I’m 5’4″. Clearly I’m not unaccustomed to being one of the shorter ones in a crowd, especially since my footwear is most often flip flops and never stilettos. But things are changing here at home. It’s almost like I’m shrinking. And I know you see me shrinking, too. You see us out and about. “Oh, my! He has grown,” you’ll exclaim. But you can’t understand.
For you, it’s an amusing shock to see how he’s grown. For me, I live with that growing weed of a young man. It’s more than a striking visual; the comparison between him and me. It’s a constant reminder that our relationship is changing.
My boy is taller than me.
I see it when he stumbles out of bed and into the kitchen for breakfast in the morning. But I can almost ignore it then. He sits down quickly and hunches over at the table, spooning cereal into his mouth. So many things are done while sitting, whether at that table or on the couch or in the car.
The car. That’s where the change happened last. I remember when he moved from required back seat sitting to front passenger seat sitting. Oh, the changes! It was like something opened up inside him. He talked nonstop that first drive we took. I loved it. I occasionally glanced away from the road to look at him and there over to my right were eyes looking straight at me. We were equals and the move was good. These weren’t just directions and demands bounced back and forth between a divided seat. This shift in placement promoted conversation.
“He’ll be driving himself soon,” you tell me.
And when you say it, I see him in my mind. He’s moving away from me. Literally. More often he’s not at home but out with others. The distance tugs at me. I feel me shrinking as our identities are shifting. And so I savor when he’s near, even when he’s walking away from me. We’ll cross each other in the hallway, going to our separate rooms, and I’ll feel a shadow. We’ll stop by the car door in the garage and he’ll open it for me.
I’m caught by the gentlemanliness of him. I’m proud. I’m even comforted. I see him as a caregiver, one day. But that’s future tense and reality shakes me when we stand to face each other. My eyes look up, not down. He grins. And I search for a more authoritative tone to use.
My boy is taller than me. How do I remind him who I am? How do I maintain my place? How do I still instruct? How do I still discipline when needed? How do I…
But then I see it in his eyes, even from this different perspective. My boy still needs a mama.
So before we walk away, I stop myself. I forget my busy day. “Come sit with me awhile,” I say. And sometimes he has time.