We had anticipated its release for months, watched and re-watched the Brave trailers and teasers, planned what our excursion to see it in theaters would be like. Then we found out that, my husband was going to have to be out of town for the memorial service of his beloved uncle when the movie was released. We, ourselves, would have to be brave. We would wait for him to get home to see it. Then his wonderful aunt stepped in with a solution.
She sent tickets for us to go see the movie here while she and Mark would see it there and then we would Skype about how absolutely wonderful it was. It was perfect. Perfect, except that by the time we sat down in the theater I had been single parenting it for nearly a week. Yeah, I have a couple adult children but I will remind you that all of them have ADHD so they really aren't always 20 and 18 years old - they're on occasion, most occasions, more like 17 and 15 years old.
That day we had endured the accomplishment of chores (used the movie as a motivator), scorching Central Valley heat with no air conditioner, a trip with seven kids into the store to get movie treats (that's right I took seven indecisive kids into the store for treats). Not to mention trying to get from the entrance of the theater past all the distracting movie posters, video games, shiny lights, and survey-takers to make it to our screening. I had mediated arguments, consoled candy woes, redirected and redirected and redirected again, reminded pretty much everyone what socially acceptable behavior was repeatedly.
Finally, the screen darkened, the movie played, and I watched as the beautiful faces sitting down the row from me lit up with excitement and wonder. I took a breath, a deep one, I made it, and it all looked promising. Then I watched the movie... Wait a minute! This was my house on the screen if you multiply the fiery redhead a couple times and add another brother or two. Even the kids kept nudging me and whispering, "It's US!" And the mom, the one constantly trying to keep order, teach social etiquette, and help her daughter grow into the wonderful powerful leader she knows she is going to be...me.
Suddenly, I wasn't so sure I wanted to be in the theater anymore. It wasn't the magical escape from reality I was expecting...it was my life! And then the mother got turned into a bear. Really!? I smiled and nodded through Skype. Later, I would confide to my husband that the jury was still out on this movie for me. I would somewhat tearfully tell him that I was ready for him to come home.
Since then I have thought a lot about it. I am that mom, I am a mother bear when I need to be, and I am okay with that.
We mother bears research disorders setting aside pleasure reading for books like The Out of Sync Child has Fun, Attention Deficit Disorder: The Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults, and Overcoming Dyslexia.
We mother bears tell social stories, teach our children how to recognize when they're getting overstimulated by using number and smiley/angry face scales, we teach self-advocacy, right the world when it's unfair and unbalanced (which is nearly every day). We console children who know they're different from their peers who recognize that they will never get an award for staying on task, keeping a clean desk, turning in all their homework on time.
We mother bears fight back very real demons like self-doubt and inadequacy. Sometimes those demons creep in on the heals of well-meaning but misinformed adults who don't understand the harm their looks, words, and actions can do. We stand between our children and those who don't understand, no matter who they are, sometimes even family, to advocate and educate.
We mother bears are up all night with kids who fight insomnia, depression, anxiety. We are at the school helping mediate in the classroom, we are in the principles office, at 504/IEP meetings often feeling guilty and accused when really we are just trying to protect and help what's ours.
We mother bears laugh at the comedic brilliance, at silliness, and uniqueness. We see greatness in our child's perseverance, diligence, and endurance. We glory in every bit of progress we see and trust me, we see the most minute bits of progress as huge steps. We see potential when the world sees trouble.
You know, I would rather be a mother bear than anything else in the world. In some respects, I am here to say bring it on! This mother bear is here to stay. Because at the end of the day, like at the end of the movie, I know my kids recognize how important it is for me to be their mother bear. How do I know? My daughter has set a date for us to go see Won't Back Down. She says we have to see it together, "Because it's about a mom that takes on the school for her daughter, just like you."