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Second Son’s graduation has me thinking about how I show up as a mom. I tell you, it’s not how I thought I would back before I was one.

When I became a mother, something inside me changed. Something went a little left. It’s like a secret code was activated and now inside me lives a fierce warrior. When pushed, she pushes back. Hard.

What good is being a warrior when there is no war?

Oh, but there IS a war raging. Ask any parent who’s ever tried to get a child birthed, raised and out on his or her own in one piece, capable and ready to take on the world for themselves. It’s battle after battle getting a child to adulthood…some internal, some between you and the child, and some between you and the world.

I screw up left, right and center, all day long and half the night as a mother. If I got started trying to list all the ways I’ve failed my children, I’d be sitting here still typing this time next week, at least. But that has nothing to do with me being (and recognizing) the fierce, warrior mom that I am. I fight for them much more than I fight with them.

When I look back over the last 6 years or so, my experience of mothering Second Son is vastly different than my experience mothering Oldest Son from 12 to 18. Where Second Son has been willing to listen, to consider maybe, just maybe, I had some valuable insight to offer, Oldest Son knew every damn thing already and gave me zero air time. Where Second Son allowed me to not only know what was up with him (only after extensive inquisition – he wouldn’t say shit if he had a mouthful), but to advocate for him when necessary, Oldest Son stonewalled me at every turn.

I’ve long maintained that somewhere between the 11th and 12th birthday, boys just lose their natural minds. I’d say it was the onset of puberty, and maybe that’s exactly what it is, but hell – I’m a girl, the first of 4 in my family – what the hell do I know about the onset of puberty in boys? Not a damn lot, even now, I assure you.

Don’t think for a minute Second Son didn’t lose his mind back then – he did. But how it has shown up has been drastically different. As the second child, and no doubt helped by the fact that the older sibling is a full 6 years older, Second Son had (and capitalized on) ample opportunities to watch his older brother and decide, “Uh yeah… that doesn’t look like it turned out all that well…I think I’ll take another path when I get there.”

And take another path, he did. Jesus Lord.

Maybe the underlying difference has been the fact that Oldest Son has me, his father and his stepmother all chiming in with parental wisdom, while Second Son just has me. Maybe having a plethora of parents gave Oldest Son room to flagrantly discount us all, whereas Second Son figured he better not shit where he eats. I don’t know. What I do know is that being summarily dismissed by Oldest Son made me redouble my efforts at “righting my parenting wrongs” with Second Son. In short, the warrior mom heard nothing but the battle cry and went a little left herself.

None of this bodes well for PDD. She just turned 12 last month, and I already see the signs of her natural mind going out the same window her brothers’ did. But she’s a girl, and I delude myself into thinking I know what I’m in for with her. Having been a teenage girl eons ago, myself, I entertain the delusion that I am prepared. But the warrior mom inside knows better. She thinks because I think I know more, I am now accountable to do more.

Given the fact that PDD is saddled with the feckless father, I’m afraid the warrior mom is right. Something tells me I will be grateful for every minute of the last 12 years of preparation her brothers have provided.

Pray. For. Me.