Many people ask me how I deal with watch my 19-year-old son ride a bull. Here are stages that this momma goes through when my son rides. Anticipation, fear, hope, and relief are words that come to mind when talk about my son's passion.
The day of a rodeo or practice begins with anticipation, much like it did when he was younger. I waited for his hits during his little league baseball games. In middle school, I prayed he remembered the plays during his football games and the notes during orchestra concerts. In high school, we prayed he made the auction when he showed animals at the district FFA livestock show.
When I see him climb into the chute and on the back of an angry bull weighing over a thousand pounds fear kicks in. I make the sign of the cross and silently pray for his safety. My heart rate speeds up, and I hold my breath. Images of what could happen flash though my mind. Somehow, I move my phone setting to video and position it so I can focus on my son. He will expect a good video when he is finished. In a matter of seconds, he wraps his hand in the rope. During this time, I click record on my phone right before I hear his name announced. Fear builds when I see him nod his head, relaying to the person holding the gate that he is ready for his ride.
When the gate swings open and the ride begins, all fear disappears, and hope takes over. Like the rest of the spectators, I hope he stays on the bull's back until the siren sings out, announcing that my son has remained on the beast for eight seconds.
Fear returns when he flies off the bull’s back. Is he going to land on his feet and sprint to safety? Will he land on his back and need help from the bullfighters to escape the bull's horns and stomping feet? Will his hand release, or will he remain hung up and end his ride while he and the bull run in circles until he can release his hand?
Relief happens when both he and the bull have left the arena safely. My muscles relax and I send up one more prayer, giving thanks he is safe.
While I walk to the car I hope he never rides again, but I know he will. His father and I will be there when we can every time we can to cheer him on and let him know how proud we are of him.