There is a Disney movie that came out last year called "Brave." I love this movie for two reasons. First, because it shows the strength of women. Secondly, because it illustrates the strongest emotion I have ever known.
In one of the final scenes, a mother (who has been transformed into a bear) is chained down to the ground so that she, in all her bear strength, cannot move. Then, in a twist of action, a gigantic, freakishly ugly, mean bear races toward her daughter. There is a moment where the mother bear's eyes grow large with the realization that her daughter is about to be killed. Then, before you can blink, the mother bear, who could not even raise one paw under the weight of the chains, breaks every link in the restraints, battles the fierce bear with a ferocity and violence that causes fear in small children, and eventually outwits the behemouth as she crushes him beneath a giant boulder.
By the end of this scene, I had tears streaming down my cheeks. Never- never- have I cried at a Disney movie, but I cried in this one. Why? This movie shows the true strength of a mother. If she is attacked by a stronger or braver opponent, she will die. If her child is attacked, she will destroy the danger, no matter how big or strong.
This is the thing I know for certain. God may not have embued me with great strength, ability, or imagination. He may not have made me to rule governments or build companies. He may not have made me as anything other than a puny, blonde-headed, school teacher, but he made me a mother. And in so doing, He made me mightier than the mighty and braver than the brave.
I have always cherished my role as a mother. I have always been willing to do for my children what I am not willing to do for myself. I have always worked to care for them, even at the expense of my own well-being. This is what mother's do. This is what I want to do.
During the last five years, my family has endured significant change. We went from a traditional nuclear family to a divorced family, and now my children have two families- one with mom and stepdad, and one with dad and stepmom. It has been a roller coaster of emotions, as every time we all adjust to one lifestyle, another change occurs and we all have to redefine our roles. It is rocky, it is frustrating, and so many days I just feel like bashing somebody's head into a rock (usually my own). One of my major problems is that I believe there is a distinction between parent and stepparent. There are many things that stepparents are great at, many things they are learning to do, and many activities that are wonderful for them to do with kids. The problem is that there are many things that I don't like them doing with my kids. I am the mom. And I do not accept anyone else sharing that role (I also believe this about their father).
Today, after my ex told me that I was being hateful and jealous of his wife (don't get me started on this one) because I do not want her to be the one taking my son to the doctor when he is sick, I stopped to meditate and see what my problem actually is. This, of course, led me to the conclusion that I seem to end up at often, divorce never stops hurting.
I realized there were two reasons I did not want my son's stepmother to take him to a doctor's appointment.
First, I don't trust her. I just don't. Their father loves her and trusts her, which is good, but she is a virtual stranger to me, and in this divorced world, I am being asked to put my children's safety and well being into the hands of someone I do not know- which goes against all parenting instinct.
Secondly, I had to address the issues of hatred and jealousy. I do not hate her, for I believe to hate someone you have to love them first. But jealousy, that is different. I realized I am jealous of one thing: She has fifty percent of the time with my kids. Time is everything. This woman gets to spend fifty percent of my children's childhood with them, and I don't. Damn skippy I'm jealous of that. Those are my babies. That is my sick son who she is holding. My son. My blood, my tears, my bones, my years, my baby in someone else's arms.
And there you have it. Another woman, who I don't trust, is holding my sick son tonight.
And then, as I am frustrated with myself for feeling this anger, for not accepting the situation more gracefully, I think of that mama bear. I think of how God created me. He made me a mama bear. He made me this way for a reason. He made me to rage at someone I don't trust taking my child. He made me to want to protect my child from the unknown. He created me to protect, to comfort, and to nurture my son.
If I weren't upset about this, I wouldn't be what God made me to be. I am supposed to be a mama bear. And what our society is doing, what I have done to myself by getting a divorce, is to try to stop that mama bear instinct. I have to overcome it.
On the one hand, this makes me less frustrated that I feel this way. This is how God intended me to be.
On the other hand, this makes me more frustrated that I feel this way. It is so unfair to all of us.
And after this discovery, after the tears that will not end, after the rage that consumes my mind, after I have made myself sick with the grief of it all, after all of this- my son is still hurting. My son still needs me. My son is still in another woman's arms.
And the mama bear dies a little inside me.
Does this make me a better mom? Does this make me less of a mom?
And the mama bear roars in agony
and slinks back to her cave
to rage against the walls
where only she will hear
the echoes of her breaking heart.