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  • Patti

Mama Bears

At that time I didn’t know there was an official name for Moms like me. I didn’t know there were more than the few other Moms I had knew. It would be several years before I ran across a book with a link to a website and discovered the term, “Mama Bear”. Two words that say a lot. Being who I was and having already experienced what I would need to do to support my son, I could infer a lot.

I teach elementary aged children how to infer, make educated guesses about words or phrases they do not know. I would say to the children,

“What do you know about bears?” The answer might be - They are big. They are brown or black. They live in the wild. I don’t want to meet one when I am in the woods. They will attack when they feel threatened.

“What do you know about mamas?” They are also called Mom or Mother or Ma. They have children. They love their children. They protect their children and keep them safe.

“And if you put the two together, what do you infer that this ‘Mama Bear’ term means?”

A big bear-like creature who loves their children. A powerful creature who would do anything, use anything, risk anything in order to protect their children.

Even a child can figure out why we are called, “Mama Bears”.

I didn’t know other Mama Bears existed. Why would I? I wasn’t looking for other Mama Bears. “Safe” in a conservative church, the topic never came up. A few friends had gay children who were now young adults. A few reached out in love to them. Others buried that knowledge deep in their soul, hoping it would go away. No one talked about their situations.

“Mama Bears” in these scenarios are more than a standard mother bear because they choose to take into their den some of the many abandoned cubs whose own families will not protect them. LGBTQ individuals who are kicked out of their homes. Turned away. Abandoned. Banished.

What kind of Mama would abandon their cubs? And what kind would reach out to cubs they did not know and who were not from their den?

I needed to connect Mamas with each other. I needed to find others who were laying low, unable to share and without support. Others who felt alone. Others who wanted to support their children but perhaps didn’t know how. Others who were trying to make sense of what they felt in their gut but that was contrary to what they had been taught.

Just as I didn’t want my son to feel alone in his new-found identity, I didn’t want these Mamas to be alone in their quest to love their cubs. I saw there were ways to connect online, but there needed to be a way to find people in my area that were going through the same thing.

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