her way out, not realizing her little brother trailed behind her until we all heard his loud shriek. Or the time he sliced his foot while climbing inside the pantry on the shelves to retrieve the high-up cookies, and then landed barefoot on a sharp Swedish Christmas decoration. Or there was the nice evening we were all sitting outside and he picked up a brick from the side of the house, which cut the skin and tendons between his thumb and his forefinger. More blood. More crying. More visits to the doctor. He’s been stapled, glued, and stitched. His ride in an ambulance was by far the scariest experience of all of his injuries. After school one day when I was preparing the older kids a snack of cheese and crackers, we heard strange noises coming from the other room. It sounded like he was playing make-believe animal noises. We walked around the corner into the two story foyer and found him flat on his back gurgling and moaning in pain. Calmly and quickly, we called 911, and waited for the medical team to arrive and stabilize him. He explained later that he had been trying to slide down the banister like his older brother did when I wasn’t looking. The whole ride to the hospital in the back of that ambulance I just stared at my smallest child papoosed onto the gurney, and prayed he was not critically hurt. Please let my baby be ok. Please let him run and jump again. Hours later, after various testing and observation, and a lollypop, the doctor released us to go home to rest, with a stern warning not to slide down a two story banister. I breathed a sigh of relief and felt once again that guilty feeling of “how did this happen under my watch?”
I was always a few steps away or around the corner. As the elephant-mom, I am nearby, and can rush in to help. As the wolf-mom my strong intuition guided me in meeting their needs. As grizzly bear mom I protectively guard and defend them. Koda and Summer get this same kind of mothering my four children experience. Koda and Summer, you are in good hands (or paws or claws).