Aw, Mama Bear. It sounds so nurturing and snuggly (I mean besides the big teeth and temper). And overweight in the sweet and wise way, not the frumpy, sweaty way. Don't you think? Mama Bear perfectly describes a "natural" mother, someone to whom it comes easy (if there is such a thing as motherhood coming easy). I've even known some Mama Bears that weren't mothers, biologically speaking. I just think that Mama Bears always know the right thing to say, when to hug and when to scold. When to stand up and fight, and when to offer baked goods.
I like how matronly it sounds. HOLD THE PHONE. Did I just use the word matronly in a positive way? Quick, someone come slap on my high heels and take me dancing.
Seriously though, I love Mama Bear. I want to be a Mama Bear (unless it means I have to cook more often, in which case, nevermind). I get warm fuzzies when I think about slapping on band-aids and kissing wounds, a pile of children in my lap reading stories, wiping faces on the way out the door, and humming old hymns and spirituals to myself as I put away the dishes. (Somewhere, a feminist just died. And did I just say "spirituals?")
"Mama Bear" conjures up all sorts of delightful images of fresh cookies and such, but there's another side to the coin.
There is a ferociousness about a Mama Bear that I love as much as the softness. On the list of creatures I never want to meet in a dark alley, a mama bear is near the top (near man-eating sharks, snakes not in cages, and giant rabid dogs).
It's the mother-love that makes them crazy. Mother-love is crazy. It is seated deep in your gut, and it is ferocious, and wild, and it sometimes takes your breath away. My mother-love is not greater than my love for Dan or for Jesus, but it is unique in the feeling that I might drown in it. Like I would turn inside out if something were to happen to Madeline. I would turn inside out and howl. My heart would not survive. Mother-love is crazy.
I channeled a little bit of Mama Bear today - both sides.
We had a set-back, well, not really a set-back, just a disappointment, in our quest to find an appropriate schooling option for Madeline. She is too high-functioning to fit into the special needs preschool here, but to date we haven't been offered "enough" vision services to warrant inclusion (a regular classroom setting, with typically functioning kids). She wouldn't get the help she needs either place; both would hinder her in a different way.
And so I was inside out for a while today; I am still inside out, intermittently. I cried a lot and I played Mama Bear. On one hand I nurtured: I baked with Madeline, I took her to the library, I snuggled and tickled and indulged her all day long. We played all her favorite games and read a hundred books. And on the other hand, I called my mom and bared my teeth. I vented, I cried, and I spent Madeline's nap time ordering books about negotiating with the school district (graciously), reviewing my Braille, and making phone calls. Fighting for my child, so she can get what she needs, even if it's inconvenient, or out-of-the-box, or just hard. Did I mention the crying?
At one point, Madeline looked up at me and asked, "Are you happy crying?"
"Yes," I told her, "because you are special and I love you so much."
"Oh." She crawled up in my lap, wrapped her arms around my neck and squeezed, "Awww, it's okay Mommy." Then she started patting my back with her tiny hand, because everyone always pats her back when they hug her. "Awww, Mommy. I love you."
Confession: this evening, I tried to self-medicate with Disney movies, obsessive email checking, making casseroles I had no intention of eating, and pouring enormous glasses of Diet Coke (days like today I'm glad I don't drink) - thank goodness I didn't make it to the thrift store. Can you imagine?
And then I prayed. WHY does it take me so long to pray? I'd been sending up distracted, auto-pilot prayers all day,which I believe in. I want to talk to Jesus enough that there's an auto-pilot mode at all. And God hears knee-jerk prayers certainly, and answers them often, and He loves me no matter how (or if) I pray. But distracted, auto-pilot prayers are a poor replacement for quieting my racing mind and raging heart, and acknowledging slowly, sincerely, in the silence:
"You reign. You are no less on the throne now than you were yesterday, or when Madeline was born, or before creation. And you are no less good."
"You love Madeline more than I do (unfathomable), You've given us everything we need so far, and You reign."
"Great is Thy faithfulness O God, my Father There is not shadow of turning with Thee. Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not. As Thou hast been Thou forever will be.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide; Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me."