Gustafson: Can’t bear witness to this |

Gustafson: Can’t bear witness to this

Britta Gustafson
Then Again

The mother bear is often considered the quintessential example of a mother’s love. In the valley, particularly during bear season, we know there is no where more dangerous to place ourselves than between a mama bear and her cubs. With many recent sightings of a mother moose and her twins on my street in Snowmass Village, my concerns for the safety of my own offspring have my mama radar on high alert. But with knowledge and understanding of the power of a mother’s love, I can fear and empathize with the mama moose and mama bears.

Wildlife experts explain the power of maternal nature and how, if provoked, that loving passion can ignite a fiercely protective instinct.

I can relate.

It seems that of all the forces on this planet, it is hard to beat a mother’s love. If you watch closely you can see it on the playground, at the pool or on the soccer field. Moms may at times seem flighty or distracted, because once that child comes into our lives we suddenly have a piece of our heart running around outside of ourselves. We can’t help but remind our kids to stay safe, wear helmets or gloves. It may seem ridiculous how we gob on sunscreen or schlep around loads of snacks and gallons of water, but that’s our protective animal nature at work. We are always watching from the periphery and half-thinking about our children 100 percent of the time.

That is just the beginning of all that we would endure to protect and care for our children. If put to the test, we would trek through deserts and jungles, forge rivers, starve, suffer and struggle to give our children a safe and happy life.

Yes it’s true, anyone who finds themselves forcibly coming between a mother and her child can actually bear witness to just how deeply ingrained that protective instinct still is, even in our technologically superior species.

Last night marked the deadline to return the children who were torn from their parents arms at the borders of our country; yet less than half have been reunited and now more than 700 kids are supposedly no longer eligible to be returned to their families? This certainly seems like a human rights violation, the type that I studied in school with outrage, and now it has happened in our country. Destroying one of the most sacred bonds on earth, the one between mother and child, our leaders seem far more concerned with the optics than the actual act.

As a mother, I would endure anything, give everything and sacrifice myself for my children. I’m not alone; ask any dedicated mom what she would be willing to give for her child, and without hesitation she will tell you: “Everything.”

The idea of having my children forcibly taken from me causes such a visceral reaction that I feel sickened and numbed. I’ve watched in horror, and haven’t felt the same since we, as a nation, became aware of this act of unspeakable torture happening in plain sight at the hands of our own government.

Say what you like about adultery, collusion, racism or division, there is nothing like taking children away from their mothers. If there was ever a line not to be crossed, even if your bank account is happy, even if your political values are being upheld, this should be that line. This is not who we are.

It’s an inhumane form of torture — gouge out my eyes, strip away my flesh; I would do or give or suffer anything for my kids. Like a mother octopus who would eat her own limbs before leaving her babies exposed, or the orangutan who never puts her babies down, ferociously fending off predators with one arm while protecting her baby with the other for the first six years of their lives, it’s instinct. It is a deeper love than words can relate. As a mom, I feel broken watching this travesty on the nightly news. I can hardly believe this is my country.

The bear will attack, the moose will charge — the need to keep the offspring safe, to love and protect our babies is as ingrained in our DNA as it is in the wild. It’s been said that a mother’s heart is always with her children, the mother-child bond is a love that is endless and enduring made of deep devotion and of sacrifice that goes beyond the powers of reason and is rooted in instinct.

Moms of this country: I hope you have empathy. Consider yourself in that scenario — could you ever imagine anyone deserving of that level of torture? I hope when we vote, we do it with the courage of a mama bear, and with the heart, conscience and conviction of a loving mother.

Let’s exchange a piece of my mind for a little peace of mind; after all, if we always agree what will we talk about? Britta Gustafson appreciates an open mind; share yours and email her at