The Love of a Mama Bear

I tried to explain to my husband recently the intricate workings of the heart of a mama. How we mama bears want to nurture and help, rescue and protect. He listened as I did my best to paint a picture of my overwhelming desire to see them thrive. After all, they’re my babies with whom I have an unexplainable bond perfectly created as they grew within my body, beautifully formed as I pursued our adopted children through years of paperwork and prayer.

When my children hurt, I feel it too. When they’re sick, I swoop in with Kleenex or a bucket. If someone hurts them, I come with  claws out and teeth bared; don’t mess with my cubs!  If my children are in need, I want to provide.

My husband and I were talking about my mama-bear heart because he saw that it was obviously heavy. I had been in a tough place for a while really, and my sweet husband spoke life to me. He had watched my deep desire to love them  become a heavy burden.  Their choices, mistakes, failures, and struggles were resting on my chest like a heavy weight. I was angry, worried, afraid, and tired.

Honestly, I rarely feel like I know what I’m doing lately. Five teenagers and one tween. Adopted kids wading through past trauma and loss.  I have been  desperately trying to gain control and make sense of it all, and in the process I’ve almost buried myself. Maybe you are here too, drowning in the waters of parenting. Waves of uncertainty are crashing overhead as you deal with the poor choices, rebellious attitudes, and struggles of your children. As my sweet husband reminded me, I am reminding you now that as much as we want our children to thrive, our Heavenly father wants that for us mama bears too.

Four Pitfalls of Mama Bear

It’s all my fault.

I have often asked myself, “what did I do wrong?” In my faulty belief system, I believed that if I did my part and was a “good” mom that my children would make great choices. Then God reminded me that he is the perfect parent, yet I still screw up and rebel. Why was I expecting something more from my children who have an imperfect mother? I cannot live under blame. Blaming myself for my kids’ mistakes is not healthy. My children and your children are free to choose and free to fail.

Mama Bear should rescue her cubs.

There have been times when I put my day on hold and raced across town to rescue my forgetful child who needed a folder left at home. Maybe I should have let that child experience the consequence that could have taught her a lesson in responsibility. Some of my children have to learn that way. Watching your child suffer under a consequence is tough, but sometimes it’s exactly what they might need. Rescue can become enabling if we are not careful. This requires a lot of prayer and discernment. I have a hard time watching my kids fail. I carry their failure instead of entrusting them to God. Someone reminded me that there is no safer place for our kids to fail that while they are under our roofs and our covering.

 It’s not up to me.

There’s an easy way to know if you are trusting God with your children. How much time do you spend worrying about their future? When my teenage kids stumble, my first reaction has been fear. I quickly forget that it is not up to me- their futures are in the hands of their perfect Savior.  I am here to love and guide them as he directs and empowers me. That’s all. I don’t have to worry and fear for them. They are His and he is way better at this parenting thing than I am.

 Forgetting they’re only cubs.

In my fear and worry, under my blame and the burden of my children’s mistakes, I soon only see their mistakes. I want them to thrive so much that my expectations become unreasonable. I forget what cute cubs are running around my house. I don’t see the great things they’re doing. I don’t hear their hearts because I am too focused on their behavior. Mama Bear is now no fun to live with. At all.

I was not prepared for the consuming love I would have for my children. It has helped me understand the love of God in a whole new way. It has broken my heart and brought me to my knees. I appreciate my own parents more. More than anything, I  am learning how much I need Jesus. I am learning to let go of control, and pray to the one who loves them more.

Mama Bear love is strong, but it was not designed to carry all of our children’s mistakes and struggles as our own. May the fierce love we feel for our children bring us to the Father on their behalf.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.  Psalm 62:8

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