Momma Bear

Liz and Merida in Disney.  There is a little resemblance.  And a lot of resemblance between me and the momma bear.

Liz and Merida in Disney. There is a little resemblance. And a lot of resemblance between me and the momma bear.

Sunday, March 8, 2015 was International Women’s Day. HOORAH for women in all walks of life!

But this International Women’s Day had me thinking…what was missing in the posts I read or the videos or the images?

Truly, I thought something was missing from the conversation.

Looking back over the pieces of information I perused about International Women’s Day, I did not run across anything celebrating mothers, a role which is at the heart of who I am. I am not saying there were no posts on mothers on that day, I just did not see them.

This had me further thinking about another interest of mine: Disney.

Perhaps it is because my oldest daughter is 12 hours away completing a Disney internship. Perhaps it is because I am looking forward to a Spring Break vacation to the Happiest Place on Earth to see said oldest daughter. Perhaps it is because I scream like a happy baby when on Rockin’ Roller Coaster! Perhaps it is because Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse are just the cutest little couple on the planet. Maybe Walt was one of the most creative man who ever lived. You get the picture…Disney is in my blood. Not as high up as being a Momma, but it is up there…

I started thinking of Disney movies and how mothers are portrayed in these movies.

That is when it hit me…except for rare exceptions, mothers in Disney movies are either evil, mean, or DEAD.

One exception I can think of is the mother in Brave.

I saw Brave on a trip to a Stuebenville conference with the oldest daughter and 100 other youth from south Louisiana. We traveled 21 hours to Ohio (one way) to experience an incredible charismatic youth conference.

On the way, we stopped at a movie theater, and watched Brave. Sitting beside my beautiful red headed daughter, we sobbed like babies, as we took a movie journey into the complex relationships of mothers and daughters.

When we left the movie theater, Elizabeth said to me, “You know, Mom, sometimes, like Merida, I get frustrated with you. You don’t always make sense to me.” Now, she didn’t say those exact words, but you get the point. It was a bonding moment.

I reminded her, “Like Merida’s mother, I will always protect you. My job is momma bear. I will always be a momma bear. I do this because I love you and I want what is best for you. Sometimes, we will agree on that, and sometimes not. But you will always know I love you.”

You see, Merida’s mother became a bear. Truly. She was turned into a bear.

I thought this was GENIUS!

Of course she was turned into a bear! Many mommas feel like BEARS!

I have heard women say, “Mess with me, and you are fine. Mess with my kids, and you’re going to get the claws!”

Our oldest daughter was playing on a recreational softball team when she was 12 years old. She has the build of a softball player, but hated playing, and truly was not interested. However, we taught her that once she makes a commitment, she has to see it through. In the heat of the Louisiana summer, her team was playing one of the last games. I was 7 months preggers for #4. Anyway, Elizabeth got her first hit of the season, but was thrown out at first base (I know, technically, that’s not a hit…but it was for her!). She advanced two runners on base. I was so proud of her. When she was leaving first base, because she had never gotten a hit before, she really had no idea how to exit to the opposite side of the field for the dugout. So, ever so slowly, she crossed the pitcher’s mound…ever…so…slowly…Meanwhile, I was wobbling over to the dugout to give her a hug and let her know how proud I was of her.

Approaching the dugout, I heard the grandfather of our pitcher say to his wife,

“I don’t know why she’s taking her time…she hasn’t done anything all season long. What a waste. She shouldn’t be on this team.”

BEAR CLAWS FROM 7 MONTH PREGNANT WOMAN…NOT PRETTY…

As I approached him, I said,

“You sir, are a *expletive*…”

I know…not a very working Catholic mom thing to do…

Immediately, I gave him the stank eye! I know he was afraid! (just kidding…I’m sure he was thinking, “Hormones.”) I wrapped Elizabeth into the biggest hug I could and told her very loudly how proud I was of her. Then, I looked back at him and said,

“My daughter just had an RBI and advanced runners. Pretty good for a waste.”

I sauntered back to my lawn chair, continued eating my snowball, and tried to retract my claws.

That day was about protecting my kid. That day was about making sure others knew I would protect her. That day was about letting others know that all kids matter.

So, you go Brave! Thank you for depicting a Disney momma in a way that rings true to so many of us.

How else do you let the bear come out for your kids? I was pondering this the other day, as well. I want my kids to know I have their best interest at heart. Sometimes, as a working Catholic mom, I don’t have oodles of time with the kids, and getting personal time with each of the 5 seems impossible. But, we try our best, and our effort counts, right? Here are some ways I am a momma bear:

1. I pray relentlessly for my kids each day. I even ask others to pray for them. Just the other day, 3 of our kids were having issues: one was having major nose bleeds, one was dealing with personal issues, and one was hating her job. I asked three different mommas who know the temperaments of my kids to pray for them specifically, and invoke their patron saints. These women responded so graciously, and as a momma bear, I was covering them with prayer!

2. Even though afternoon/evenings are my most tired time, I must be a momma bear with homework. Especially as public schools continue to change methods and systems, I have to stay on top of how they are learning and what they are learning. That means momma is involved in homework. Of course, sometimes this task falls to papa. But, for the most part, I’m on top of it.

3. If I see an injustice with children, even when they are not my own, I try to address it. For example, I have been involved in the public discussion on Ferguson and other issues that involve the dignity of children, especially our most vulnerable. With our feminine identity, our motherhood is crucial in the world, starting with our own kids, but continuing with injustices and holes in society.

4. I talk about my kids at work. Everyone at work knows that I love my children, and that if something needs my attention as a momma, I will have to take care of those things. My supervisor is extremely supportive of me being a momma. For that, I have always been grateful.

5. Many of us have to use daycare options outside of the home. As the momma bear, I made sure the daycare choices we made were appropriate for our children. Our children have been in home care, daycare, mother’s day out, and pre-K. At each juncture, I was present making the decision in the best interest of our children. And there were times we had to make quick exits because of danger situations. Guess who was there for that? Momma Bear.

It is so difficult to be a momma. But it is the most joyful of vocations. I am blessed that the Lord gave me 5 children on Earth, and two little souls in Heaven. I love being a momma. Momma Bear is part of the role. I cherish that, too.

Pray for me, as I pray for you, in your role of momma. May we be mommas who exemplify virtue and love, and protection, just like our main momma bear, Blessed Virgin Mary.

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