The Universal Need to Protect

This morning, I read a story about a mom who shot a carjacker in the head as he tried to drive away in her SUV with her two kids in the back. And my first thought was, Hell yeah lady! And my next thought was, what mother wouldn’t do this if faced with this situation? There is some universal, inherent gene in all of us that kicks in as soon as we become parents. Whether you gave birth to your child, adopted, used a surrogate, whatever … the second someone hands that tiny person to you and you look at that little face, there’s a switch in your head that flips and you realize you would literally die for this person if you had to. The need to protect them at all costs is overwhelming.

The interesting thing about this, to me, is that it applies to all parents (barring any mental illness). It applies to “traditional” families with a married mom and dad where Mom grows a child in her body and gives birth. It applies to adoptive families who willingly accept a child as their own. It applies to lesbians, gay couples, single parents just trying to make it … it happens to us all. What is that? I used to think it was biological.

Years ago, when I was in high school, I dated someone who’s cousin had married a woman, had a child with her, and then couldn’t have a second child. So they adopted. And I remember that mom telling me, “The feeling I had when my first one was handed to me was the exact same as the feeling I had when the second one was handed to me. There was no difference.”

Being a teenager, I had no idea just how big and true that statement was. It wasn’t until later that I fully appreciated it. That feeling hits us all when we become parents. And its tough to put into words. But if you’re reading this, you can probably relate to what I am saying. There was a time in our lives when we would really have to make a decision of whether or not to jump into a fire and risk our lives to save someone. Then we become parents, and that decision no longer happens. You know you’d just do it, without question and without hesitation. You’d do it for your babies.

For me, this is one of the biggest, most transformative changes that takes place when someone becomes a parent. The need to protect them from harm is so universal to us all, all around the world. What a bond.

And to the mom who shot the carjacker, kudos to you. You did it. You saved your babies no matter what.

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