Yes, I should’ve seen . . . or smelled it coming.

On a recent shoe shopping adventure, we stood in the aisle and I wondered who I could give a sideways look to regarding their lack of hygiene. The smell made me want to abandon the mission and evacuate the area. I was mortified to realize the smell was coming from my son’s old shoes. Eek.

Then there was the fact that we left the store with a pair of shoes from the men’s section. Double eek.

Then the temps finally climbed above 70 degrees and he returned home from school with wet armpit stains. Trifecta eek. 

So it was time.

For the love of fourth-grade teachers whose classrooms smell like something has gone bad, it was time. Off to Target we went. There the two of us stood in the men’s grooming aisle. I suggested we avoid things that we’re overly scented. He wanted to get the same kind as his dad. That’s sweet, but I’m not ready for my boy to smell like my man. We opted for Tom’s brand. It is natural without all the aluminum that I probably shouldn’t slather on either but I do, because that’s me and he’s my baby and deserves better. It’s what moms do. I can’t protect him from puberty but aluminum and artificial scents are still under my control.

As we left the store I told him how I couldn’t believe I’d just bought him deodorant. He asked why it was a big deal and I explained it was just another sign he was growing up and that I didn’t feel ready for that. He reassured me that we’d be fine. 

The next morning he was freshly showered and eager to apply his new accessory. Far more eager than he was to grow into cartoon underpants or brushing his teeth. He indeed was growing up. I, on the other hand, thought of all that is to come. The changes. The worrying if I’ve taught him enough on the stuff that really matters. Well, that has me breaking out in a nervous sweat. Perhaps I need to go back to the store for some clinical strength antiperspirant of my own.

He’s right. We will be fine. He will drag me into this future whether I’m ready or not. And gosh I do love him. I adore the person he is growing into and thank God for this front row seat. I get previews when he asks to pray for a friend who is sad or offers unexpected help. He is a quiet guy with a quick wit that sometimes catches even me by surprise. He knows things I didn’t teach him and asks questions I can’t always answer without the assistance of Google. Like all loving mothers, I marvel at my child.

I keep reminding myself that time is not running out. I will always be his mom. Even when he towers over me he will still need me. The needs will change but be no less significant. I’ll keep showing up day after day now in hopes that he will continue coming to me. I will always listen. I’ll do my very best to honestly answer his questions—even the ones that make me sweat.

Michelle Koch

Michelle truly believes that our lives are meant to be amazing adventures and that those adventures can keep us close to home or take us around the world. She dreams of living in the country, but within close proximity to a Target. She is married to a guy she has loved for more than 25 years and doesn’t feel old enough for that to be possible. Her son has her wrapped around his dirty little fingers. Michelle writes about seeking grace, celebrating beauty, and living with gratitude at One Grateful Girl. You can connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.