The Mama Bear Factor

Column Post by Glenda Harbinson

As a young child growing up on a very large farm with many acres of woodland I was taught early on to never get between a wild animal and her young.  Quite honestly, I don’t recall a time when I did not know this. Even our farm animals could become dangerous if they thought their young were being threatened. I once separated a mother cat from a coon who was threatening her babies. She had little chance at winning that battle–but that wasn’t on her mind; protecting her young was first and foremost.

I understood this, I thought. And then I became a mother.  The instinct to protect my child from any sort of harm was so much stronger than anyone could ever have expressed to me.  From the least of threats like diaper rash to impending threats like babysitters who might not care for them as necessary, I vowed to protect and care for my children as fiercely as all the critters I had watched throughout life.

While there were days when I understood why sometimes animals eat their young, as I had more children and as they all grew up, the need to protect them didn’t grow weaker as I had thought it might.  In fact, as they began opening up their hearts to others, mother bear mode grew stronger.  Watching them step into the world and allow other people to become as important to them as their own very safe family was challenging.  I knew one day they would be hurt, and the protective instinct in me would lunge forward.

My protective fangs are out today. My oh-so-non-confrontational personality has been pushed back and my need to protect my child has taken over.  The steel toed boots, work gloves, and armor of God are in place as I bow my head in prayer for His wisdom in this role of guardian of the greatest gift God has given me on this earth:  my child.

This is where I realize that God loves me even more than I love my daughter.  He comes to my defense with more passion, more strength, more power than I could dream of having on my own.  While I love and guard my daughter with everything my human heart can muster, my heavenly Father loves and guards me and my daughter with even more.  He walks beside me as I protect her and He stands beside both of us in this situation.  We are His children.  He is our fierce protector.

I was once allowed the privilege of watching a batch of baby coons while their Mama sat close by guarding them carefully. I don’t know why she allowed me such close proximity, but I was privileged that day and I respected her and her right to guard her babies even from what I knew wasn’t truly dangerous. Just as those babies grew up and eventually protected themselves, my children will grow up and become the guardians of their own hearts.

For now, though far from perfect, I sit by and carefully guard against anything that even smells like danger.

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P.S. We’d love to know your thoughts; be sure to share in the comments section below. This month we will draw TEN winners from our commenters and the winners will receive one of these two  books, Hope for a Hurting Heart or To Let You Know I Care by our featured author this month, Cheryl Karpen

Glenda is a homeschooling mom of four in New Brunswick, Canada. She also fosters one teen and provides respite care and tutoring for another. She and her paramedic husband Mark have been married for 24 years. Glenda’s writings often reflect her personal experience parenting and teaching children with developmental and learning differences, as well as a particular empathy for moms with chronic illness. She blogs at and can be reached by emailing

Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)

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