I think it was an hour before my wedding when I heard my mom's distinctly say, "Stop right there!" My maid of honor and I instinctively froze and then realized she wasn't talking to us. When I came back from my honeymoon, mom told me how an angry step parent tried to confront me about a corsage. Mom, who is a strapping 5'3" and maybe 120 pounds soaking wet, had thrown herself in the path of the snorting brute, determined that my day would not be ruined.
There were so many times when mom threw herself in front of me: she single-handedly cowed my elementary school principal, confronted the violent, alcoholic mother of a girl who threatened to beat me up and don't get me started on what she threatens to do to the people who post negative reviews of my books on Amazon.com.
Before I became a mom I didn't know where she had the guts to do all that. (Me? I used to run from confrontation.) But when I held my son in my arms for the first time, a surge of love and protectiveness lit through me. I knew what it felt like to love someone more than myself and why my mom seemed to possess the strength of ten angry Mexican women when someone threatened her cubs.
The greatest gift my mom has ever given me was the day she went home after my son was born. Hormones had me crying with a fear I had never known and I knew I was the worst mother ever. But she wrapped me in her arms and said, "You're such a good mother." When the best tells you that you're the best too, you feel like you can go on and do the impossible like protect your cub and battle his dragons. And you hope that when that little cub grows up into a papa or mama bear, he or she will do the same.