Recently my child ran out in the middle of a parking lot at night. At the same time, a car was coming around the corner (albeit about 15-20 mph) and I screamed for my daughter to stop and pay attention! She came to a screeching halt. The car halted. And I felt a mixture of relief and fury at my kid for (yet again) not paying attention in a parking lot no matter how many times I’ve told her to stop running and have some awareness of what’s around her.
I meant to wave at the drive to thank them for stopping and apologize for my child darting in front of them. That was when the driver slammed on the horn and started screaming at my kid.
And then this white, cold rage rose inside of me. I told my daughter to walk to the sidewalk, and I felt a need to confront the driver, who then put her foot on the gas and drove the car right up until it was touching my knee. I don’t know why I didn’t get out of the way. I mean, she could have easily run over me. Then my kid wouldn’t have a parent. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING in my brain said, “Move.”
I just wasn’t thinking straight at that point. Here’s what I was thinking: my kid was in danger. Protect her. In the end, she decided against running over me (a wise choice for her, and a healthy one for me!), giving me the opportunity to tell her to slow down. It’s a parking lot, after all.
My husband rebuked my decision to stand firm against the woman in the car who was clearly trying to scare our kid. Admittedly, I saw his point. Once-while experiencing an earthquake at our house in LA, I ran to guard our baby, and my husband pulled me into a doorway to shield me. Sometimes I don’t think about the fact that I might need protecting. But when “Mama Bear” mode comes over me, I sort of turn into a beast.
Does this happen to anyone else? Have you ever experienced an irrational, instinctive protective impulse when you feel your child is being threatened? I’ve had to shove that instinct down at playgrounds if another child is being a bully, or if a teacher isn’t reaching my kid and doesn’t care about changing their tactic. In the end, we are our kid’s best advocates. And I’m not saying “blind rage” is the way to solve a problem. I’m just kind of floored by the intensity of the natural instinct.
“There is no greater warrior than a mother protecting her child.” -N.K. Jemisin