Without a doubt, my mother, Starr, had many faults. Among other things, she was an irresponsible, moody drug addict. But, she was often my biggest supporter and champion. And, on the day of my one and only fist fight, she was my biggest hero.
My fight started, as I suspect many eight-year old’s fights have, over The K-I-S-S-I-N-G Song. I was walking to my apartment complex’s basketball court with Aaron, easily the cutest boy in my third grade class, when my neighbor and nemesis, Missy, sauntered out of her apartment and blasted out a litany of sing-song-y taunts, "Sosha, is that your boooy-friend? Do you loooovvvvvve him?" I pivoted around and furiously spat out, "Shut your stupid face, Missy, before I shut it for you!"
I prayed that Missy would do as I asked because I had never shut anyone’s face, stupid or otherwise, and I was unsure of how to go about it. However, Missy didn’t shut up. Oh no, she started singing that insipid song. And then after she finished, she pushed me, I stumbled and I skinned my knee. Without an iota of thought, I threw my basketball at her. It smacked her square in the back of the head causing her to lurch forward. While she was stunned and off balance, I pushed her and she slid across the sidewalk. I then straddled her and pummeled her face and shoulders like Ralphie from A Christmas Story.
Soon the chant of "fight, fight, fight" rang out as other kids gathered around us. I was shocked when I realized that I was the one in the fight, but before I had time to process exactly what I was doing, Missy’s mother, Terry, who was always hanging out her window so that she could mind everyone else’s business, pushed her way through the crowd and separated us.
Terry, a small but wiry woman with a tight perm and bad dye job, grabbed me by the elbow and forcefully shoved me into her apartment. She gently placed a sobbing Missy on the couch and propped a pillow under her head. She pointed at the kitchen and told me to wait on her until she made sure her "sweet baby" was ok.
I stood quietly in the kitchen staring at my scuffed high tops. I knew that my mother would kill me when she found out that I had been fighting in the middle of the street, but as Terry pointed at me with her lit cigarette I desperately wanted her.
Missy was still making a noisy commotion from the living room. Terry sighed and told me that her nerves were completely shot and that she should spank me herself. I backed up against the wall and started crying.
Then I heard the sweetest sound of my young life. My mom busted through Terry’s door and she brought hell with her. Her blonde hair was standing on end and her bright blue eyes were ablaze. I didn’t care if she was going to kill me later, I could tell that she was going to do a warm up on Terry. She put a hand on my shoulder and I melted into the safety of her hip. With her other hand, she put her index finger about a centimeter from Terry’s face and told her that if she ever laid a hand on me that it would be the very last thing she did.
My mom and I definitely didn’t have a traditional relationship. She made a lot of mistakes, but there was never any doubt that she loved me. Maybe not more so than the day of my only fight.
She died seven years ago and despite all the hard times we had together, I miss her every day. So, on Mother’s Day, I will remember my beautiful, troubled, protective mother who once promised to kill another woman where she stood if she as much as looked at me wrong.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mama.
Sosha Lewis is a former button downed corporate executive turned running shorts and t-shirts wearing stay-at-home mom. She and her husband, Tony are the happy, albeit tired, parents to a talkative, energetic, extroverted daughter, Conley. Want to hear more from Sosha? Sign up for the MomsCharlotte.com 1-Minute Newsletter and she’ll visit your inbox each week with great stories and info - just for moms!