Do you know Mother Bear?

If you don’t, Mother Bear is the ultimate Mom. She is the mother in the Berenstain Bears family.

In our family, we absolutely love Berenstain Bears family in their little tree house in Bear Country. They have an answer for almost every problem you encounter with parenting until your kids reach 8 or 9 years old.

Mother Bear is how I wish I could ever be, knowing that I will never be. She is always composed, always patient, always available. Even when she is about to lose it, in “The Berenstain Bears and the trouble with Chores” for example, she does not, and she welcomes Papa Bear’s ideas even if cleaning up is certainly not his skill, nor his duty.

We love these books because they convey good values in a simple fashion, which we find harder and harder to do.

At the same time though, I can’t help being irritated, not half as much though, as I was with Olivia when Olivia’s mom, on demand, MAKES a soccer shirt to Olivia’s likings. Come on! Is there any mother out there who does that? Doesn’t she have anything else to do?

Well, Olivia’s mom is the mother you wish to have, but she is not the mother you can be unless you live in the middle of the countryside with no internet connection, no TV and your first neighbor is fifty miles away.

So we stopped reading Olivia fairly soon, not only because it was triggering my own insecurity as a mother, but also because my children lost very quickly all interests in these books.

Mother Bear is much more effective in questioning my parenting abilities, because she is credible…to an extent.

Brother Bear and Sister Bear challenge her the way we, mothers, are challenged. And it is fascinating to me to see how she responds when I would simply yell at my children. Take the “Get the Gimmies” for example: she finishes getting her groceries and paying for them with screaming children around her. She is annoyed but she does not beep.

Well, I don’t know if it has anything to do with the fact that I have been traveling with my kids so many times on long flights with jet lag and tutti quanti, but I have never tolerated any screaming in public places. I have always had an acute sense that other people do not care about my parenting issues. They probably had their own; and they deserve to have a peaceful flight, especially when it is a 12h flight.

The “kids are kids” saying has never been an excuse in our family. If kids can’t behave in public, then keep them home! Since that was not an option being expatriates, my kids had to behave. And they did, and they still are behaving in public. Unfortunately it is only in public… they make up for it at home!

I learned very quickly how to make sure a baby, even newborn, stays calm all throughout a long trip.

Mother Bear ‘s goal is always to teach a lesson without traumatizing her children. Don’t we all love that?

The problem is that, at least for me,  I do not have the time nor the energy to do that 12 to 14 hours a day, for three kids.

You may think that I am exaggerating: kids don’t always misbehave, so the 14 hour period is unfair, and when kids are in school, it drops to 8 hours.

First, if it is true that they don’t always misbehave, when you have three, there is always one who needs your intervention.

Second, don’t forget that there is a really long period before they are old enough to go to school, and then, morning hours and evening hours count double.

Last night we read “The Berenstain Bears and Baby Makes Five”. I truly wish sibling jealousy between #2 and #3 was dealt with, by watching a video of #2 when #2 was a baby; but we all know that reality is quite different and that it takes much more to tackle the anxiety of #2 when #3 arrives.

Anyway all this makes feel better because I am sure I would be a much better mother in a much simpler world. Just the fact that Bear family does not wear any shoes makes it so much simpler!

My only big problem with the Berenstain Bears is that the couple Papa and Mama has no life besides parenting their cubs. Well it is a children book so I guess that it is based on children’s perspective. But it is about time that children books teach kids that there is a life outside of them. Most children books have an outdated view on couples and parenting. They are based on the assumption that once the couple is formed, all the attention should be placed on the children. That was probably the case in the 50s, but now it is not because a couple has been formed that it will stay together. Showing the children book after book an archaic view of a couple parent is distorting the truth. And soon they are introduced to the book that present a loving picture of a couple divorcing, and then presenting books showing how wonderful it is to have step sisters, brothers, two houses etc…

Couldn’t we update these books so they teach kids that their parents are individual beings with needs too?

When I look at Mother Bear and Papa Bear, I really wonder what kind of love life they have.

Mother Bear is not the ultimate sexy wife, and Papa Bear is not Prince Charming. We are in a bear world so the authors probably stick to animal kingdom rules where sex is only linked to reproduction. Since they are mimicking human lives though we could expect a bit more spark, glint or whatever you want to call it between the two.

If sex is a private thing that should remain private from everyone including the children, sex brings intimacy that shows outside the bedroom.

Seeing their parents loving one another has never hurt any children. On the contrary, not only it is the best way to teach them how to love someone else, but it also gives them this secure base they can grow from.

My last words will be for the authors Jan and Stan Berenstains who are definitely not bears…

Dear Jan and Stan,

Your books are wonderful but please bring a bit more glamour in Bear Country. Parents need that support to keep their couple healthy.

With love