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The Making of a Mama Bear

Micah Pederson by Micah Pederson Additional Needs

Micah Pederson

Micah Pederson

I am a mom to two children biologically and many children through foster care. My husband and I have been married three years. Our foster home is a...

As I pulled up my email account and began to type the address of my foster daughter’s teacher into the recipient bar yet again, my heart sank.

My palms began to sweat and my stomach twisted into a seasick knot.

“I can’t believe I am doing this again. If I keep raising concerns, this entire district is going to write me off as ‘that mom.’”

But as I closed me eyes and took a deep breath, my girl’s sweet face filled my mind, and I remembered the promise I had whispered to her so often: “I will always, always fight for you.”

When I became a foster parent to children with special/medical needs a few years ago, I knew it would change me.

I hoped and prayed that I--the woman who hated any kind of friction or confrontation--could learn to speak up and stand my ground.

I hoped someday to discover my growl and be worthy of wearing one of those “Mama Bear” graphic tees.

But instead of a cute mama bear who was capable of baring a tooth or two and nipping a bit, this enormous and shockingly fierce grizzly emerged from deep inside me. I am not who I once was.

The first time a child who had special needs came to live with us, I remember being in total shock at the rudeness and ignorance we were immediately encountering.

Soon after, we added another little one to our home who had more intense medical needs.

I was horrified and almost in denial of the terrible comments we heard, the heartless questions we were asked, and the appalling, arrogant, and biased medical care our child was offered.

Those first few months, I kept my mouth mostly shut because I wasn’t sure I could do anything differently.

Soon after, our girl landed in the hospital, and I watched doctors gamble with her life and professionals treat her like an inconvenience and something less than human.

I sat for weeks, holding a little girl who was dancing with death, while those who were supposed to be caring for her seemed as if they couldn’t care less.

It was in those dark days that I came face-to-face with the force of the mama bear inside me.

She roared, and she roared loud.

I would no longer sit on the sidelines while those around me disregarded the life of a precious child.

Whether the person at fault was a doctor, family member, or stranger at the grocery store, I would no longer allow the children in my care to be the ones sacrificed—at least not without mama bear baring teeth and claws on every side.

Since then, grizzly mama bear has become a part of who I am daily. I have battled school districts, the medical community, the legal system, strangers, and even family and friends.

My daily life is wrapped around six little people who fill my heart and home.

Because I am so closely connected with them, I can no longer view aspects of the world without their filters.

When comments are made, I interpret them as my child would and feel the need to correct terms used and questions asked.

When we enter a new environment, I am hyper-conscious of the stimulation my children encounter and have been known to ask people to quiet down or adjust lighting.

When a professional of any kind makes decisions based on anything other than the well-being and greatest protentional of my little one, I will call them out and demand change.

I do not take no for an answer when my grizzly mama gut tells me I should not.

I will not give up because I have a promise to keep.

Of course, standing up to others causes friction. I am not always liked.

Sadly enough, I have seen my need to protect my own push some who were once close to me far away.

People can be so afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing, and thus being corrected by me, that they find it easier to stay away.

I hate that. I struggle with being a people-pleaser, and I want people to like me.

I want people to know that I care abut them and to see kindness within me. But the journey I am on is teaching me that I can be kind and still be fierce.

I can see all people with value and still demand that my own be treated with worth.

I can be respectful and require respect.

I truly believe that my mama bear gut and growl are gifts God has given me to defend the cause of those who cannot always defend themselves.

There are days that I am not sure I am strong enough to be Mama Bear—and those are the days when God whispers to me: “I will always, always fight for you.”


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