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Mothering › Child Articles › Meeting my Mama Bear

Meeting my Mama Bear

By Sarah Juliusson of www.MamaRenew.ca – Find Mama Renew on Facebook.

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.


Mama Bear Sarah

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



Mama Renew

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

Comments (25)

Amazing story! I am very proud of the courage you showed your children! Many blessings!
you did the right thing. sometimes the universe provides ourselves to protect strangers (and other strangers that are on the roads that night) including your own tribe of cubs. i say thank you because the woman never will. thank you for setting an example for everyone there and your kids. it will all come out in the wash and your children will remember your bravery and will be proud of you.
Thank you very much for having the courage to step forward. We need more people in society willing to step forward like you did!
You rock! Hope the bites didn't break the skin.
GAINESVILE, Fla. (KTLA) -- The former president of a Gainesville, Fla. chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, is facing DUI charges, according to the Gainesville Sun. 48-year-old Debra Oberlin was pulled over last week after officers reportedly spotted her driving erratically. She blew a .234 and a .239 on a pair of breathalyzer tests, the Sun reports, well over Florida's .08 legal limit. Oberlin apparently told officers she'd had four beers. Oberlin has not commented. She was the president of Gainesville's MADD chapter for three years. The chapter closed in 1996 due to a lack of funds. I'm not a fan of organizations (MADD, in this case) that talk the talk. You, my friend, are a hero because you walked the walk. That's the message you sent your kids. We don't know whose life you saved that night, so I'll just say thank you.
Thank you thank you thank you! I hope I would have the courage to do the same thing. This issue is one that I feel even more strongly about since having kids. I don't want their lives stolen from me, or my life from them, because of someone like this woman. You very likely saved a tragedy from happening. Your kids will remember this as they grow up, and someday they will have courage to do the right thing because of it.
Thank you for stepping forward. I am so, so glad that you were there to stop something worse from happening. Even though your children witnessed what happened, I think the benefits outweigh the negatives. They have seen first hand what it means to be an active & responsible member of society. They now have witnessed what effect alcohol can have on a person who consumes too much. There are so many more lessons, but I;m sure you know that. Again, thank you for your actions! Signed, Fellow Mama Bear in Idaho
I don't think any parent relishes the loss of their child's rose-tinted glasses; certainly, witnessing a deadly car accident caused by a fellow festival-goer or worse, the loss of a loved one to a drunk driver would prove to be more traumatic. I salute you for following through with your gut feeling, for showing your kids it's ok to do that, and for recognizing that a tribe relies on it's members. You stood up, while the rest of the tribe ignored something that is wrong.
I'm sure it was scary in the moment, but ultimately I think it's awesome for kids to see their parents STEP UP, whatever the situation. These are the kinds of things they'll probably remember when they are faced with similar situations later on in life. And maybe that woman will think twice before she tries to drive drunk again!
You may very well have saved someone else's child(ren), not just her life.
Thank you and good job!
Good for you for stepping forward. I am sorry as well that your children had to witness this but it is good to know their parents are brave and not ones to walk away. When a person is drunk, they are not themselves. They have given up their will forces/crown chakra to the alcohol "demons". It is unfortunate that so many people choose to be drugged in our society when we have so much free will and individualism. Our worlds intersect between spirits in bodies and those who have given up their spirit and body to the forces that inhabit them when we give up our true presence. I have had many mama bear moments but I try to protect myself as well. Only children I work with have ever tried to bite me so far. (I work with special needs preschoolers.)Did you try some arnica gel on those bruises? It works wonders.
Did you press charges against her for assault? Security is one thing, but after someone starts BITING, they need to spend the night in jail. I would bet 50 bucks, the drunk woman will do this again, and probably worse, if she doesn't get criminally charged. Also, please get tested for HIV all the hepatitis varieties that apply and any other bite-transmitted diseases. Consider charging her after the fact, especially if the bite marks are severe and can be documented. Even if you black out from booze, a criminal charge for biting someone can't be imagined away. and KUDOS, mega-kudos! for being an example to your children and every other child present of what a fiercely ethical person looks like :)
That was a HUGE act of love. That is how I see it, and your children will too I think. You & your husband proved that caring about others is our job,and our responsibility as human beings. Obviously she couldn't take care of herself at that point. Yay for being brave!
When I was pregnant with my oldest, The Kill Bill movies came out. I completely identified with her rage and vengence in retaliation for taking her daughter from her. Sure they are bloody and gory but there is a very strong message there. A mothers love is a fierce force to be reckoned with. You did an amazing thing, saving people who might have been victims of this lady's stupidity. Sometimes you cannot protect their innocence but you can use the opportunity as a teaching moment. That no matter how scared you are to speak up, you should. Way to go mama bear, from one of the biggest mama bears out there!
All I can say is THANK YOU!
yes, slathered in arnica ointment along with homeopathic dose!
Yeah, you did have a choice. You could have called the police. Clearly you could have gotten security if they got there so quickly What on earth were you thinking? This was terrible modeling for your children! To me this is the anti-mama bear, you chose to act in a way that traumatized your children!
Seriously?? We all have a choice... we can stand back and watch life (and in this case, something potentially fatal) happen. OR we can choose to step up just as this brave woman did. It is so easy to sit back, in the safety of our homes, with time to think about what would be the 'best' thing to do and then criticize this mother’s choice. It is quite likely that the drunk woman would have been able to drive off before either security or the police had been able to get there if someone hadn’t stopped her. I live in a city where a woman was brutally murdered in a residential neighbourhood in the middle of the night. Residents heard her pleas for help and yet no one went to help. No one even called the police. It’s time we returned to teaching our children to stand up in the defence of others. Be proud Mama Bear, your cubs won’t be likely to just walk on by if they see other kids get bullied at school.
Thanks for this perspective on the loss of innocence.
Mothering › Child Articles › Meeting my Mama Bear