Somewhere in Between Boy and Man

on raising boys // angie warren

There's a space in time, somewhere between boy and man, that baffles me, as a mama, as a woman.

It's a place where Lego battles are inviting but play-dough isn't. Bubble baths turn into showers, and play dates are called "hanging out".

It's an awakened dance between us, sort of a fumbling Bambi waltz, really. I want to help him, to show how strong his legs are, that he can lead. But he's unsure, these new limbs are lanky and lean, and he's just getting used to them.

Mothering at this in between place is such beautiful heartbreak. I cover my eyes and wince as he learns hard lessons, I inhale the conflicting scent of Old Spice as he walks past me. I watch him in conversation with friends, one finger pressing his glasses up, he laughs. They laugh, I smile.

I see an eleven year old who is in a vast ocean, sinking, swimming, sinking, swimming. He's wrapped up in a confusing and strange body, but he's doing his best to stay afloat.

The boy who made me a mother, is walking the boardwalk to man-hood. I'm wanting to swim ahead, clear the path so he doesn't stumble. Every cell in me wants to watch the waters, ensure they're calm. I'm breaking apart inside, wanting so much to do and be and save and allow.

I want to protect his journey, but instead, I choose to swim beside him. It's here I get to hold out my hand, a life raft, not too close and not too far, as to allow him to find his own way, too.

He will swim with strength someday all too soon, and I'll watch with proud eyes, likely full of tears, for the small boy turned man. I'll clap and praise and sigh the best sigh knowing I did it, we did it, and the world is a better place because he's in it.

Our boys are becoming men, mamas. Before our very eyes, they're shedding their life vests. They're changing shape and finding strength. Our boys are stepping out of our boat, and into the sea. We're putting away play-dough and getting our water gear.

Are we gifting them their sea legs? Are we adjusting our sails? Or are we trying to swim for them? Though the waters may be choppy, we're raising swimmers. Hold on tight my fellow mamas. It's going to be a glorious ride.