Sitting down to dinner, I find myself staring at the side of my son’s face.  He doesn’t know I’m watching.

It’s a child’s face.  A boy’s face.  But not a baby’s face.  Not even a young child’s face.  He’s nine.  His skin is smooth.  And soft, still.  Perfect.  But it won’t always be.  For an instant, in my mind’s eye, I catch a glimpse of this face as a teenage face.  Less smooth.  Less soft.  Prone to the same imperfections my poor teenage face was.

And then I realize that not just his face, but his whole body, the body of this one-time perfect baby I held on my chest, and bathed, and consoled, will become a gangly, smelly, ever-moody teenage body.  He gets older with every breath, bigger every day.  He will be a teenager, and then he will no longer be a teenager, and then he will be gone.

My heart aches at the thought.  An aching, sinking, desperate feeling.  We know this moment will come.  In the logical recesses, we have to know that children will grow and leave, don’t we?  It has to be what we want, even, on some level.  What is the alternative?

The truth is, we have no idea how this will feel, though.  Before we feel it.  We never think about this part, going in.  The sensation of creating a life that did not exist, loving  this person we never knew before, more than anything we have ever known or loved, only to have them leave you.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sorry.  I wouldn’t trade it or undo anything.  But I do get just a little bit sad sometimes.

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