Thursday, November 8, 2012

My Cub

An excerpt from an article originally published in the Daily Mail UK, online, 9/26/11

Clinging on for dear life to the side of a vertical cliff, the tiny lion cub cries out pitifully for help.  His mother arrives at the edge of the precipice with three other lionesses and a male. The females start to clamber down together but turn back daunted by the sheer drop.
Eventually one single factor determines which of them will risk her life to save the youngster – motherly love.

Slowly, agonizingly  the big cat edges her way down towards her terrified son, using her powerful claws to grip the crumbling cliff side. One slip from her and both animals could end up dead at the bottom of the ravine.
Just as the exhausted cub seems about to fall, his mother circles beneath him and he is snatched up in her jaws. She then begins the equally perilous journey back to the top. 

Minutes later, they arrive and she gives the frightened creature a consoling lick on the head. 

Go on, grab a Kleenex.  Nature is such a powerful teacher.  If I'm being very honest, sometimes I'm afraid that I'm messing this whole motherhood thing up.  Should I be spending more time with him?  Should I be scolding him in different ways?  He's not even 2 yet so he can't always find the words to communicate with me and I sometimes imagine this silent scream (which is not often silent) coming from within him out of frustration that I just don't get it.

Mama said there'd be days like this

Last night Jack woke up in a fit of screaming.  He's getting his 2 year molars in and I can only imagine the agony.  In a reverse of the mother lion I ascended the cliff, otherwise known as our stairs and found my cub.  I brought him back downstairs to sleep with us in our bed.  Eventually, this amounts to his feet digging into Trevor's back and his skull nestled in between my shoulder blades.  From an aerial point of view, we make a big letter H.

Happy haphazard harbor

Trevor and I have oft repeated the parental mantra, "he won't be this little forever" and we wearily tell this to each other as we lay there preparing for what will be a long night.  Before Jack begins his bedtime break dance routine I feel his little warm body nestled against mine.

"Is he spooning me?" I ask.

"Ha. Yeah." says Trevor.

"Good." I reply.

I can't always be with my cub.  That's what separates us from the mother lions I suppose. Because I'd descend any cliff to rescue him, that's for sure.  So I think about the ways I am there for him and the times I do make sacrifices for him and that brings me some comfort even when I lose sleep.  I know that someday Jack will be making me lose sleep when he's not under my roof, when he's far, far away at school or work or with his own family.  I'll lose sleep in a warm bed with lots of room to roll around because he's no longer here.  So I will allow myself to lose sleep knowing that his little body is next time mine breathing and dreaming.  

And every new day is a fresh start as a mom.  I'll mess things up, I'll make things right.  I'll feel alternately racked with guilt and bursting with pride at the choices I make and the wonder that is my son.

And I know that he won't be this little forever, but he will always be my cub.

Incidentally, I can also tell you another thing that separates us from the lions.  Here's one last photo from that article.  Notice the three lionesses and the one clearly enlightened male lion attempting to climb down the cliff?  Notice the other male Lion relaxing off to the side?  Most likely thinking of his next hunt or the upcoming presidential election between Simba and Timon.  Well that ain't our daddy lion.  Before I ascended those stairs last night, Trevor had already gone up and I found him holding our cub whispering in Jack's ear as tears streamed down those tiny cheeks that everything would be alright.

With a pride like that, there's no way we'll mess this up.

"Looks like they have a good handle on the situation."

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