A look and a glance, revisited

A month or so ago my son was up and out of the bed somewhat earlier than usual. When asked about his unusually early start to the day, he replied he was going to breakfast with “his girl.”

“And that’s not you anymore, babe,” my husband teased me with a look that seemed to wonder: will she laugh or will she cry? Bless his heart, sometimes he never knows.

I did neither. Instead, I smiled my agreement as I thought of a post I wrote a few years ago in which I expressed curiosity over this very phenomenon: the girlfriend. I am sharing that post again today, but not for any of the reasons you might think. My son does indeed have a girlfriend; however, we are quite unlike the mom and girlfriend I describe in the following post. There are no awkward conversations or feeble attempts at superficial small talk, no pretended pleasantry. Instead there is very real pleasantry! “His girl” is a fantastic girl, someone I like and enjoy very much, just the sort of girl every mom wishes for her son, a girl who loves the Lord Jesus and seems to really like my boy, a girl who borrowed, read, and enjoyed my copy of Jane Eyre. Really, what more could a mom want? 🙂

No, I re-post, not because of any awkwardness, social or otherwise, but as yet another testimony to the quick passage of time. I’ve told you before: time, it flies. I thought about this stage then as being distant in the future and yet here I am, far sooner than I thought. As usual, I am caught between gratitude for the now that is now and astonishment that the now is really the now…

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From the Lisa writes… archives, circa August, 2008

My number two son’s soccer game was nearing its end. The players for the next game were warming up on the sidelines, big boys, young men really, probably seventeen or eighteen years old. As I cheered after my son’s header goal (a goal scored by hitting the ball into the net with your head), a group of spectators for the next game crowded in around me: what appeared to be a mom, a dad, a young girl (16 or 17 herself) and a grandpa trailing behind.
Though the stands were hardly full, they must have liked the looks of my vantage point because we were all wedged in pretty tight once they took their seats. Evidently they could not read my body language that clearly stated “Get out of my way–my boy is playing out there and I cannot see THROUGH you!” not to mention “Hello? I like my SPACE!”
Anyway, because of our close proximity, I was able to observe and listen, and through the course of their conversation, I discovered this little family was indeed a mom and a dad and a grandpa of one of the players soon to take the field.
Their son/grandson walked by at one point, his mom saying something to him, maybe asking him a question. (Wonder if she’s like me and asks before every. single. game: “Got your shin guards? Cleats? Water bottle?”) Though he glanced at his mom as he answered, he looked at the girl and only the girl.
She was the girlfriend.
This I could tell not just from the looking by the young boy, but by the obvious effort the mom was making at conversation. As I heard her ask the girl about what classes she was taking and attempt to make small talk about the last soccer match, I detected some small strain in her voice, some small degree of pretended pleasantry that didn’t quite ring true. Oh, don’t get me wrong, she was nice, extremely so. I just got the impression she was trying too hard, her heart not really in it.
I thought: I’ve seen my future.
Yep, one day, sooner or later, though no doubt it will come much sooner rather than later, I will be the mom making small talk with the girlfriend. She will be a nice girl, she’d better be, but still I will feel as if I must try too hard and be too pleasant because part of me will wish for the look and not the glance.
He loved me first and best, I will want to say. She of course will not believe me and neither will he. I didn’t either, not until I became a mom and literally became the center of his world. Though it was only a few months until he preferred his daddy and then several years (still counting…) until he preferred the girl.
I’m not saying I want to tie my children to my apron strings; not at all. I’ve seen mothers who smother and I do not wish that for myself nor my boys. I once had an older and wiser friend remind me that we raise our kids to let them go, and so I do. I just didn’t know it would happen so darn fast and that the letting go would be so bittersweet.
When it is my turn to sit in the bleachers making small talk with some young thing and my boy walks by with a look for her and a glance for me, may I be kind and gracious, thankful for the opportunity to love him and raise him even as I let him go, trusting the One who gave him to me in the first place.
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Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger

4 thoughts on “A look and a glance, revisited”

  1. So, now that I will be having a son in the not-too-distant future…this made me both teary and hopeful. Already praying for a godly girl for him…but I am now adding to that petition – that she would be one that I genuinely like and enjoy. 😉

  2. My 19 year old son has had a female "friend" for almost five years now. Yep; exactly not the way I brought him up (we encouraged our kids to avoid exclusive relationships with the opposite gender until they were done high school), but he did it, anyway. She was absolutely NOT the girl I would have chosen. From a very sad family situation and with "mother" baggage up the wazoo, it has taken the better part of these past five years to get her to even really speak to me. It has only been in the last year that she has begun to open up to me. This was not what I wanted, and there have been bumps in the road that have been pretty heart-wrenching. My son will tell you he wished he had not started dating so young; she will tell you the same thing. They both tell my 17 year old son that, and so far, he's listened. I don't know what the future is for these two young people. My husband and I are of the mind that, ideally, dating is for after marriage, and that young people should be very careful about strong attachments when marriage is years down the road. I love this young lady as if she was my own daughter, but I tremble, seriously tremble, at what will happen should they not marry. It will be akin to a divorce. We are her family; I have no idea what will happen in the future; I try not to think about it. And then there is the very heart-wrenching story of my daughter who dated someone seriously in high school; I could write a book about that. These two things have been among the most serious trials of my parenting time. I am so happy for you that the experience is such a positive one.

  3. "I am caught between gratitude for the now that is now and astonishment that the now is really the now…"Yep. You're only a few steps ahead of me on the parenting trail. My oldest turns 15 next month. It's going too, too fast for my taste.

  4. Oh, this is making me cry… lately my toddler son's been calling out for daddy more than mommy, and while this is as it should be and makes me happy to see the bond start to grow deeper, it's a tiny bit crushing. I can't imagine what it'll be like when I'm replaced with another female… sniff, sniff.

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