Fourteen years old;
Surly and sweet
Tough and tender.
Cocky and yet so unsure he brandishes bravado
Like a matador staring down a bull
In hopes the bull will buy his act and flinch first.
Mostly, I am bemused and tolerant
But today he was mean to me.
So I chased him around the yard with a hoe.
He had mouthed off;
Spewed barbed nastiness
Using the vocabulary I had taught him.
He’s been hitting the testosterone pretty hard these days.
It seems to cause deafness, blindness, meanness, and general stupidity
My voice is only audible to him when I roar
And am amplified with gardening tools
Or threats of social curtailment.
And I roared, “NO! Dammit” He had crossed the line.
And I shook the hoe in the air and dashed its biting edge into the lawn.
And stared him down.
Mamma does not flinch. Not here. Not now.
The surprise on his face was comical
He had touched a boundary that was electrified and was
Shocked to have found the limit of my patience.
I don’t know why. It’s been clearly marked for quite some time now.
Running after him was pointless, of course.
He moved easily. Like a panther, out of my reach
Out of range.
But he heard me, dumbfounded and stunned as he was.
I had gotten through.
It was enough.
I walked away and put my Mother’s Rage
Back in my pocket and plucked the weeds from my pansies
To hide my hurt and regain composure.
This is not who I am – this is not who he is.
We have known each other since the tiny cells of his heart began to beat
Deep in the womb.
I breathed in a prayer for us both to survive
The teenage years of bull-headedness and breaking free;
The parenting years of expansion and letting go;
That there would be few regrets and enough love
To anesthetize the pain of growing up.
My fourteen-year-old man-cub
Came around with wariness in his eyes
And regret weighing down that proud neck. Would I forgive him?
Yes. Mothers do.
We do not break our young men on the rack of our pride.
“I’m sorry, Mom.”
“Me, too, baby. Me, too.”