Now, I identify way too much with that mamma polar bear. And I know that what I was witnessing was not cute. It was not sweet. It was a mom freaking the heck out about the millions of dangers that her little one was being exposed to. Where was the life guard? The life jacket? Why was there no sunscreen available? How deep was the pool, was it warm enough, and when was the last time it was cleaned? Did that kid just sneeze in the direction of her cub without covering his mouth??
My son is two, and almost every day (sometimes every hour) I have to fight the very real urge to be that mom. The mom who sprays a can of Lysol ahead of her as she walks through Walmart with her child. The mom who freaks out because her son waved a kind-of-sharp-looking piece of toast near his eye. The mom who puts a winter hat on her child 11 months out of the year. The mom who (this is true) was planning to have the backyard jungle gym that came with our house torn down because the slide was too steep.
Before I became a mom, I didn't even know that "mama bear" was in me, and now I spend much of my time trying to shush her. "It's good that he's learning to be more independent," I tell her in a soothing voice. "Even if he skins his knee, he's going to be fine. I promise, nobody ever died of hypothermia in 67 degree weather."
Yesterday I took Lucas to an art and music festival. A group called The Wanna Bees (great band for kids, by the way) was playing on stage, and they were encouraging the kids to dance and jump along with the music. At first, Lucas stayed on my lap.
|Yes, he has a mustache. Instead of a regular face-painting booth, they had a free mustache booth.|
Lucas kept calling it his "mustard."
As silly as it might sound, I felt so proud of him. And maybe a little teary (dang pregnancy hormones.) He stood up there calmly and clapped his hands at all the right times (ok, so he was supposed to be pretending to hammer, but he's two. It's close enough.)
It made me glad that I'd silenced my inner mama bear long enough to let my little cub be brave and have a fun new experience. It even made the temper tantrum that he threw when he had to come down worth it... almost. So in the future, I'm going to make a more concerted effort to back off ever so slightly while my son explores his world. I even agreed to keep the slide (see? I'm growing.)
But if you ever run into me at the zoo and you see me exchange a long look with one of the polar bears, don't be surprised. It's just that we have this kind of unspoken connection. She totally gets me.