Late Saturday night my mama bear emerged. We had just finished a glorious day and evening at a folk festival, returning home far after bedtime with two tired children in arms. While waiting for the shuttle a drunk woman arrived, muttering and stumbling about. Out came the car keys for her car, strangely parked just there, and I stood stunned that with over 20 bystanders, nobody was taking action.
A moment’s hesitation as she got in, and then mama bear arrived. Stepping boldly forward (I’ve always wanted to step boldly forward, sounds so heroine-esque!), I blocked her from closing the door and calmly told her I didn’t feel it was safe for her to drive, asking her to please give me the keys. And so began my first girl fight.
Seriously, my first fight ever. Age 42 and I had never ever been physically attacked, had to defend myself or wrestle another human being down. Yes, this is the charmed (and very sober!) life I’ve led… She thrashed, screamed profanities, and proceeded to bite down hard on my arm as I struggled to get the key away from her as she started the ignition. I knew in that moment that I had no other choice – I simply couldn’t let go. I could not, as a mother, as a fellow human being, allow this woman to drive away.
At this point my hero of a husband jumped into the car, trying to keep her from driving away, ignition still on…Finally others stepped in as well – sitting in the back seat of the car with the doors open, running to get security for assistance. Me reaching in repeatedly trying to get that damned key out of the ignition as she tried to break my fingers & bit me again.
Ultimately security arrived and were able to take over for us, as we gathered our terrified children and jumped on the waiting shuttle bus. No sleep that night, and another two days since full of thoughts about this 5 minute window in my life, and our children’s lives.
They saw it all – they saw both their parents step forward and take responsibility, and they saw both their parents being beaten by a woman who was too drunk to listen. They’re old enough to remember this one (7&9). I feel tremendous guilt for not having been able to care for them, leaving them to watch without being able to preserve their innocence. We simply had no choice. I pray to god that the memory we carry is of their parents doing the right thing, of their mother caring for them by caring enough to step forward.
The deep bruising and tooth marks remain on my arm as a reminder. I have a new understanding of the importance of groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and a new appreciation for the power of mama bear.
Gratitude for our safety, and one less drunk driver on the roads of our community.
Want to read more? Here are my husband Rick’s blog musings on our experience – http://ricksturningpoint.blogspot.com/2011/07/how-to-stop-drunk-driver.html
About Sarah Juliusson
Sarah Juliusson, founder of Mama Renew, is a gifted facilitator and writer on the journey of birth & motherhood. She brings two decades of experience supporting families through pregnancy, birth and motherhood to her work. Sarah is mother to two growing boys, a playful crafter with cloth & wool, student of traditional food preservation, and a diva at heart. Join the conversation on http://www.mamarenew.ca & on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/mamarenew