My earliest memories of my Mama convinced me being a mother was the closest thing to being either a superhero or a one-person Mafioso.
I can recall recounting something my first grade teacher (who hated me, by the way) had said to me on the way home; Mama turned that Monte Carlo around like something out of “Smokey and the Bandit” and hightailed it back to the school to confront the woman.
The evil woman was scared. I was amazed – Mama was a skinny little waif of a thing then but she was putting the fear of the devil in this hardened woman who looked like she was carved on Mount Rushmore.
A deep epiphany came over me that day. Mama, and not just Granny, was to be feared.
Even though that dreadful woman hated me, she pretty much gave me a wide berth after that, until one day she made another derogatory comment to me. Remembering the way she had reacted that fateful day, I narrowed my eyes and clenched my jaw.
“Don’t make me get my Mama,” I said.
Over the course of the next several years, Mama became legendary – a parental “John Wick,” if you will, minus the artillery. Her weapons were her tongue, her big puffy red bouffant, and the fact she was right. And God forbid if anyone disparaged her Kitten. She went from a relatively reserved, quiet peace-loving lady who dared not offend a soul into a hellcat with claws.
When one high school science teacher, who seemed to take pride in how many of us failed his weekly quizzes, decided to point out one of my friend’s test scores in front of the class, my friend replied, “Don’t make me get Sudie’s Mama up here. I will.”
The teacher looked at him and laughed. “In case you forgot, you’re not her child.”
“Yeah, well, she will still come up here if I call her. Don’t make me call her.”
“Would she?” the teacher asked, directing the question to me.
I nodded. She would.
She did, too. I told her what the teacher did and the next morning, she was in the principal’s office, telling him making fun of a student in front of his peers was not conducive for learning and created a hostile educational environment. If it was wrong, it was wrong, and Mama couldn’t stand for injustice.
We had a new teacher the following semester.
Flash forward to my senior trip. Two friends and I had decided to go to Panama City. Mama was fully against this, saying we were too young to go out of state.
Granny, always on my side, snorted and said, “When you was her age, you was already married and divorced. Let the youngun’ go. She’s gotta live a little before life sucks the joy right out of her.”
The morning after we graduated, we hit the road, arriving at a hotel that took our money but didn’t give us a room.
Here we were; three girls completely out of our elements and miles away from home.
I pulled out the only thing I knew could work. I sidled up to the counter, looked that clerk in the eye and said, “Don’t make me call my Mama.”
One of my friends whispered, “I don’t think they know about your Mama here in PCB.”
“No, we don’t know about your Mama. And we don’t care. Your Mama can’t do anything,” the greasy man sneered.
And you know what? For the first time in my life, when I told Mama about it, Mama didn’t do anything.
When we went home two days later – because we realized we were too young to be miles and miles away from home without our mamas—I told Mama what happened. She pursed her lips together, her grey-green eyes flashed first with anger, then worry, and she nodded silently while I told her the horrors I had endured.
“I am so sorry,” she finally said when I finished.
“I got the name of the hotel and the name of the mean clerk for you,” I told her.
“I don’t need it,” she said. “You see, Kitten, you wanted to go off and be all grown. I thought you were far too young to go off with your friends without an adult. Had you maybe listened to me, and not gone, this wouldn’t have happened.”
The woman who lived to defend and protect her precious Kitten was not going to unleash her locusts in another state? What in the world was wrong with her?
“So, you aren’t going to do anything, Mama?”
“Not this time,” she said. “You wanted to be all grown and independent. Part of being grown means taking care of your own problems.”
Of course, since I have grown up, Mama will still launch an attack if anyone wrongs her only child. She has threatened to come up here on numerous occasions when I have told her of some injustices.
And I admit, there’s sometimes, I wish I could just let Mama handle some stuff.
As a parent myself, I am trying to teach my child how to handle his own issues. The other day, after exploring every possible option to get a game to save, he asked for the phone. “Who are you calling?” I asked.
“Their customer service department,” he said.
“Do you want – ”
“No, Mama, I got this. I’m 11, you know, I can take care of it.”
He scurried off to leave a message for tech support. They called back within 10 minutes.
“Wow,” I said. “That was quick! They must have excellent customer service.”
“Maybe. Or maybe it was what I said when I left my message.”
“What did you say?” I asked.
“I told them I had spent my money I saved up on this and needed to know how to make it work. But I think the kicker was, “Don’t make me get my Mama.””
The legend undoubtedly continues.