We all have to fight our own battles. And when it’s something that basically only affects me, I can take some comfort from the feeling that to a certain extent I have some control. I can choose my weapons, I can plan my strategy and tactics – and even if events actually are beyond my control, I feel less helpless simply by virtue of being occupied with my planning.
When the battle is not mine, but that of a loved one, and things really are completely out of my hands so that I feel powerless to do anything but cheer from the sidelines, it is much harder. When the loved one is my child or the child of my child, that atavistic “mother tigress” instinct kicks in: I want to sink my fangs into whoever is threatening my cub, and tear that menace to pieces. I feel the angry growls rising from my gut, my claws sharpening, my head goes down ready to charge, to seize that prey by the throat and choke the life out of it. I want to tuck my cub away safely in the depths of the den, out of harm’s way, behind my broad protective back.
The fact that my cub has meanwhile reached adulthood – if not maturity – is irrelevant. The human maternal instinct is never quenched. The fact that my adult cub has chosen to put herself into jeopardy and, ruled by her own desires and choices, now finds herself in a tight corner, detracts in no way from my urge to rush to her defence.
The fact that she is blind to her peril, resents any intervention by me, that she refuses my interference and mistakes my snarls as directed at her, has no impact on my instincts. In spite of all my fears, anxieties, attacks and sallies on her behalf, I cannot rescue her. I can only be there to pick up the dead and wounded from the battlefield, and offer what I have as solace and balm.
What it brings home to me is that, however much we want to be Captain of our Destiny and Master of our Fate, we are as incapable of controlling the tides of fortune as King Canute was of making the sea obey him. When my child is in danger, I can lift up my eyes to the hills, but my help comes from the Lord. I pray that He will bring her through this battle wiser and unscathed.