Last Spring Break my family went on a trip to Ruidoso, NM. It was beautiful and we went for a hike one day in an isolated area. As we walked we noticed that we were by the stream and had heard that bears were waking up so Stephen would call out every few feet so that we wouldn’t scare a bear. Even though we were all alone in the woods I felt awkward with him yelling out. You know that embarrassed feeling you get for other people sometimes? As we came around a cluster of trees Stephen yelled out and we were answered by a low growl. We stopped and he yelled and the growl came again. At this time we looked at each other with hearts pounding and I thought maybe the yells were worth my awkward feeling, put the kids between us, and turned around to hurry out of there. This bear was nice enough to give us a warning. However, this experience reminded me about our Mama hearts and the fierce love we have for our children. We have all heard about the Mama Bear tendency to fiercely protect our children. When someone messes with our kid we have a primal response to react.
This Mama Bear response, while innate in us all, needs to be tempered. That is the hard part. The part goes against nature. We get this term Mama Bear because we mimic the response of a real bear protecting her cubs. Mama bears often attack out of a perceived threat. She sees a human and out of fear that he will hurt her cub attacks him. Maybe the humans were ignorant city folks like us out for a stroll, but the Mama Bear attacks without knowledge. We as Moms often have that same reaction out of fear. We perceive a threat… whether it be another child, a teacher, a parent, culture and react aggressively without all the information and taking the time to pray through our response. Maybe there is a better way. Let us consider the actions of the Mama Bird.
The Mama bird loves, comforts, and cares for her young. However, she also teaches them to fly on their own. I have to teach my children how to tell others how they want to be treated, how to solve conflict, how to speak up, how to love and forgive others, and how to pray and not react. Both care deeply, love, and protect their children. The difference comes in how that is played out. The Mama Bird gently even nudges her babies out of the nest when she knows they are ready. We must encourage our children to step out and try new ideas and experiences. This will build their character, independence, and responsibility. The nudge can be hard for us moms at times. We may have to give the nudge with a brave face and then go text our friends for support and prayer. I have many seen schools offer a “Tears and Cheers Coffee” for kindergarten parents after they drop their child off for their first day of kindergarten. We put on a brave face and tell our children how wonderful school will be and then retreat to the school cafeteria for camaraderie, support, or a big high 5 depending on your emotions. As they learn to step out in these small ways with our encouragement then, they will be confident and be able to step out in Faith one day as the Lord leads. Our job is to prepare them for what the Lord calls them to. We love, pray, release, and watch.
When we mimic the bear we damage relationships, hurt people, and teach our children that they are not safe with out us. There will be times for us to step in and protect our children but we must do so in a spirit of peace and reconciliation. Often times the threat that we perceived was actually an opportunity to teach, model grace, show forgiveness, or train our children how to deal with conflict. Ecclesiastes 7:9 says “Do not be provoked in your spirit, anger resides in the lap of fools”. We should stop and ask ourselves first what the Lord would have us to do, what can our child learn from this, can we overlook the offense, or what our response should be. Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion”. Let’s stop and consider the intentions or position from someone that we are tempted to “go Mama Bear” on. The Word tells us that by tempering this desire to attack and praying through our response we will avoid being a “fool”. Parenting is hard and we will make mistakes in handling issues that arise but we can reach out to reconcile and try again. Our relationships will stay intake, our children will learn life skills, and we will honor the Lord when we step out of attack mode. Let us remember the bird and the bravery and strength she shows as she gently leads, encourages, and even nudges her babies.