Even Mama Bears Have Rough Days

MiguelB (Creative Commons)


I’ve been at Lake Anna a lot this summer where my mother has a lake house. My siblings and their families have been in and out, and when they’re not here, I’ve spent a lot of time reading and studying, walking my dog Brock, kayaking and riding my bike. It’s been a great summer in many ways.

One of my sisters has a daughter who’s middle-school age. My niece invited two of her friends to join her at the lake, and I think the kids had a great time. This said, I did notice from time to time that the two girl friends went off by themselves, and it caused my niece some heartbreak not being included. I also watched my sister trying to navigate through complicated mental gymnastics as she weighed just how much to get involved, and how much to let her daughter manage the situation on her own. I honestly think the whole scene was more difficult on my sister than on my niece.

This same day my middle sister and brother-in-law took their second child to college as a rising freshman. While my sister and brother-in-law and niece were unloading their car and getting my niece’s dorm room all set up, my brother-in-law noticed two other girls pointing toward my niece and laughing at her for what she was wearing. My poor brother-in-law weighed what he had seen, chose to share it with my sister, who, while at dinner, chose to share it with my niece. Tears poured out of my niece as she questioned her decision to attend the college where she had just arrived. My sister drove back to northern Virginia with a lump stuck in her throat beating herself up over whether or not she had done the right thing by mentioning the scene to my niece.

On my drive back to northern Virginia from the lake that same night, while I was driving the back country roads, a bear cub ran in front of my truck and was struck by a pick-up truck coming in the opposite direction. I screeched to a halt and backed up my truck. The other truck driver turned around and pulled up behind me. I will never be able to forget what I saw in those next few seconds. Tattooed to my mind is that baby bear writhing in pain, flipping itself over and over again, and finally flat on its stomach, pulling itself by its front paws into the woods.

Standing next to my truck with the other driver, I said, “You’re calling the police, right?” When he hesitated for a minute I said, “If you don’t call the police, I will.” He said he would, and that through them he’d connect with Animal Control, and that maybe the authorities could help the young cub back to health. I stayed with the man, who was obviously shook up by what had happened, as he called the police for assistance.

After he had connected to the police dispatcher, I started to leave. As I was leaving he said, “Where’s the cub’s Mom?” He and I both knew she was not far from where we were standing, and that neither of us should approach the cub ourselves.

As I continued my drive home, all I could do was think of that poor cub and its poor mother. I’m sure she watched helplessly as the two-legged animals did whatever they could to aid her cub. I’ll never know what happened, but I have almost convinced myself that the cub was not as badly hurt as it appeared, and that he is now frolicking in a pasture with his sister, while his mother watches nearby… all of them a little wiser for having survived a near-disaster.

Today my eldest sister is taking her fourth child back to college where he will begin his second year. She says it gets easier with practice and that in the end time does heal; but that every day is filled with another “growing opportunity” for Moms all over the world. Truer words were never spoken. Moms have a tough job to be sure. Yes, I know Moms’ lives are also filled with many, many blessings, but when a child hurts, the child’s mother hurts too. One time I heard it said that a mother is only as happy as her saddest child. Whew. That’s huge. God bless all Moms, not just on Mother’s Day, but on all days.

Peace friends,



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