Posted by Amy Peterson | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 18-01-2010
The Mom Chronicles: The Mamma Bear Response
Hello again, moms. Well wouldn’t you know? I survived my first week of school. Amen to that! It was less then traumatic and I was never referenced to as any thing other then a student so I would say that was a success! (No, no suggestions of my being a staff member this week..) In fact, I was pleasantly surprised that the demographics of my class, at least in age, are quite close to myself. In addition, while there are not a lot of “Gray hairs” in it, as one referred to them as, there are also few if any new high school grads to mention. While I am uncertain how many are new-career seeking moms like myself, I do know I am not the only mom in the class, and I guess there is some comfort in that.
So as I worked to adjust to life as a college student once again, life apparently felt I didn’t have enough on my hands to deal with, and so it, as usual, bombarded with me multiple fires to put out and address. And not only did life give me things, but the things it gave were those which evoked the Mamma Bear response in me. Come on moms, you all know what it is and have it. It’s the response we give when our cubs, our family, our den is threatened and it makes us come charging out of our den with our claws out and fangs and teeth showing and our hair stands on end and we come off of all four up on to our two back legs and we roar with vengence. NO ONE threatens our cubs/family/den.
This is the response drawn out of me on two occassions this week. Fortunately, life rarely evokes this kind of response with out giving us a way of coming down from it. For me this week, this came in the form of quote that was posted on a friend’s “Facebook” site and it provided me with an incredible aha! moment which enabled me to come back down to all fours, yet maintain my ability to protect my cubs. The quote, which comes from David Russell, says “The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.” This week, this mamma bear will be burning a lot more bridges then crossing them.
You see, unfortunately this past week has shown me some very ugly sides of some people in my life. Someone who I have gone out of my way to take under my wing and help and support while she had no one else, “thanked” me by doing something so malicious and cruel and spiteful, that not only was my family negatively effected and will be dealing with the horrific fallout from her choices for some time, but she could have potentially ruined my career as a EMT or paramedic, and future as a mom as well.Don’t think that didn’t evoke more then a minor Mamma bear response. And then there was my husband’s family. He and I have never seen eye to eye in terms of our feelings towards them, until this past weekend, that is when I was left feeling nothing but sadness and compassion for him as he worked to deal with great hurt that resulted from a very mean and unfair and judgemental interaction that was had during a get together that was supposed to be one of fun and family, as holiday get togethers should be, and left with the feelings similar to those I have carried for so long.In both cases the claws came out. Yet, I look at that which transpired and the choices I have in terms of dealing with them and this quote easily comes to mind. Life is all about making choices. It is about looking at a situation, a relationship, an interaction and deciding if it is something to fight for, or not. If it is a bridge worth crossing, or burning. And perhaps it was the reminder that it is ok to choose the latter that helped me through my processing of this past week, though it doesn’t mean we move from our lookout spot outside our den.
As moms we make choices all the time. We are constantly responding to our kids, to their choices and behaviors, to the choices and behaviors of those around us. And while this can be very difficult, something I am learning, is at every situation to take inventory. Is this a person or situation that I care deeply about and want in my life so I am willing to resolve, or do the risks of the situation outweigh the benefits, in which as difficult as it can be the bridge must be burned? As moms, 99% of the time we choose to cross the bridge. We are invested in our kids and relationships with them so much that as difficult as the situation may be, as much as we don’t like a choice our child has made or action they have taken, we find ways of working it out and teaching them how not to create the situation again. We can use this when our children get hurt by friends or others, to help them decide if the person is someone they really value and want in their life, or someone that perhaps difficult as it may be, is ok to let go of. The reality is that in life, things are constantly happening. People are constantly hurting us, disappointing us. And it is our choice to choose at which point things have gone too far and the benefits of the relationship no longer outweigh the risks and it is time to “burn the bridge”.
Of the two situations I made reference to that evoked my Mamma Bear response, one of the bridges is most certainly being burned. On the other, it is at least being “singed” until a more permanant decision can be made. And the fact that we can make that choice, as difficult and important of a choice it is, is a very freeing thing. And that is something we can teach our kids, that there is always a choice. That we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and infact have the right to demand it. And in all situations and with all people, if that is not happening, it is ok to turn and take the other path.It is ok to protect the den. It is ok, and we should, stand up for ourselves when a great disservice has been done. It is ok, and we should, teach our kids self respect, that they may never feel that the cruel actions of others are their fault, or were deserved. Will they always be liked for it? No. Are people generally respectful or happy when a boundary is set by another or relationship is severed due to ones poor choice? Not so much, usually because they don’t want to take responsibility for their actions and accept that what they did was so deeply hurtful to another. AND that doesn’t mean, it still isn’t ok to set those boundaries and end the relationships which are anything but respectul and supportive and loving.
Now, Mamma bears, I am not telling you all to go out and burn all the bridges to those who have wronged you. What I am telling you instead, is that you never have to feel like you don’t have that as a choice, because you do. And it is your job in defending your den and all that is in it, to decide the level of investment and value in a relationship. .
And so my moms, as I embark on week two of school, and work to juggle school and motherhood and all else I have going on, I am at least reminded of the choices I have, and I have enough self respect that I am convinced I can make those choices based on what is best for me and my family. I am also very aware, as my friend Mike who posted this quote on his facebook page reminded us of as well, that even when the bridges are identified, actually striking a match can be a whole process as well. Call it self respect or “Mamma Bear” coming out of the den to protect her family. Whichever the case, these things that happened last week, will never happen again. Not if this mamma can help it.