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My Parenting Spirit Animals

Photograph by Getty Images

It is believed in many cultures that we all have a spirit animal with whom we have a kinship, whose traits we strive to achieve and, if internalized, would serve us well in our lives.

I love the idea of having a totem, of incorporating animal traits into my life. But, I’m pretty sure now, as a parent, I need more than one totem that my life calls upon. I need more than one spirit animal. Because parenting life is hectic, I’m pretty sure I need a whole woodland army to keep my shit in check. Here are the spirit animals I am calling upon in my life as a parent.

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Although they look big and dopey, kangaroos are powerful creatures symbolizing protection, stamina and balance. Those qualities are fantastic and all, but I’m focusing on the part where they have that have built-in Baby Bjorn. Dude.


Cats lick their young to give them a bath. That would come in handy. Also, they are mysterious, and my husband would appreciate that.


Of course, I want to align myself with the magnificent lion. I’m the queen of the jungle. The lion is a symbol of power, honor, royalty, strength and leadership. You can’t ask for better qualities than that. The lion also symbolizes ferocity, dominion and authority. So basically, whatever I say goes, biatches. ROOOWWWRRR.


They are just really thin and graceful, so let’s throw that into the mix.

As I think any mom would agree, an extra six arms would really come in handy.


This is obvious. Every once in a while it would be cool to blend in with the couch or potted plants; to have silk-ficus-tree-camouflage, so I can hide from my family when I just need a damn break.


Nocturnal. Duh.


Bears are warriors known to defend their domain, particularly in the realm of motherhood. Where else did we get the term “mama bear” from? In life, but especially as a parent, I want to be a warrior and protect my children, real badass-like. Bears are also hunters, as in good at hunting food, but in my case, it’s more like “I will hunt your ass down if you wrong my family.” And also, there’s that hibernation thing. Sleeping through the winter?! AMAZING!


This spirit animal was my frenemy for my son’s and daughter’s first year of life. It’s a spiritual symbol of fertility, nourishment and abundance. Some days I was spilling forth so much “abundance” that my little calves were swimming in it. Others, I was putting lanolin and cabbage on my udders, feeling big as, well, a cow. In Buddhism, the cow is a symbol of patience and holiness. And, man, does parenting take patience . . . and also a high pain tolerance when building up those nursing nipple callouses.


Beavers are industrious. Symbols of motion and diligence. They are hard-working and known for their building skills. This would help out a lot with school projects.


As I think any mom would agree, an extra six arms would really come in handy. And moms may also identify with that “inking” thing that happens when muscles get weak after childbirth.


Everyone loves dolphins. It helps in parenting to be fun-loving and cute, but also, dolphins’ brains lack olfactory lobes so it is believed that they have no sense of smell. There are some gnarly smells involved in parenting. I’d definitely call on that no sense of smell every third diaper and after my son’s rugby games.


How great would it be to spray your kid as an extra deterrent method the next time he got grounded?


The symbolism of a giraffe with its long neck is that of going the distance. It’s about us sticking our necks out for our families. I like that. And that surprisingly graceful giraffe towers over its kids, able to see every move those little rascals make while also getting a bite to eat off of a tall tree. I like that even more.

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So, as I align myself with the vast and wondrous qualities which these animals possess, I feel one with nature and an appreciation for the way all life in this world is connected. But then I’m secretly glad to be a human because we have cars and iPhones and stuff. Even still, it’s cool to get spiritual, because parenting, as it is a part of life, is a spiritual journey. Or is it that it’s a trip. Either way, I’m proud to be a mama bear.

Image via Getty

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