Two women sit on a couch, visiting and eating their sandwiches from home-a lunch time reconnect. Within minutes, they gravitate to talking about their amazing, growing, and capable children, who they each know well, from birth. Give or take a week or two. T-ball swings, reading mastery, potty training success, and verbal acquisition -feed their longing for news and celebration. Motherhood becomes their friendship well.
Soon, their faces change, as their soft smiles give way to weathered empathy, and understanding. A large cloud will pass through the room of their parental expertise and dedication. A rueful mounting bass line hammers as each word climbs up from caves of frustration and pain like a tormented troll whose story must be told.
It is not their rage, it is not not their rage. It is their children’s rage at the world, and rage at them. It comes out in clenched fists, and thrown toys. It comes out in bared teeth, and broken skin on a sibling’s face. It threatens to run away, it hides under the bed. It yells horrible things at them, when they wrap their arms around it and rock it softly back and forth. It sobs and it kicks. It hits and it screams. It sets things on fire, and it jumps in front of moving cars. It is exploring it’s own limitless power, and it is afraid of itself. It lives so deep within their children’s skin.
It is held by these even stronger mother women, until it passes this time.
The more they talk about it, the quieter it becomes. Their friendship does not shame, blame, or need to name the origins of their children’s rage, this time. Each story they share from the trenches of their collective suffering makes them more able to imagine perhaps a future that is not held hostage to it. They find relief, and laughter in the bathroom that did not burn down when the tampon was held into the candle burning there. (It was a remarkable choice he made to get help, when the napkins started burning too.) They talk about the healing scar on the younger one’s cheek, and catching the football that was meant to knock them in the head, instead. A life time tucked into an hour, wiped away from the corners of their mouths with a cloth napkin brought from home.
Chin up one says, as they hug good bye. Chin up she replies, indeed.