A Man Among Men

I am a boy mom. I think I became this when I was still a teenager. I had more male friends than female, but I was also often the ‘mom’ of my groups. I watched out for the boys; coached and counseled them. I cheered for them, encouraged them, scolded them, and picked up after them. When I finally became a mom for real – having a boy was the best fit for me. I was blessed.

I spent many nights with my infant boy snuggled in my arms. He craved touch and warmth, and slept better on my chest than in his bed alone. The wiggly, restless baby would calm nearly instantly when held against a body. And then he grew.

As an energetic toddler he needed strong guidance, both verbal and physical, to get his body and mind to cooperate. I would scoop him up with the weighted blanket and wrap him up tight, full of giggles and smiles. He called them burrito hugs and learned to ask for them as more than just a game. And then he grew a bit more.

As a young boy he sat, always just a bit too close, and held my hand whenever he could reach it. He liked to hold my thumb and trace back and forth on the tip of the nail. Sensory cravings find their soothing ways. He was in my lap, in my space, in my face….always. And then he grew some more.

I have watched my boy grow over the years. I have coached and counseled him. I cheer for him, encourage him, scold him, and pick up after him. I see him now and realize, I am not a boy mom any longer. He is becoming a man.

We celebrate his birthdays and measure his height, this was not a surprise. And yet – as I passed by his room early one morning and caught a glimpse of his bare legs while he slept, it struck me like being doused with ice water. These were not the legs of a boy.

He doesn’t wear shorts or go bare chested, so the physical changes I could observe in him were mostly confined to his height and facial features. Yes, he was taller and his shoulders got broader and his slim jeans wouldn’t fit anymore and he has a bit of a mustache and some chin hair that I like to call his Shaggy Rogers beard (it really does look Shaggy-like!). But, he was still my boy. Until I saw his hairy, thick legs twisted among his blankets as he slept. Those were the legs of a man. He’d grown still more.

I wept.

Each milestone in his life has been marked by a mother’s tears. The ones he reached too quickly, the ones he met on schedule, and those he had to work harder for. I wept from pride. I wept from the purest joy I’ve ever known. I wept for all we were leaving behind and all that was still to come.

I have never been afraid of his growing up and growing older. I have truly looked forward to each phase in his development – getting to know the new version of him that was emerging. It was exciting to watch him become “him.” This time it was different. I realized that, while he will continue to grow and change (hopefully for all his life), I am quickly reaching the end of my part in that process. He does not need me as much. He does not reach for me as much. He is becoming independent and standing on his own. This is what I’ve wanted all along. This is why I made that baby boy reach and stretch and wiggle to grab his favorite toys – to show him that he doesn’t need me, that he is capable all on his own. I love who my son is today, but I am missing being a boy mom.

Another milestone.

More tears.

And then……he grows again.

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