Friday Flip Offs 3/4: Mama Bear Syndrome

I knew it was going to be a rough week when I opened the microwave to get my breakfast on Tuesday and found this:

It was supposed to be oatmeal

One of the best things about being a mom is getting to witness my children experience pure joy.

One of the worst things about being a mom is having to watch your child  in pain and be able to do nothing about it. For days. And days.

So I guess I first vehemently flip off a wiry, pink and purple rubber-banded, metal mouth finger to braces. You suck. For everyone. Both the girls got braces this week, but The Tortoise has either handled it better, or The Hare has a lower pain tolerance than I thought. Everyday has been reduced to tears and barely solid food. Sleep has been interrupted numerous times. Between the lack of food, sleep and constant pain (Tylenol did nothing) The Hare was drained of all energy and ability to cope with even the smallest challenge. It broke my heart – made me a nervous wreck and anxious about how to alleviate this pain that I caused her, no matter how necessary. Add to the mix, being busy with a project that I have allowed to consume me unnecessarily, distracting me from the house, laundry and daily tasks and you end up with a Friday full of female hormonal electricity and a dirty house. (Did I mention that I have out-of-town guests coming tomorrow night?)

Today, I became one of “those” moms – the kind that pulls their kid out of school for a gymnastics meet. The kind who makes a special trip to Big Boy and begs the waitress to please ask the kitchen to scrounge up a cupful of chocolate chips (which they did) because she promised chocolate chip pancakes and they are not on the menu and we should have just gone to I-HOP in the first place even though it was in the total opposite direction. The kind who is decked out in team spirit wear, with her child’s photo button proudly pinned to her chest, and armed with a gymnastics scoring app on her phone.

After a long week of tears and anxiety, I desperately wanted this to be a good day. It had to be a good day, for both of us. And it turned out to be amazing. The Hare scored her highest points of the season. I couldn’t wait to get to the awards area to finally see some big smiles on that sweet face. There had been a real lack of joy this week. But when we got to the awards, her name wasn’t called for any of the 8 year olds. Scores and names flew by, and still no Hare. Our eyes locked from across the room, the confusion in her face said it all. She was lost. Her eyes started to well-up as she simply shrugged her shoulders with that, “I guess they forgot me” assumption.

This was more than my mommyness could handle – the braces, the schedule, the disappointments and certainly the lack of sleep had finally paid its toll. The damn simply broke. My cheeks got flush and I asked the parent next to me what she thought was going on. Her daughter’s name hadn’t been called either – we were both in a quandary. No one seemed to have a real answer.

A big fat hairy and totally emotional middle finger salute goes to that crazy Mama Bear Syndrome. I left my seat and ran out the door to find someone who worked there. Surely someone would have the answer. I started to cry – I’m not even sure why, but the tears came and all I could think of was that missing smile on my daughter’s face. Here’s the thing about Mama Bear syndrome. It is irrational and solves nothing. Although my intentions were in the right place, my body was not. I needed to be in that room so when my daughter’s name was finally called in the next age group, she would have been able to see me. She would have been able to show me her medal right away from the podium and not wonder where in the world did I go during her special moment. I flip off my lack of self-control too.

It only took me a few minutes to walk back in, and I got to see her medal three more times, but it took some work for me to get her attention and show her I hadn’t left. I had just moved. Finally, I saw a small smile mixed in with several swipes to her weepy eyes.

This is what I learned about gymnastics this week. It is complicated and confusing. A very frustrated double back hand spring flip off to being a newbie and having to learn as we go. What I learned today was that at State Qualifying Meets (SQM’s) and at the State Meets, kids are grouped for awards by the age they will be the month of the State Meet. For us, our State Meet is the end of April. The Hare turns 9 the middle of April. However, all other meets (Invitational) the kids are grouped together at the discretion of the hosting gym. It could be by their current age or the age they will be at the State Meet. It might even be by what age they are when they registered for that meet. Who knows, they might even be grouped together by some random draw of birth dates.  There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to grouping. This is our first year competing like this and we didn’t know this information. In fact, our previous five meets have all been grouped by their current age. So – The Hare has gone to five meets and was grouped with 8 year olds. Today, she was grouped with the 9 year olds because this gym grouped them by the age they will be at State. Unfortunately, they didn’t announce this or write it in their program. I angrily in-your-face flip off inconsistency and the inability to set kid’s (and new parents) expectations.

It turned out to still be an amazing day. The Hare scored all 9’somethings, medalled in all 4 events and took 4th in All Around. (She had the 4th highest score in the 9 age group). She was smiling when she left. Braces and all.

5 thoughts on “Friday Flip Offs 3/4: Mama Bear Syndrome

  1. Wow … that’s really young for braces! Don’t you have to wait for all your baby teeth to fall out? I got my braces when I was twelve and got them off when I was thirteen … no one I know has ever had them younger than eleven, and I know someone who’s got them in her thirties! (or forties, I’m not sure).

    1. I agree, it is young but she has a baby tooth fused to her jaw bone which has caused her back teeth to collapse. The braces are too upright those back teeth so that we can have oral surgery to remove that tooth growing into her jaw bone.

  2. She looks perfectly happy and smiley in her new braces. More of those amazing smiles are sure to come and she will continue to look for you in the crowd. Someday she will be glad you are the Momma Bear that makes you Mom!

  3. Emily,
    Yea! For your daughter and yea for you too! Mother Bear and all! At times, I am reduced to crazy by my inner Mother Bear. It’s what we do! As much as people bad mouth “helicopter Moms” etc… Much of what we do is instinctual, just like a mother bear. It is painful to watch as disappointment falls on your child. But you both made it through. Emotions don’t have to be pretty. There are plenty of times I feel foolish and embarrassed by mine. I love my girls so much it hurts, so sometimes I go crazy. Other mommies totally get it.

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