One of the most important instincts moms possess is the “mama bear” protective reaction when a circumstance threatens our child. This threat might be a physical threat of sickness or disease. Sometimes it is the concern of social well being. Or the fear someone is trying to harm our child. When we see our kids in possible harm’s way… well just watch out because mama bear is taking matters into her own hands!
Right?! Well… one of the greatest lessons I have learned in my 19+ years of motherhood is that there comes a time for mama bear to hibernate.
The older your kids get the more often you must put mama bear to sleep… and it is not easy! It is painful. Painfully difficult for you as a mom and your child. However, I believe if we can’t come to grips with letting mama bear rest at times, we hinder our kids from important life lessons that will shape them into strong independent humans!
Now, I’m not talking about saving your 18-month-old from touching a hot stove, protecting your infant from a growling puppy, or any kind of abuse or violence you as a mom see coming at your child regardless of age. I’m always on the lookout for my adult children. I am talking about other “acts of unrighteousness” that will come at your child as they age. Most of these happenings are simple things we can’t control or maybe circumstances we shouldn’t try to control. However, when unfair circumstances come to your child your mama bear wants to rise… even when they are 19 years old!
I remember one of the first times I experienced the need to put my mama bear to sleep.
My oldest daughter Jordan was about to start Kindergarten. Our elementary school would post the class lists on the windows outside the school on a certain day. It was one of the most nostalgic traditions. In our world of emails and messages, you would find a mass of parents and grade-schoolers huddled together peering into the windows to find your child’s name. Now, as a Kindergartener, you aren’t aware of who the “best” teacher is or if you have friends in your class. However, as a mom of a Kindergartener, you sure do!
This mama was a nervous wreck and I wanted so badly for Jordan to have a certain teacher and to be in a class with as many of her preschool and neighborhood friends as possible.
I decided not to make a teacher request but I certainly wanted to! I was terrified of Jordan facing a disappointment or hardship of any kind. It is just so hard to let go!! As we made our way to the class lists for Kindergarten we found Jordan’s name. She was ecstatic. She was one of those fearless kids ready to take on the world at the age of 5!
I, however, would not be described as a fearless mom. I was full of raging fear.
When I saw the majority of the names I recognized as friends in another class, my heart sunk. I remember agonizing over this the entire walk home. Thinking of ways I could get Jordan into the other class. I would call the school. Email the principal. Plead my case. Except, when I continued to mull over this disappointment, I realized I didn’t’ have a case. Yes, Jordan won’t have friends in the class. But she will make new friends. She might not have the teacher my mom-friends requested, but she has a teacher that I shouldn’t judge without even knowing. I reluctantly put mama bear to rest.
I decided I should be more like my 5-year-old daughter: fearless.
Jordan thrived that first year of school and her teacher was incredible. But please keep in mind every child is different. If your child has special needs or a certain situation it can be best to make requests or meet with your school. I knew my child didn’t require certain considerations and I wanted to reserve those requests for parents that actually had special situations.
Now, this was the first of many, many, many, injustices, unfair happenings, wrong treatments, dreadful tryouts, and so much more! As disappointments for my children came I learned as a mom to let it ride. If I always tried to rescue them, then I eliminated opportunities for them to learn to work through difficult situations. These kinds of obstacles would continue to come for the rest of their lives.
As each kid got older, the more difficult these disappointments became.
I ended up never requesting a teacher for any of my kids in elementary school. And as Jordan got older and aware of her friends being or not being in class with her we had many devastating trips to the windows to discover her new teacher. Practically every year of elementary school she would start a class without close friends in her class. It ended up being the best thing for her, despite the initial gut-wrenching disappointment – and I am talking crocodile tears. Jordan would make new friends and find herself in a class where she could focus better.
Many of you are in your first few years of motherhood. Your mama bear instinct is in full force and it should be! I write this as a mom of three teenagers in hopes that when you discover yourself in a new season, you will know that mama bear needs to take a nap. You too will have the courage to let your child be disappointed and walk alongside them through the disappointment to the other side full of growth and confidence!
In Junior High School, the disappointments are exhausting. Kids get mean and many times the moms are even meaner.
Each time one of my kids would be left out or not invited to a party I would send mama bear into the cave to sleep!
I would talk with my child about the disappointment and I didn’t let myself try to alleviate the disappointment. I let my child feel that disappointment and we talked about their feelings and how they can live a life of kindness. For instance, when a child didn’t make the sports team they felt they deserved we didn’t complain to the coaching staff. We talked about being a leader and friend to others on the team. These are all big-kid problems, but they will come.
As a mom, you have been mama bear from day one. Learning to embrace disappointments and quickly see them as an opportunity for growth is also an equally fierce part of mothering. Letting your kids experience disappointment, as hard as that is to do, will help them become confident adults.