My son entered the holiday season yet a boy, but will return to school this New Year a man. And so last night, we celebrated his coming of age with a “Manceremony.”
It was only a few days ago that my 12-year-old son with the warbled voice, the distinct junior high aloofness, and all the awkwardness of a “boy of a certain age,” roamed the halls of our home. Now, a man with a deep voice, facial hair and a buff physique has stolen my chubby cheeked angel.
He turned and smiled at me last night, and in the dim light of the fire, I caught the distinct outline of a mustache on my baby, I mean man-child.
He is almost a teen-ager now, though we have avoided that word in our home. I have chosen to reject all the rebelliousness and disrespect that comes along with that verbiage. My husband and I have decided to give the first-born instead, a “man” blessing, and skip the teen stage altogether. Clearly this is an experiment, one that may or may not work, but we are hopeful, though possibly naïve, for the years to come.
So in honor of his impending need to shave, I pulled out the champagne glasses for the whole family, excluding the baby, filled them with apple juice, and we toasted to the end of one season and the beginning of the next. With a nervous laugh, my son lifted his glass. I could see his emotions ranging from uncomfortable to proud, but he was obviously appreciative that we recognized his maturation and took it seriously.
And so, I will store up the memories of his childhood deep within my heart — his incessant curiosity, the cherubic blond curls, and his chubby little arms reaching out for a hug. It’s hard to let go of my tiny football player and embrace this new creature who wears cologne and attracts stares from women of all ages.
I feel unprepared and truly inadequate for this next stage of motherhood. We, both my son and I, stand at the edge of an uncertain future. Like the cusp of a roller-coaster, just about to crest over the highest peak, either I choose to lift my arms up high and enjoy the ride or close my eyes and scream for dear life.
Today we worked out at the gym, lifting weights side by side. And though I am teaching him proper form, he is pushing me on to new limits. Our relationship is changing, as I both embrace and simultaneously release my son into this dance of growing up.