I can’t shake the feeling that there’s a strange man in my house.
Sometimes he hides away in a dark room. Other times he lingers in the background, a shadowy, unfamiliar figure.
Every now and then, he will even creep up behind me, lurking several inches above my 5’8” frame.
And when he speaks, his voice is so deep and masculine, it’s jolting. I try not to stare but can’t help but wonder, “Who is this man?”
The giant Adidas sneakers at the bottom of the stairs surely belong to the same guy. Along with the soda cans and ramen noodle packages that seem to multiply every time I blink.
The empty juice carton in the fridge. The disappearing cereal, string cheese, popcorn, fruit snacks… it must be him!
When I can’t find my phone charger, I blame that on him, too.
This strange man will sometimes lift me up, off the ground, into his impossibly long, willowy arms, as he mumbles with baritone, Mountain-Dew breath, “Love you, Mom.”
And I have to remind myself that he is neither strange, nor a man. In fact, he’s only 14!
Even though his hulking size says differently. Even though he takes up much too much space to be that same eight-pound baby I rocked to sleep, who looked up at me with those expressive blue eyes as if I was the most wondrous being in existence.
Today, when he chuckles mischievously, as his face crinkles with amusement and his voice gives way to a squeak and a crack, I can sometimes spot the toddler who fit perfectly into my lap and always held my hand in public.
These days, he opens doors for me like a gentleman and carries my groceries without hesitation. And one day, before I know it, he truly will be a man and not just the figure of one. That’s the goal of parenting, right? To raise a well-adjusted adult?
It’s an entirely different reality to stand idly by and witness it happening in real time. To observe a newly minted teen—my own young teenage son—walking through the world in a body that could easily be mistaken for an adult’s.
What a bizarre experience. One day your child is tripping over his own feet and gulping down more food than you ever thought possible. And then—BAM!—there is a full-grown man standing where your kid used to be.
I wasn’t prepared for this. Why didn’t anybody warn me?
One day, I suppose I’ll get used to his size, and this growing-up phenomenon won’t feel so foreign or abrupt.
But certainly not today.
Because today, there’s a strange man in my house.