CONFESSIONS OF A MAMA BEAR

Last week I celebrated my first Mother's Day as a mom.  I am a mom. I...am a mom.  Yep. Still has a WTF?! ring to it when I hear myself say it out loud. We went on two walks with the bambino around our new, more family-friendly neighborhood.  Everywhere we looked there were multiple versions of ourselves: mama, papa, baby, stroller.  Some days, I can't help feeling like an imposter--a perpetually dishevled, chronically disorganized, "how-the-hell-did-I-get-here?" expression wearing person--who is impersonating a grown up, pretending to be a parent. 

That is how surreal this gig can feel at times.  And yet, I can see that the "mama bear" in me, the one that hibernated through 42 years of childlessness, has sprung awake. And she's for real, yo.  I recently felt myself manifest this more intensely at the weekly playgroup Hazel and I attend. It was time to put away all the toys, but with a a bunch of kids under 2 that's not always a smooth transition.  Some cooperated of course.  But there were a lot of little bodies going limp with rebellion in the arms of their moms or caregivers.  Others were making off with some toy they refused to give up, waddling away as fast as their little diapered butts could carry them. Hazel was one of those.  Not quite on board with the message of "clean up time," she was crawling towards something she wanted--can't remember now what.  I turned for a second to put a toy in a basket. All the dramatic stuff happens in a second.  This time it involved some kid's nanny walking backwards over Hazel. One of her legs knocked my girl over and still the woman kept moving, not looking down or altering her course in any way, as if Hazel was some inanimate object she could not harm.  I could see her other leg coming down; she was going to step on my child again, so I placed both of my hands squarely on her shoulder and pushed as hard as I could in the opposite direction. As I grabbed Hazel up from the floor I heard a bland, banal voice saying, "Oh, I'm sorry.  I'm sorry," then my voice saying "It's okay, it's okay." But it wasn't. I was only being "nice," cloaking how upset I was with that generic we're-all-still-friends-here response often used when in a public place and you don't want to get into it with a stranger or when you are trying to convince yourself of something. It was a little chant to soothe my jangled nerves, to assuage my tired mama worry with the assurance that I had rescued my baby and all would be well. It was a little chant to help silence the inner bear no longer snoozing through a long winter but aroused, vigilant, and ready to knock the shit out of anyone who might hurt her cub.

The side of Hazel's face was red where she'd hit the floor; she was frightened and crying. I could barely look at the nanny.  I think when I pushed her, she was holding on to the little girl she looked after but I'm not certain.  Honestly, In the moment I didn't care.  All I could think about was that this rather large person was going to crush my baby unless I stopped her.  

We moved into the singing portion of the class and as soon as Old McDonald's cow became the focus, Hazel was smiling again.  My adrenaline rush subsided and I felt slightly more empathetic towards the nanny. She seemed to be avoiding eye contact with me. It occurred to me that perhaps I should apologize for pushing her. But as I sat there listening to "This Little Light of Mine," I knew I wouldn't do it.  I wasn't sorry. Then I thought maybe I should at least explain why. Shouldn't I address what just passed between us? Shouldn't I make sure she knows that my actions were in no way inspired by nastiness or aggression only terror over the possibility that my baby was about to be trampled? But I didn't do that either.  I've grown weary of explaining myself to people.  It requires more emotional energy than I possess most days.  Call it laziness, call it a short cut, call it whatever you want. To someone like me who tends to explain more often than needed, remain loyal longer than many deserve, initiate communication more times than what is reciprocated, it felt liberating to let my actions speak louder than my words this time.

So, in the end I neither offered an apology or an explanation. I decided to trust that the "why" was understood.  I was just "mama bear," doing what she sometimes gotta do.  I embraced that wonderful surge of wild, primal protective love that propelled me forward into the "nanny body slam" that rescued my tiny human.  Any self-doubt or guilty feelings quickly melted away.  Because in the words of Sweet Brown, one time You Tube sensation:  "Ain't nobody got time for that!"