I am mother, hear me roar

Published 5:12 pm Saturday, March 10, 2012

Before I became a mom, I thought of myself as “fierce.” I considered myself the kind of woman who would get her hackles up about anything, fight the fight and stand up for injustices in the world, with a whole lot of “grrrrrr” behind her.

I said yes to every cause anyone asked me to be involved with, especially if there was to be a fight, sometimes to my embarrassment. But now that I am a mother, I find I have fine-tuned my ferocious side. It doesn’t show itself for any cause or person, just mostly my children.

Motherhood deepens our capability for empathy and increases our ability to take action. Before motherhood, I was “assertive,” to use a polite word. It’s not that I went around looking for fights, but I could argue with the best of them and would go to battle over anything. Now that I’m somebody’s mom, I still have no problem standing up to injustice, disrespect and bad behavior of all kinds, but, if that bad behavior might hurt my child, watch out! You can come at me all you like without too much risk of getting swatted by my lioness’ paw, but don’t mess with my kids. Ever.

I’m not the only mom I know who has undergone this fine-tuning of skills. I find it interesting how many women I know spend their lives silently putting up with all kinds of garbage, but suddenly find their voice (and the courage to use it) when they need to stand up for their kids. With age I have lost some of my ability, drive and desire to speak out for my own benefit, but I am able to do so on behalf of my kids, better than I ever would have done just for myself.

Ultimately, it’s not aggression that is behind a mother’s roar, it is love. Something about having a child of your own makes it so much harder to witness the pain and suffering that surrounds us. There are days when I could do without the added weight of these deeply felt concerns, but, ultimately, I feel that they are an important part of the person I have become, a mother. It is delightful to watch my daughter learn at my side like a cub studying the ways of the lionesses in the pride. I have to think twice and be consistent as I can when I can see understanding in her eyes as I get on a roll. I love that she is starting to experiment with her own roar … even when she’s roaring at me.

On the savannah, the lionesses lead the pride. It is these fierce and loyal female lions who do the hunting that keeps their young well fed and who strike fear into the hearts of enemies that would do their cubs harm. I believe that’s why you see so many women out in the world advocating and trying to right the wrongs. It’s not about their pride, they are trying to protect their “prides.”

I’m proud to be my children’s mom and proud to let loose with my own roar. I’m grateful that motherhood has helped me to fine tune my voice and taught me how best to use it. Watch out world … hear me ROAR!


A Yankee with a Southern soul, Gillian Pollock is a wife, mother of two ever-challenging children and director of Christian Formation at Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington.