Brains on Fire

I have read that teenagers’ brains

want to learn through hunger, thirst, and desire.*

This is not something they do on purpose

to annoy us. They are chemically altered

because of their age and the enormous amounts

of growing going on in their brains.

They are drawn to things

that require everything of them.

They are tugged by sacrifice and meaning.

They do not even know this is happening.

They are pulled with a force they do not understand,

to crawl and scrape and hang from their knuckles

to get in at that window. They will not remember this

in the morning. They will not be the same person

tomorrow. Worlds are collapsing around them,

and being forged at the same time. Everything

is all or nothing, or who cares?

I remember so little of my youth, except the hunger,

and the longing for something other than what I had.

I remember drama for days, and not wanting it,

but not being able to escape it. I yearned for belonging,

for being someone’s everything, anyone’s anything,

just not me, here, alone with this brain on fire. Please.

I was given many rules, and narrow paths to tread,

and failure was inevitable. Shame and loathing

followed shortly thereafter, followed by screw it,

and indulgence at an escalated level for a very long time.

As a mother, I try everything to keep from pushing

my kids into rebellion. There are hardly any rules, and

wide paths, much freedom to express, be and be happy,

eat plenty of good food, read great books,

Play games, wrestle, explore, create.

All I want is for them to be happy, so I have

a teenager who rebels sometimes by hating everything.

Because Rebellion isn’t a choice either, it is

hardwired obstinacy and required contrariness.

It is distancing me from you, to create a me

I can call my own. And I have to question everything.

I have to rip apart this fabric you have created

because I want to see the threads,

and does the Center Hold?

And will you still love me however far I push you?

This is the balancing act of motherhood, remembering

enough of my own defiance to trust

my children to wage their battles fiercely,

to come into themselves in all their glory.

*Article about Teenager’s Learning through Wanting  and Thirst…

Photo from here

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