Taming the Mama Bear

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Some people think I am a laid back parent, but they are wrong. I am just worn out.

“Mom, how did you get so chill?” My 19-year-old daughter asked me.

I stared at her for a moment in shock.

Chill? I’m chill now? When did that happen?

Then, it occurred to me. She is interpreting the exhaustion of parenting five children over the course of 25 years as “chill.” Good to know.

Let it Go

The truth is, I have learned to let a lot go in those 25 years. It was either that or scream at everyone.

All. Of. The. Time.

Somewhere along the way, I decided I didn’t want my kids to hate me. So, I decided to make a couple of changes. First, I learned to pick my battles. I also begin to explore the possibility that their lives were not, in fact, mine. That one is still hard some days.

So yes, for the most part I am fairly chill.

Well, with one exception.

Beware, Beware the Mama Bear

“Don’t ever do anything to hurt me,” my 19-year-old teased her boyfriend the other day. “If someone hurts me, Mom turns into a different person.”

“But she’s so nice!” said the sweetly naive boyfriend.

Mama Bear
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Bless his heart. He just has no idea. He has never met the Mama Bear.

Just last week, someone rattled my cage.

My youngest daughter came home from school to tell me about an incident with a teacher that left her feeling “dumb.” As I listened to her account, I felt the transformation begin to take hold. My face grew hot, my heart pounded, and my hand began to reach into my back pocket for my phone all by itself.

This must be how Dr. Banner feels when the Hulk begins to take over, I thought.

Then, with two small words, everyone in the house knew there was a new Mom in town.

“That’s it,” I said.

Cool Down, Mama.

Fortunately for everyone, I had a couple of days to calm down. Then, I had a couple of days more to think about what I really wanted to accomplish in the situation.

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Yes, I wanted to advocate for my daughter, but as my anger faded I realized I wanted something more-

I wanted to treat her teacher with dignity, kindness, and respect too. I wanted to set a good example for my daughter, and honor God.

“Jesus, I don’t have this in me,” I prayed, “but I want to. I hope that is enough. Please help me.”

And he did.

Finally Getting It Right

The meeting went great. So great. When my daughter came home from school, I updated her on the plan going forward. Then, I thanked her for giving me the chance to finally get it right after so many years, and so many mama bear moments.

(Moment of silence for all of the poor people who hurt my kids in one way or another over the years. Jesus, make it right.)

Do you struggle with Mama Bear moments too? Here are a few things that really helped me this time around.

Taming the Mama Bear

Photo by Marina Shatskih on Pexels.com
  • Pray
    • Pray for your child, that God would comfort, heal, and provide.
  • Pray again
    • Pray for the one who hurt your baby. Ask God to bless them and keep them as His dear child. (He loves them too. It is important to remember that.)
  • Pray one more time
    • Pray for yourself. Ask for wisdom, courage, and strength. Ask God for His Spirit to do in you what you can’t possibly do on your own. Then…ask God to comfort you because this is hard.
  • Seek wise counsel
    • Do you know someone who loves Jesus and knows more about the situation than you do? Ask them to weigh in. For me, it was my friend Jacilyn Goodwin. Not only is she an educator, she is better at conflict than anyone I know.
  • Learn how to have hard conversations
    • *This was HUGE! There is a lot of research on-line, but Jacilyn shared this with me.
      • Name the issue
      • Share a specific example illustrating the issue
      • Describe the emotion behind the issue
      • Clarify what is at stake
      • Identify your contribution to the problem
      • Indicate your wish to resolve the issue
      • Invite them to Respond
  • Write out what want to say.
    • I knew I needed a script to help take the emotion out of it. I also wanted to be sure I covered the important things.
  • Be a little vulnerable.
    • Mama Bears are TERRIFYING. This time, I tried honesty instead. I told the teacher I brought notes because those kinds of conversations made me nervous. It was true.
  • Remember, it takes a village (to subdue a Mama Bear).
    • What I mean is this- Maintain a “team mindset” if at all possible and let your language reflect that. I said things like, “I am not here to attack you. My daughter and I want to work with you to find a solution.” I was pleasantly surprised how eager this teacher was to join the team. (Credit to my friend, Jacilyn Goodwin, again for this one.)
  • Have an escape plan.
    • I told myself that if everything started going south, I would end the conversation rather than say something I regret. I promised myself I wouldn’t let the issue go, but find some additional help, perhaps a third person to help mediate the conflict. This wasn’t necessary, but it really reduced my anxiety to have it as an option.

Mission Accomplished

After my daughter and I talked about the outcome of my meeting, I took the time to do more thing. I reminded her that I was on her side…and that the best thing I could possibly do for her was not to burn the world down, but help her find a way to have a better working relationship with her teacher. She felt great about the outcome of the conference.

And for once…so do I.


Get the Story

I am so glad God still uses flawed men and women for His kingdom (Mama Bears too.) If you want to read about more of them, pick up a copy of Advent: The Story of Christmas. The book was released for Advent, but the stories of the ordinary, neurotic, messed-up and insecure men and women of scripture God used to write the story of redemption is eternal.

We are all broken down here.

Click this link to get your copy today.

2 Replies to “Taming the Mama Bear”

  1. Love this, Sherri. I swear, you and I are so much a like. Thank you for this extremely relevant story of truth and wisdom. Mine are 20 and 22 and I’ve let go a LOT….but the Momma Bear still makes her grand entrance every so often. Thank you, Jesus, that we don’t have to give in to the rage and can still make an impact.

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