We recently watched a nature program that showed herds of zebras and wildebeests crossing a swift, crocodile infested river together. The footage followed a mother and foal as they became separated. Both made it to shore but were too far apart to know where the other had landed. The camera moved between the colt that was too tired to jump up a tall embankment and his mother’s frantic search for him.
It became excruciating to watch as she swam back across the river filled with menacing crocs to search for her baby. All the while, he was being pushed aside by other frenzied animals jumping up to safety. When Mom didn’t find Junior, she plunged back into the river and fought her way to the other side for the third time!
In the meantime, Junior finally made it up the bank to the herd where he began crying for his mother. The narrator told us mothers recognize their colt’s cries, but this baby would perish if they weren’t reunited soon.
Eventually, Mom and Junior found one another, and he immediately began to nurse. All was well. The two would be inseparable until it was time for him to make it on his own.
Since watching that show, I’ve thought a lot about motherhood and the inborn impulse to protect and nurture. If you’ve ever lost track of your child or been through a crisis where your children were in a different location, you’ve shared that mother’s panic. It can make us clingy and cause difficulty when it’s time to let our children make their own way in the great big world.
I wonder if men have a better understanding of the need for that natural separation process. My husband was always the voice of reason when I was conflicted about whether to rescue or stand pat with our kids. With his help, I’ve usually been able let our children and now grandchildren struggle a little when I really wanted to jump in and rescue them. (It’s even harder with grandchildren!)
Three cheers to all you mothers who have struggled through giving your young’uns the freedom to conquer the world!
And courage to those who will face that someday!
How about you? Do you have some separation stories to share.