My son has a job as a lifeguard this summer and today I drive him to work. Though he now has his driver’s license, he does not yet have his own car, so for the time being we must share mine and he is being a good sport about it. I drive slowly; neither of us has an agenda and there are no external distractions. We are simply mother and son, each fully present, as we so often were when he was young, before I became preoccupied with the passing of time and midlife reinvention, and before he became preoccupied with the demands of growing up and teenage activities.
He talks to me about his job and I listen and I can tell that he still cares that I listen. He tells me about the beginning of his cross country season and that he will be among the leaders of the team during his senior year. I am impressed and I can tell that it still matters to him that I am. We talk about colleges and I encourage him to follow his deep interest in the one that is half-way across the country, even though the distance is a concern. I see him surprised at my encouragement, but glad that he still has my support. Though he is almost 17 and nearly 6 feet tall, I see that he is still vulnerable, still lighthearted, still interested in what his mom thinks of his life; the same son as before, only in a different uniform.