My Teenage Sons

10:08 AMHeather

I walk through the entry way and find a pile of shoes there.  Lying just outside the wardrobe where they are to be tucked away.  And I think about how somehow nothing has changed--yet, everything has changed.  

Because that pile of shoes used to lie just next to the baskets where they were to be tucked away.  But, the shoes were tiny and boyish, and sometimes they lit up when you walked.  They were evidence of the two busy boys that lived there.  They were a laughable reminder of how I can ask you to keep things tidy.  And you nearly do.  Just about.  Close enough.

But now, when I see that pile of shoes, I hardly recognize them.  They are big.  Man size, in fact.  Almost the same size as your Dad.  And my heart clenches up.  Instead of being evidence of the little boys who live here, they are shouting to me about the boys who are growing up too quickly.  Who will slip on those shoes and go on their own paths.  All too soon--those paths will take them away from home.  And I try to remember how I will miss that pile.  How instead of being annoyed by it, I should embrace it for what it is.  The evidence of two busy boys--big as they may be--who still live under my roof.  

I stand next to you to talk, and we are eye to eye.  Or, rather--I am beginning to look up to you.  And it makes my stomach churn.  Wasn't it just yesterday that I had to stoop down to my knees in order for you to "give me your eyes" when I gave an instruction?  Didn't you just hug my legs and hide behind them in a moment of shyness?  Didn't you just have to lift your head way up to look up at me?

I can remember the days when I tried to get anything done, and I constantly had you boys underfoot.  And then, eventually, your baby sister, too.  I couldn't even go to the bathroom without someone sticking their little tiny hand under the door and yelling, "Mom!  Hey Mom!"  Now, you guys like to hang out in your own rooms.  Your own separate corners.  I find myself asking if you'd like to sit and watch a movie together.  Or just hang together.  "Nope.  I'm good," you say.  My heart rips a little with the pain of your pulling away.  And I feel conflicted with that common sense voice in my head that tells me to be proud of the independent young man you've become.

Wasn't it not that long ago that you stood at the top of the stairs, looked down on me, and clenched those little chubby hands, with your toddler belly hanging out, declaring, "I'm going to marry YOU someday, Mommy!  Not anybody else." I laughed and smiled, confident in your affections.  Now, we have conversations about your someday and college and career and choosing a mate wisely.  I see you making such amazing choices when it comes to friends and girls.  And I realize that I'm off the table as an option.  You've discovered that I'm taken and you're thinking about making your own life.  I'm proud.  And nostalgic.  It's all so bittersweet.

You used to ask me "why" a million times a day.  Now you tell me all about your own opinion and have to be reminded to ask me for permission.  As we dance the dance of letting go and giving freedoms and yet still being your protection and authority.  We trip over each other sometimes, and it feels clumsy.  Other times, we are perfectly in sync and I am simply amazed at how you rise to the occasions when we give you the opportunity.  

My baby boys.  Once, not that long ago, so adorably dressed in overalls and little plaid shirts with light up shoes.  Matching each other, no less.  Now, with freshly shaven faces and Nike elite socks and compression shirts and athletic shorts.  And those shoes--those huge man shoes that scream at me that you are indeed, becoming a man.  

But, as I've always said, you may tower over me.  You may be a grown man.  You may be independent and out on your own.  But, you will always be my baby boys.  For this, I am grateful beyond words on this brutal and bittersweet journey of watching you grow and spread your wings.  Press on, dear ones.  Continue as you are.  Seeking the Lord.  Choosing His narrow ways.  Flying in your own directions.  Never forget--your mama loves you.  And nothing you can ever do will ever make me stop.

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