Adrianne Simeone, The Mama Bear Effect
I love this sentiment. It resonates.
This website is powerful and useful beyond measure. And I love the name of it, “The Mama Bear Effect.”
In the most literal sense, I am an example of a “Mama Bear.”
I was a single mother since my son was just a wee tot. He was just three years old when my ex and I separated. It was not until he was ten when I remarried My Michael and, with his two boys, we became a new family.
Those seven years were a challenging time.
In my eyes, it was my responsibility to overcompensate for our divorce. I stayed married for many years: Much longer than was healthy because I did not want him to be the only child of a broken home.
I finally realized that our family had been broken for years.
Come hell or high water, I was going to make up for it. I was going to make up for the shuffling between homes, heartbreaking transitions, and he had one parental kiss each night.
I spoiled him. I intervened when I should have let him work things out on his own. I was overly protective and keenly aware if anyone looked askance at him. I sided with him almost all the time.
And he ate a lot of ice cream.
One day, I was meddling in some situation with my child; One in which I had no business meddling. My friend’s husband candidly pointed it out to me by saying, “Mary, STOP being the Mama Bear!”
I shook my head, trying to shake those words around so that I could understand his intention.
I did not KNOW I was the Mama Bear. I was constantly keeping my eye on the prize: Winning the Mother-of-the-Year Award. It never even dawned on me.
He was right.
I mulled over that for a long time. I journaled about it. I tried to connect the dots. I prayed about it. I finally get it.
I am a survivor of sexual abuse. The trauma and aftermath of which wreaks havoc on its victims psychological, physical and general health. It rears its ugly head in eating disorders, addiction, perfection, low self-worth, low self-esteem, and perfectionism.
I possess many of these qualities, mostly perfectionism, but also another. Being ENOUGH.
I have never felt as if I or my efforts have been enough.
I have always had unrealistic expectations of myself. I needed to be the smartest, prettiest, most successful, thinnest, best- you name it. And the reality is that I will never be the “-est.” And realizing that, after holding it as truth for so long, is a hard pill to swallow.
To me, the ultimate test of being the perfectionist is mothering.
Being a survivor evokes a heightened sense of overprotection. It’s not about holding my child’s hand while crossing the street or making sure that every electrical outlet had that little plastic safety thingy on it.
I had to guard him.
I had to be sure that NO ONE could get to him. I was willing to die a long and painful death to ensure that he would not suffer the way I had.
And there have been many times that this “Mama Bear” exited her cave, claws out, growling and ready to protect her cub.
The trauma of my abuse permeated its way into my parenting skills.
My cousin, Laura and I reported our abuse to the police, an investigation ensued, and Laura’s blog post went viral. Then it became clear that I had to tell my kids what happened to me. In hindsight, I should have had the conversation long before.
A few people asked, “Are you going to tell the boys?”
A few people asked, “What are you going to tell the boys?”
I will admit that I was nervous.
It was not the fear that they would be upset. It was not the notion that they would feel uncomfortable. I was ready to talk about it openly and shamelessly. I was ready for the hard questions and the answer.
The question to which I feared the answer more than any other.
“Has anyone ever done anything to make you feel uncomfortable? Has anyone ever acted in an abusive manner? “Has anyone ever sexually abused you?”
I held my breath.
Glory be. Thank you, God.
We have got to have a heightened sense of the eminent danger to our kids. Because it is happening right under our noses.
Abuse is happening families and in circles of close friends. “Stranger Danger” is an inaccurate cliche that masks a hard topic. Everybody, strangers make up only five percent of abusers.
I have always used the term “Mama Bear” in a not-so-favorable manner. But quite to the contrary, “The Mama Bear Effect” sheds light on this term positively and pro-actively, giving powerful and poignant information. The content includes topics like how to talk to your children about abuse, how to prevent abuse and how to detect the signs of abuse.
I love big and try to mend all the hurts. I shield, over-compensate and fiercely protect my kids. I probably won’t change those things, but I will move on with a conscious heart and mind as I parent.
So, now my charge, with my cousin, is to educate others; children, parents and anyone else who will listen. We speak appropriately, clearly, candidly and with conviction about abuse. We want you to speak, too.
Because, everyone, our children’s lives depend on it.