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Bear in Mind
by Joy Bach 
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In this life, I’m a woman. In my next life, I’d like to come back as a bear. When you’re a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months. I could deal with that.

Before you hibernate, you’re supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that too.

When you’re a girl bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you’re sleeping and wake to partially grown, cute, cuddly cubs. I could definitely deal with that.

If you’re a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too. Sounds good to me.

If you’re a bear, your mate expects you to wake up growling. He expects you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.

Yup, gonna be a bear.

Women used to know exactly what their role was in life. They played with dolls as children so they could grow up and become mothers and have children. It’s much easier to have your role as a mother laid out for you. I’ve been there. Keep them fed and clean. Make them behave. Get them to school on time. Simple, wasn’t it?

It’s not so simple any more.

For the mother of today, it is complicated, but much more rewarding. The mother grows along with the child, both before and after birth. She sees each child as an individual and treats them differently in discipline and play. There is no “One size fits all.”

That can mean standing by the gurney of a critically injured child without becoming hysterical. It may mean allowing your teenage daughter to climb in a car and move from Idaho to California one day after graduating from high school.

It all depends on what you want for your child.

Today’s mothers are even fighting in a war. That has put a whole new spin on motherhood. Sometimes it’s the dad who stays home and kisses the soldier goodbye.

Erma Bombeck said, “Mothers have to remember what food each child likes or dislikes, which one is allergic to penicillin and hamster fur, who gets carsick and who isn’t kidding when he stands outside the bathroom door and tells you what’s going to happen if he doesn’t get in right away. It’s tough. If they all have the same hair color, they tend to run together.”

After my first husband left, my three daughters and I lived in two rooms. We ate from a card table. We slept in bunk beds. We played games, took walks, told long stories and laughed a lot. We made up our own sign language so we could communicate during church, set off the smoke detector making grilled cheese sandwiches and tried to dig to China in the back yard,

But my kids look back on those days as some of the best days of their lives. They didn’t know we were poor.

My middle daughter, Lyn, loved to climb. If the object was sturdy enough to stay standing, she would conquer it. One of her delights was to climb the door frame and drop on her unsuspecting little sister, Rene’, as she passed through the door. One day, just after she completed a drop, I said, “I don’t ever want to see you do that again”.

An hour later, from another room I heard Rene’ howling in anger. Sure enough, the body bomb had dropped on her. I looked Lyn in the eye and asked, “What did I just tell you?”

Quickly she responded, “That you didn’t ever want to see me do that again. And you didn’t.”

The bear thing is looking better and better.

As mothers, we teach our children many things. Perhaps we have just cleaned the house and they are now fighting. Because we want them to appreciate a job well done, we say, “If you are going to kill each other, then take it outside. I just finished cleaning.”

How about this one? We teach them time travel. “If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of next week.”

And there will always be the logic of, “Because I said so, that’s why.”

Mothers teach their kids irony … “Keep crying and I’ll give you something to cry about.”

We talk about the weather when we walk into their room. “It looks like a tornado came through here. What happened?”

The Lion King movie isn’t the only place kids learn about the circle of life. Mothers all over the world have used this one. “I brought you into this world and I can take you out.”

Medical science has nothing on mothers. We know about the body and how it works. “If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way.”

Genealogy is always important in a family. And so we ask, “Do you think you were born in a barn?”

But children will always be children. Sometimes, as mother bears, we need to swat them.

I purchased a set of black plastic dishes once, after I saw an ad on television where they actually put a blowtorch to them and the dishes were strong enough to emerge unscathed. They also demonstrated the dish’s strength by playing Frisbee with them. Exactly one week after I bought the plastic dishes, Lyn brought one of our regular dinner plates to me with a large crack in it. When I asked what happened to it, she said it hit a tree.

I don’t want to talk about it. I’m ready to do that “bear” thing.

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Member Comments
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Connie Dixon 24 Oct 2010
And I definitely want to be a bear. Winter's coming and I'm ready. (gotta start eating)


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