I glance at my 14-year-old son out of the corner of my eye as I drive. He gazes down, transfixed by the game he is playing on his phone. I notice his cheeks are still as smooth as they were when he was a toddler. His blue eyes are bright, his distinctive eyebrows arched as if he is puzzled.
My son’s face has not changed much over the years. I know that it will happen, though. I am waiting for the change.
I am not new to waiting. I waited nine years into my marriage before I had my son. And then I waited nine months for him to be born.
Of course, I did not wait to love him. That took an instant.
Yet, this long wait for the change from boy to man is unexpected. Maybe it’s because I grew up the middle of three girls who were all women by the time we entered high school. Indeed, at fourteen I was fully grown. My feet reached their current size in the fifth grade.
But a month after starting high school, my son is still a boy. And so, I wait.
I know I am not the only one waiting. There are other moms of boys smaller and shorter than my son. Their boys have skinny arms and legs, too, with faces boasting that beautiful skin that only the prepubescent unknowingly flaunt.
But other mothers are not waiting. Their boys have filled out, with deep voices, faces to shave, and muscles bulging from testosterone. I notice their boys, of course, on the playing field. High school teams boast an odd combination of boys and men.
I try to embrace the time I have left before my son becomes a man. I am not in a hurry for these changes, but I am waiting for them. And this period of waiting is fragile to my heart.
“Mom, I’m still a kid, you know?” he says to me as we arrive home and get out of the car. “I still want to play with my sister,” he tells me, “and I might not want to anymore after puberty.”
His words make me smile, both at his comfort with talking about the changes coming, and at the image of his gangly frame trotting towards his younger sister playing in the yard.
I know you’re still a kid, my son. I know. So I hold close to my heart the picture of you and your sister hanging out in the front yard and, for a moment, I forget about waiting for what comes next.