One Saturday my husband and I were watching Nat Geo Wild. What tore at my heart was watching a hippo calf injured in a fight between two adult males and knowing that he was going to die. Tears came to my eyes as his mother went over to him and nuzzled him before he sank down to the ground and died. It was as if she were saying goodbye to him. She had to watch the crocodiles and lions contend over his body before devouring it. It was her only offspring and it would be a year before she bred again. There was another scene of a zebra calf and his mother as they were crossing the water infested in with hungry crocodiles. The calf was taken down by three crocodiles and torn to pieces while his mother and the other zebras watched. How heartbreaking.
I am thankful that I am not a mother who has to hunt for food and go through days of hunger because I couldn’t catch anything like the cheetah or a mother crocodile who has to fend off predators like the eagle or the jackal from her vulnerable young. However, this does not mean that it isn’t tough being a mother.
From the moment our children are born, we guard them fiercely, yearning to keep them safe all of their lives, not wanting to expose them to the world in which we live. Just as the animals in the wild have to struggle everyday to survive, we have to make ends meet so that we can provide for our young and give them a good life. We have to protect them from the predators out there as best as we could. We have to teach them to be smart and careful when it comes to strangers or even people they know.
We live in a society where there are predators who won’t think twice about harming an innocent child. They don’t look like the fearsome crocodile or the intimidating lion. In fact they come across as harmless. They disarm their victims and then they move in for the kill. When I receive emails from Dreamcatchers for Abused Children, I shudder and cannot bring myself to read them because the stories are horrific. However, it is comforting to know that many of the abusers are brought to justice.
As parents we have to do what we can for our children and hope that everything will turn out well for them. We cannot protect them forever but we can prepare them for life. Don’t be discouraged. Just keep on caring for and teaching them. The best thing you can be for your child–is a parent. Don’t be their friends.