The first of a five part Thanksgiving series: PapaBear, Without Him There’d Be No GrizzlyBearMA

Six months ago the decision to call my blog “GrizzlyBearMa” came easily. People with whom I have interacted throughout my life as a mother, know my fierce protective nature. Teachers, caregivers, coaches, relatives, even hairdressers know how active I am in the lives of my four children. They witnessed my large presence hovering nearby, even hearing a growl now and then or seeing my bared sharp teeth and claws. If there has ever been a problem, I never hesitate to step forward to protect my cubs. I’m not claiming to be super mom or that every intervention I made was necessary. However, my “GrizzlyBearMa” nickname was earned because of my passionate dedication to my children. Oddly enough, long before I became a mother, the animal I always thought of myself was a bear.

My blog is not called “Grizzlybear,” it is “GrizzlyBear…MA.” There is one person responsible for this that I want to recognize in today’s posting. That man is my husband of thirty years. Without him, there would be no GrizzlyBearMa. Together we started our family. First with Janet and Paula (our two Shih Tzu’s), then with our first son in 1993. By the new millennium we were a family with four kids (three sons and a daughter) and two fur babies. Papa Bear is my before, during, and ever-after. I have known him more years than the years I did not know him. He is my college sweetheart, my soul mate, my partner in life, my rock, and my other half in this “bear” analogy of parenting. We have grown up together, faced tough challenges together, and shared our happiest moments together. He is my biggest fan (my mom ranks pretty high too, but I have 3 sisters so…). Why am I gushing on and on about this man?

In order for me to have poured my heart and soul into my motherly role, it can sometimes take away from the energy and attention I have left to give towards my bear mate. This was especially true when our children were little. Imagine an infant needing to be nursed, toddler fed and diaper changed, preschooler and 2nd grader bathed and bedtime stories. Papa Bear is more hands on than many dads I know, changing dirty diapers from day one. He is also a wonderful cook and actually likes to grocery shop. I completely lucked out with this mate. He also did not care about a perfectly clean house or gourmet dinner ready when he got home; he was always much happier if he came home to a smiling mama bear who had lighthearted stories to share about the little cubs. I would like to think that most evenings I did have a smile on my face, but it may have been a slightly “I think I am going crazy” grin with wide eyes. Those early years left me pretty tired and loopy by day’s end. The closest I have come to feeling that way recently was during the first few weeks with tiny Summer and Koda here. I had little sleep and was up at odd times of the night while they played on the rug next to me.

As our children grew older and ventured further out from our cave, my mama bear instincts sharpened. I volunteered, led scouts groups, met with teachers, sought out help when our kids needed some, and I became GrizzlyBearMa. For the record, I know a lot Mama Bears out there. We meet these days and talk about our cubs, but instead of it being about who is teething or walking yet it’s who has applied to which colleges. I also know many Mama Bears who are mothering little fur babies, and we talk about the best groomers, and share cute pictures of them in Halloween costumes or sleeping on our beds. Pride and love run deep in Mama Bear hearts. I have seen the fangs and claws come out of these kind women when they are standing up for something involving their family. The common thread between us is that fierce desire to grow our cubs up to be strong, surviving, happy, and independent from us one day.

Somewhere along the way, I find myself deep into my mother bear role and hibernating too close to my cubs, practically smothering them under my fur. I have to be reminded to step back and let them work to get the salmon in the stream themselves or climb the tree to get to the bee hive without my help. Papa Bear is pretty adept at the stand-back thing as our brood grows older. He and I even growl a little back and forth when he tries to advise me. We want the same for our kids but we do not always approach things the same way.

I credit Papa Bear with realizing the timing being right for bringing two aussiedoodle puppies into our lives. He knew that very soon my heart would be heavy with our cave nearing the empty stage as our youngest child was entering his last year of high school. He suggested not one dog, but TWO. We went back and forth about it, and he persisted about getting two aussidoodle puppies at the same time from the same litter. I have no regrets, and cannot imagine having only Summer or only Koda. They are a pair, a very large active fluffy pair, who both need my attention as GrizzlyBearMa.

This post today is the first of a series I am writing about what I am so grateful for during this Thanksgiving week. I thought it most important that I start with thanking the man that gave me one of my biggest treasures in life and made me who I am today. Our children, both human and curly fur covered, mean the world to me. They would not be here with out Papa Bear. I thank God everyday for my family, most especially my one and only, PapaBear. He is a proud but very private man, and yet he supports me in putting these thoughts out there on the world wide web for all my hundreds, thousands, no millions, of readers to read. He encourages me to keep writing and loves me for the GrizzlyBearMa that I am.

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