Bears, Mamas, and Mama Bears

It Was February. Bears Hibernate in February. 

Love, Claws, and Flying Children
“We were tent camping in Yosemite,” Amy told us, sharing a great story in her inimitable style. “And I woke up in the middle of the night to this shuffling sound, along with this snuffling sound, and I knew–I just KNEW–that a bear was outside our tent. It was sniffing and shuffling and snuffling right along the wall of our tent.

“Moving slowly, I looked, and Paul, our baby Paul, was sleeping. Right. Next. To The Wall. Of. The. Tent. I thought for a moment, then suddenly I rolled over, grabbed him, sleeping bag and all, and heaved him right into the middle of the tent, away from that bear.” 

We all laughed at our pastor’s wife’s story, shared around the table one day earlier in the summer when they joined us for brunch.

“I’m terrified of bears,” I admitted. “More cinnamon rolls?”

I really am afraid of bears. It’s not the healthy respect owed to a top-of-the-food-chain predator. It’s more like the I’d-die-of-a-heart-attack-before-it-lay-a-claw-on-me, phobic, panicky kind of terror.

You know, the kind of trepidation motherhood can bring.  Funny thing, though: when we moms fear for our kids, we usually don’t panic. No. When the way to safety is clear, we perform superhuman feats–like flinging them, sleeping bag and all, across a tent in the middle of the night.

From a supine position. From inside a sleeping bag. Yup. Moms can turn into mama bears in nothing flat–or faster, if need be–when our children are in jeopardy.

When we understand the threat–for example, we awake to discover a bear prowling along the edge of our tent–we know just what to do about it. Toss a child to safety? No problem.

But when the menace is nameless, it’s harder to know what to do. A sullen-for-no-particular-reason teen, for example, can challenge the most loving mom’s resourcefulness. When the winds of change are blowing through a young adult’s life, wheeling and shining and dipping like gum wrappers glittering in the gutter, the course is unclear:

Maybe your child’s sails will fill for a majestic cruise through the next few years. 

Maybe your child will be pushed onto the rocky shore. 

We want them to develop into independent, self-sufficient, character-rich adults.

And we want to protect them, too. 

A hard lesson for a mama bear to learn is that protecting our kids shields them from the life events that develop the independence, self-sufficiency, and character we long for them to acquire.

Even harder for this mama bear are the good and hard events in our children’s lives. It’s a good thing that God is God, and I’m not. Because if I were God, I would go alongside our kids to every hard place life takes them, coaching and encouraging them all the way through. If I were God, I would do all the hardest things for our kids in their places, and leave them with the good results, robbing them of those opportunities to grow and learn.

God has a much better plan. He teaches me to trust Him every time one of our children faces one of life’s big, challenging, glorious moments. 

My daughter is scheduled for a labor induction today. We’re in California. She’s in Hawaii. Will you pray with me? Specifically, please pray for:

  1. An available bed in Labor and Delivery so they can actually fulfill her appointment [Mamas who go into labor on their own take precedence, barring a medical emergency].
  2. Expert medical care for her and our granddaughter, Daphne.
  3. Stamina for Elaine and her husband, Rob.
  4. God’s blessing on them all. 

I’m not sharing a verse today because I want to pray the whole Bible over them. Instead, here are photos of Elaine’s boys on their birthdays.

Cadence James. September 30, 2006. 

Sawyer Anton. November 11, 2010. 

[Edited, with great thanksgiving, to add:]

Daphne Kate. September 4, 2012.