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Reflections of a Wrestler's Mother

Sometime along in the fall, when all the running, kicking, and tackling sport
give way to the grunt and groan athlete,
there begins a slow change for the mothers of some young men.

The previously unsatiable appetite, capable of consuming anything the kitchen brought forth,
plus half the contents of the refrigerator, now start to pick and choose and pass up seconds.
"Got to go 19, 25 is too tough."

You notice the smooth face breaks out in bruises and scrapes,
and the eyes start to get a hollow look.
There are occasional moans and groans, plus the limp which you are not to acknowledge.
The laundry begins to overflow with ripped sweatshirts, grubby t-shirts and shorts,
and someone else's socks and towels,
but there ceases to be a problem getting your son to bed at night.

A new vocabulary creeps into everyday usage.
You learn that "shoot a half" is not the same as "shoot".
A crossface has no relation to an angry look, an arm bar is good, but a double is better.
And a cradle is not what you put a small child into.
Terms like "fireman" and "wizzer" become commonplace.

Hours are spent on hard, wooden bleachers waiting for that all important time in life,
your son's six minutes with fate.
Why are all the opponents modeled after Charles Atlas with great bulging biceps?

It takes some practice and much encouragement from like souls
until you can anticipate your son's appearance, the ritual handshake that shrill whistle
from which there is no turning back.

You give yourself credit for conditioning your voice to give encouragement
and advice at "full bore" for the entire six minutes.
Your keen eye can spot a three point near fall that the ref only gave two back points for.
You watch the clock high on the wall, yet never miss a single move on the mat below.

When the final buzzer sounds,
it's either the hand raised and your heart bursts,
or the head drops, and you cry just a little.
Regardless, you are proud and happy because your son did it on his own.
You love the coaches a little more because they helped your boy become a man.

But win or lose,
he will be back tomorrow with the same pride and determination,
and you know, you'll be there too.