By Zerline Hughes
So yeah, I’ve been called an overreactor (see Urban Dictionary definition). It was a guy that I was dating about six or seven years ago. I was somewhat offended, but after a few seconds, realized, yes … I am an overreactor. I accept it.
And so today was yet another day in the life of the overreactor – this time, instead of Overreactor Girlfriend, I was Overreactor Mom.
So, on to what had happened: I couldn’t get in touch with my son for about two hours this evening. I texted about 10 messages: “where are you,” “meet me here,” “do you understand my instructions?” “what’s your next move?” and “hello?”
I was trying to meet up with my son, 12, after his Karate class. I originally told him to take the Metro train when I dropped him off. I decided, however, to change the plan and have him meet me at the train station so he could accompany me for the rest of my evening errands.
Radio silence. Voice mail. No communication.
So, I figured his battery was low, he was underground, or he lost his phone, and within an hour, he’d be home and I’d hear his voice explain it all in little detail.
But then, Overreactor Mom appeared. Instead of my sound reasoning of him simply being underground with no satellite connection, I figured he was being questioned by police. My thoughts of him having left the phone at the Karate dojo turned into someone having accosted him and running off with his old iPhone. And then I remembered he left his wallet at home with his school ID, and I decided the cops arrested him for not having identification, and didn’t believe my 170 lb, 5’5” son wasn’t, in fact, just 12.
Trayvon, Michael and Freddie have me overreacting. Actually, it’s the police, our criminal justice system, our public safety inequities that our Black boys and men face daily that have me scared stiff, overreacting – or maybe acting appropriately. These young Black men left their homes and never came back. Moms, families to never see their smiling faces again. Never to nag them again. Never to overreact about their sons’ decisions again. And that’s where my head went. And in these days, I’d say that was a pretty normal (over) reaction.
So there I was tonight, wanting, for a good two hours, to blame myself for letting my son be independent, and get himself home from an after school activity.
I had the boyfriend calling Sprint to track down the location of the phone, I had the girl trying to find him with the FindMyIphone app, and I was stuck on a lagging Metro train myself, trying to keep calm and tell myself the boy was just fine. “There’s a fine explanation for all this,” I tried to remind myself. But my overreactor kept reacting.
Of course, everything was, in fact, just fine. It turned out he left his cell phone in my car – which was parked at the Metro station near our home. And the Metro ride from Karate to our house is extra long – especially after rush hour. Duh … I was on the slow train myself. He was just fine. No cops. No robbery. No interrogation. Phew.
But do you think this is the last time I’ll have a scare? How did the mothers of Trayvon, Michael, and Freddie react when their sons didn’t come home, when their phone rang with the horrible news of their sons’ violent demise?
Mother’s Day is such a wonderful day to celebrate being a nurturer, caretaker and provider. But understand: it’s no easy chore. It’s also a day to recognize our toiling, worrying and overreacting. Day in and day out. (I see you, Toya Graham.)
Here’s to my first real scare as a mother of independent kids. Happy Mother’s Day. Ugh.