At 15 I Hold Onto the Boy but Also the Emerging Young Man

A few days ago my youngest turned fifteen. It snuck up on me. Etching a beautiful ache into my heart in a way I didn’t expect.

I look at my oldest- almost seventeen- and feel like he is already a man. I swear, he just turned fifteen yesterday. And I’m left wondering how those years disappeared in the blink of an eye. I see him now- one foot out the door. So busy with the life he is building that I feel like I’m watching these last years with him through a tiny picture window.

When he turned fifteen I had no idea how quickly it would turn into seventeen, and how much would change in the journey along the way- for both of us.

Fifteen is still a boy but an emerging man. (Photo Credit: Amy Keyes)

I saw how quickly 15 turned to 17

But now I do. And so I feel this fifteen with so much more gravity with my youngest. Knowing he is no longer a boy, but not quite yet a man. And the realization that this seems to be the last baby step of innocence before the race into adulthood. And it’s something that is pulling my heart to a place it’s never been.

Fifteen is still the infancy of so many things.

Freshman year growing pains. Changing friendships. First loves, and first heartbreaks. Homecoming dances and Friday Night Lights. Suiting up in a newly earned high school uniform for the big game. Hoping to get noticed by the cheering crowd in the stands. Dreaming so big of all the possibilities that lie ahead, with an open heart that still holds the innocence of youth.

Fifteen is pushing the boundaries and testing the waters.

Asking for later curfews, and navigating the no. Finding the courage to make strong and healthy choices, when the weight of peer pressure begins to weigh heavier than ever.

It’s the beginning of paving the path to the road you want to take- even when you don’t really know where it’s going. Trying to find the right people to surround yourself with to get where you think it might be.

Fifteen is still not quite old enough.

For prom. For driving on your own. For going on a date without your parents lurking in the parking lot to take you home. For doing all of the things that you want to believe you’re ready for, but still hold too much youth to be embraced by.

Fifteen is still kind of a kid.

But fifteen is still more than my heart was ready for so quickly. Especially when I know it’s the last fifteen candles on the cake in our home.

I still see the child but also the beginning of the young man

I still catch glimpses of innocence. The way he will lay his head on my shoulder once in a while when we watch a movie. Or, the way he still looks for me in the bleachers to see if I’m watching, even when he’s not in the game. The way I bust him dancing and singing his favorite song, when he thinks no one is around to see. Catching snowflakes on his tongue when he’s walking in the front door after school.

But now my heart knows that fifteen is the swirling that starts the wave of independence.

It’s watching from a distance as he makes mistakes, and also pulling him back close enough to remind him that I’m here to help him learn from them.

It’s walking by the bathroom and seeing him shave. Learning how to knot a necktie. Finding the sweet spot in the perfect amount of deodorant and cologne.

I know that fifteen is all sorts of feels for both of us.

I look at him and see a mirror reflection of what I carried in my own heart at that age. Peaks and valleys of emotion trying to find his place in this world of high school. The winds of change, blowing him in every direction as he tries to find footing socially, emotionally, and physically.

And I had no idea at all that my parents were holding something equally as pivotal. Watching the last years of childhood transform me into adulthood, and trying to hold onto every moment before the final thread of youth was cut, releasing me into the future.

Here we are- fifteen. Both of us knowing how quickly these next years will fly by. Him counting the seconds. And me, wondering how I will ever be ready for that moment of letting go.

More Great Reading:

We Are Forgetting About Our Teenage Boys and It’s Not Okay

About Amy Keyes

Amy Keyes is the proud mom of two teenagers and a crazy husky-lab named Walter. Married to the best college sweet cheeks a girl could have ever found. Former journalist turned middle school teacher, running and workout enthusiast, and enjoyer of dance parties for one. There's nothing she loves more than watching her kids do what they love and rediscovering herself in the process.

Read more posts by Amy

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