Becoming a mother is the greatest thing that's ever happened to me.
It's also the scariest thing that's ever happened to me. Kids change you, challenge you, and bring out the worst and the best of you.
They also bring you into another level of awareness, don't they? You don't know fear until you have a sick baby, a hurt child, a child that ran around the corner and out of sight at the grocery store. Longest two minutes of your life.
"...For God has not given us a spirit of Fear; but of Power, and of Love, and of a sound mind."
Remembering that verse quite often, I choose not to parent out of fear. I don't want to live that way, and I don't want my children to live in fear of what "might" happen.
But fear doesn't have to be our motive when we choose to be aware of our surroundings and keep our children and ourselves safe.
And the speakers at our MOPS meeting brought just that message yesterday.
Here's what I gleaned from our meeting with John and Tami Popke.
1. Be Mama (Grizzly) Bear! Being our child's protectors and advocates may often mean getting fierce. When it comes to keeping our family safe, being polite may have to take a back seat. I know for me, I want everyone to feel good around me and I try to take people at their word. But trust your gut. And if you do find yourself in a dangerous situation, show that you are confident and not afraid to fight for your children and yourself.
2. Be aware! Maybe you don't really need to go to Target after dark. Or heaven forbid, WinCo. (I know you all have done it!) Putting the kids to bed and going shopping by ourselves is one of our mommy-luxuries, isn't it? But maybe a better solution is getting a sitter and shopping with your man on date night. Or call a mom friend (or two!) and go together. And when you do find yourself in a dim parking lot with shady characters lurking about, be aware of your surroundings. Choose not to be, or behave like, a victim. Choose to wait a minute to leave the store if you see someone hanging around your car. (Char's Tip: You might ask mall or store security for an escort to your car! That's what they are there for, utilize them!)
3. Be prepared! The Popkes suggested some ways we can be prepared in case we end up in a vulnerable situation. First, keep your car ready for an emergency, or in the event you must leave the car behind. Pack a "ready bag" for you and your children. Keep extra food, water, and first aid items. Put an extra pair of walking shoes in your car as well. Keep your gas tank full.
Another way you can be prepared is to either keep a weapon or pepper spray-- either on your person or in your car. The Popke's suggested a stun gun, a knife, or a high beam flashlight, all of which can be purchased online. But don't rely only on these items! Remember, you are fierce, and anything can be used as a weapon. Be aware of what you have on hand that you could use against an attacker. You may also consider taking a self-defense class.
After this meeting, I realized I was lacking. I'm not prepared. I'm not always aware. I may have already put myself and my children in compromising situations.
In spite of that realization, I didn't leave feeling fearful; I left feeling empowered. Being brave doesn't mean sitting back and accepting that bad things happen--it means recognizing that bad things WILL happen, and being ready for them.
As mothers, I'm sure we all wish we could protect our precious littles from every evil in this world. But ladies, evil abounds. It's here, and we are not exempt from it, and neither are our children. But instead of allowing this to worry us, keeping us up at night, thinking of worst case scenarios... Let's stand up tall, throw our shoulders back, and be the mama-bears God made us to be.
Don't be afraid, be aware. Don't be a victim, be a fighter. Don't just be a bear, be a Grizzly.