Channel your own Mama Bear


    European Brown Bear (Ursus arctos arctos) adult female and two cubs, in boreal forest, Finland, June

    Years ago, I knew something was wrong with my heart. My doctor continually told me I was fine. After two years she finally tested me, and months later I had surgery! I knew something was off, but I let her convince me otherwise, without even running a simple test.

    Conversely, my son was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that was getting worse by the day. A doctor friend researched it and told me how to treat it. His pediatrician dragged her feet and days later I had a new pediatrician and the prescription in hand.

    All moms are vocal advocates for their kids, but when it comes to acting on our own behalf, we don’t tend to have the same conviction. That has always been true for me, especially when it comes to doctors. I sit quietly and nod and assume they’re right even when I’m pretty sure whatever I have is fatal (kidding…kind of). But my experience with my son’s diagnosis changed that behavior.

    I learned that doctors are human, and they don’t always have the answers. But I also learned that it’s ok to change doctors if they don’t make every effort to find the answers. Until I got the right people in place to help my son, I was on my own to research and demand specific tests and therapies. Luckily, my fear for him overtook any apprehension I had about bossing doctors around.

    Another thing that helped me was to wear a “uniform”. Everyday, I changed out of my jeans, t-shirt and flip-flops and into skirts, blouses and heels. I applied makeup and found that foundation felt like armor and eye makeup prevented me from crying while advocating for my son. Sounds dumb, but it worked.

    Since that time, I have a much easier time standing up for myself in uncomfortable situations. I still don’t channel my mama bear for myself as easily as I do for my kids, but I’ve come a long way. I worry less about being polite and more about having straightforward conversations about what I need. Mama bears are designed to protect and who doesn’t need a little back up sometimes?



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    Within months of graduating from Cal, Erin met her husband Rick and for the last 14 years has been raising a family in San Francisco. Their two sons love the city as much as they do and are proud to call themselves natives. Erin works as a freelance writer and editor but also enjoys the freedom that comes with blogging. She was the SF Frugal Family contributor for a few years back, and if you are looking for creative ideas for getting out around town, you can still find her work at In her free time, Erin loves to read, cheer on the Giants, try new restaurants and practice yoga.


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