Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sea Otter Moms

I have been reading the book "Tiger Mom." If you haven't heard a reference to that, it is about a mom that expects excellence in her daughters..pushing them very hard to excel in playing instruments, sports, school, etc. The "tiger" parenting style is all about pushing your children
to be the very best, with no room for error and no free time to just be a kid.
A mom of a special need child cannot relate.

For me, I had expectations of what my child would be. He would be intelligent (I skipped a grade and school came easy for me and my husband is highly intelligent,) musical and athletic. We would expect a lot from him and he would not disappoint. Instead he was delayed in every way, walking, talking, reading, running, with multiple disabilities. He was nothing like I expected. If he had been, I could have been in danger of being one of those "tigers."

Instead I became, the sea otter mom.

Sea Otters are known to be some of the most caring, loving and securely attached moms in nature. While Tigers have several cubs at a time, and take them hunting, Sea Otters have one cub. They provide round-the-clock care. When the mom goes looking for food, the baby otter cries until she returns. If the baby happens to die, the mom holds it for days, unwilling to let go.

When Ryan was a baby, he needed
to be held a lot. Kids with Autism or sensory issues especially need contact.
He had many fears and was so clingy, he needed to know that comfort was never far away. He needed a mom that could circumvent triggers that caused tantrums. He needed a mom that understood him even when he was unable to talk. He needed a mom that understood that when he cried for her,
it was not selfishness, but self preservation. He needed a sea-otter mom.

To think of myself as that tiger mom, pushing and pushing, scares me. It could have been me, but we were gifted with a special need child. So we parent and protect and persevere, hold and nurture, advocate and adapt. Ryan is now 12, and still needs many of those things.

So my message is: Sea-otter moms out there-- know how important you are, and how the universe deemed you strong enough for the task.

Blessings as you carefully parent the child entrusted to you.


  1. Oh my, that was so heart warming to read! While I don't have the same kinds of struggles with my oldest son, he is a high anxiety child that needs a lot more nurturing than perhaps his younger brother does. He needs a mama who reassures him over and over (and over) again that he will not be late for 2nd grade and if he is it is my responsibility, not his. He needs a mama who will quell constant worries and fears that don't seem to plague his brother. The otter mom comparison is a beautiful way to put it - and I thank you for sharing your experiences.


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