I had a surreal experience last weekend and I am still reeling from it. My baby boy, born to me what seems like only a fleeting moment ago, is standing before me—over six feet tall, wide-eyed, and dreamy as he sees his girlfriend putting on the finishing touches to her prom attire. She is unaware that my son is across the room, dressed in his new black tuxedo, with vest, tie, links and a smile so sweet even my heart was melting.
I did help him awkwardly scramble into his tux; he’s never worn one before. Correction, when he was about eight years old he wanted in the worst way to be James Bond 007. I mean, really BE James Bond. For a while he actually thought he was Kimberly the Pink Ranger. Mind you, he was four and didn’t understand the complications that created when he insisted I referred to him as such. Somewhere along the line he realized it would be way cooler to be James Bond instead. I think he really admired Sean Connery’s accent. And who doesn’t? What a figure he cut in his tuxedo! So, suffice it to say, when my son was eight, he asked to be James Bond 007 for Halloween. I could do nothing but comply. To rent a tiny tux at that point in time was really not much more of an expense than purchasing a store-bought costume. He had the shoes from a wedding we’d attended recently and all he really needed were the communication gadgets. I think we scrounged some Happy Meal transmitter left over from a McDonald’s Disney Toy Story promotional or something. How dashing was he as he rang the neighbors’ doorbells and asked for his ... shaken, not stirred!
However, as I stood before him helping adjust the cufflinks and properly button the double vented jacket to show just a peek of the vest and tie perfectly coordinated with her silk gown, I had to stifle the tears. Either I was going to blink them back or the floodwaters would flow. That would NOT be cool with the girlfriend watching.
How did we arrive at this point so soon? I am so unsure. And why was she looking at him that way? I am the one that loves him like that. With all I’ve got and all my heart and more. And worse yet, why was he looking at HER like that? Aren’t I the love of his life? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be with little boys?
I have three of them and I’m not sure I can go through this two more times. Of course, I’ll have to and I’ll deal. Will it be easier each time, or will it rip my heart out over and over again? Do I have to be tough and nonchalant? How can I not tell him how handsome he is and how very proud I am of him? Will he be angry with me if I tell him he’s the most handsome young man around? Or is that not for me to say? I’ve never done this before and I really don’t like having to be cool about it. I think it would be easier if I had a daughter. I could tell exactly how she was feeling, and tell her how she should behave, and then I can tell her how the boy will probably be very nonchalant after the prom is a distant memory. I can explain that her heart will someday be broken, but that it’s only going to make her stronger and help her to understand what is important to her and to respect her instincts and her thoughts and mostly to stand proud and be who she is.
Instead, I have a son. Three sons. I am on the other side, I can look at him just like she is looking at him and reach back to years gone by and feel the feeling she is feeling right now, because I was there once myself. I can’t tell her, watch out, he might break your heart. Or sometimes he’s going to forget to be respectful of your feelings. I can say hold yourself firm in your beliefs that you are strong and be steadfast to who you are. Don’t let anyone change that. My son, I am hoping, will do right by her always. I’ve tried very hard to ensure that as I’ve raised him.
God willing my sons aren’t going to be those kinds of boyfriends. I’ve done the best I can to teach them to respect, admire, and appreciate the women in their lives and to be sure they show them that always. We all have bad days, but I hope that generally they remember. I see the look in his eyes. I see a future that is uncertain and I want it to be perfect for him. I want him to continue to feel what he is feeling right now, even though it hurts me to watch. I know the love he’s reeling is not for me right now, but still I hope that he can hold onto this special moment. I know that as his mom I can. I will never forget it.
The love is flowing from me, through him and to her. I hope and anticipate only that he can remember how important it is to hold fast to his heart but share it joyously and always remember to cradle hers, too. I see that he had a small taste of that prom night and I am happy for him. I wish you love always my sweet, young man.