Maclin knew this day would come. As far back as their stories could be traced, this had been the way of things. When a cub reached puberty, they left their mother’s protection and went far into the woods towards the sea. Staying away until they had completed their entire first cycle—alone. It was required.
As members of the kit, Maclin and her sister Bonnie understood. They had done it themselves. But as a mother, Maclin felt conflicted. She wondered if Bonnie was struggling as well. She couldn’t tell. Her quiet stare gave off no clues. But she had to be. At least a little bit. Their girls, Sara and Bailey, had been born only a week apart and they had always been inseparable. A constant tangle of red and white. Now they had to separate. Go into the woods by themselves. And transform. Alone.
It was supposed to be a mother’s proudest moment. Sending your baby off so they could become their true selves. No longer a cub. Changed. But Maclin felt only fear. Long tentacles of fear strangling the breathe out her. What if Sara failed? What if someone saw her? What if it snowed? She’d be like a flashing red light against all that white. She could be shot. Or worse. Taken.
NO! She couldn’t let that happen. She could turn tail. Run. Sara would follow. They’d find a safe place. She could guide her through the change. They’d make a life. But just as the panic threatened to overcome, she felt the heat of her daughter’s eyes on her back. They were barely visible but she could still see that they were full of apprehension. Maclin’s mind flooded with shame and she shook off her ridiculous notion of running away.
Her baby’s first transformation was not going to be marred by her mother’s neediness. Sara would never know she could survive if she didn’t go alone. And she’d never know the true power and love of the kit if they ran. And although fear still gripped her heart, Maclin felt pride swell through her as well. This was their way. And she was not going to be one of those helicopter parents. Sara WOULD make it on her own!
With that thought, Maclin realized the time had come. She gave Sara one last lick before she sat her down. Then she watched with pride as her daughter walked towards the woods alone. The fear wasn’t gone but Maclin held her tail high, even managing a bit of a wag as she envisioned Sara’s return from the sea shore. Transformed. She just hoped her coat would be as beautifully red as her hair.