One of the strongest mothering instincts is that of the lioness: an irresistible urge to protect. In more flippant moments, that means me finding that Mama Bear feels ready to fight with someone else’s spoilt little brat at the soft play centre. Sometimes it means treading the delicate balance between wanting them to explore their world and protecting them from danger. And sometimes it means worrying about the world I’ve brought them into; the hideous things that people do, the dangers I can’t always prevent, and the struggles they may have to endure.
This week, I am reminded through the mental health issues of a member of my family that something I may be unable to protect my girls from is their own minds. Sometimes, our brains just don’t function the way they should, and no amount of wrapping my kids up in cotton wool is going to prevent that if it’s meant to be.
What has struck me this last week is how, in times of crisis, you really learn who your friends are. The phone calls and messages of support (yes, those living with or supporting those with mental health issues need help too) have been eye opening. People really do care!
And so this leads me to deduce that what I can do for my girls as they grow and eventually become cynical adults with fears, worries, anxieties and potential mental health issues (because these things can happen to anyone) is that I can be there for them. Listen to them. Look out for them. Give them space if they need me to. Look after them if they fall apart. Pick up the pieces when they break.
I look at their sweet, innocent little faces and I hate that I can’t just absorb all the horrors of this world and keep them forever happy. But I can take pride in doing everything I can to let them know that Mama Bear will always be there for them, even when the day comes that I can only be there in spirit. I am Mama bear – hear me ROARRR!