William is my hockey player. He's 13 and is navigating the awkward, tenuous web that hangs between childhood and manhood. His face still looks like it has for the past five years or so: soft chin, wide eyes, smooth cheeks. But now there are bushier eyebrows, a smattering of zits, a broadening nose. My boy is changing and since he's my youngest one, it's all the more bittersweet to observe. Having seen his two older brothers leave their baby faces behind, I'm prepared for what lies ahead... but I'm also acutely aware of what is slipping through my fingers. Raising kids has proven to be a constant tug-of-war between wanting to be their mommy forever and aching to see what kind of adults these people will become.
Because of the hockey, William and I spend a lot of time in the car together. At least five days a week he has a practice or a game, sometimes close to home and other times not so close. His father, my ex-husband, helps with the driving but there are still several nights a week I find myself behind the wheel, my fourth child riding shotgun.
William and I talk about everything. And I mean everything. We discuss dogs, politics, Joss Whedon, the weather, divorce, bullying, cookies. While we talk, we listen to the radio. And when one of our jams comes on, we sing it loudly together, a painfully off-key mother/son duet. Lately it's been that Jay Z/Justin Timberlake song, "Holy Grail." We also do a mean version of "Wrecking Ball," and a passable rendering of Katy Perry and Juicy J's "Dark Horse." I know the time will come, very soon, when William won't be caught dead crooning with his mama, so while he's willing we rock that Ford Focus like nobody's business.
Yesterday, as we drove to the rink for practice, one of my all-time favorites came on: "Low" by Flo Rida. Yes, I love that song. Judge all you want, shawty.
So I told him, "You know what? I'll know I've found my soul mate when I find the man who will agree to doing a choreographed dance to THIS SONG at our wedding. Like, our 'first dance as man and wife.'" Because that's partially true. It's going to take a very certain someone, with a unique sense of humor, to bust a move with me to that tune. Call it my version of Cinderella's glass slipper.
William laughed. He said, "Do you think you'll ever get married again, Mom?"
I'm always honest with my kids. Always.
I replied, "I don't know. Sometimes I think my job right now is to just be your mom. And besides, I haven't even come close to finding someone I can imagine as a husband... or a stepfather." I've been divorced for seven years now, and despite swimming a few laps in the dating pool, a second marriage doesn't appear to be looming on my horizon. Working and parenting four teenagers doesn't leave me with much time for wedding fantasies, and that's okay with me for now.
There was a moment of quiet in the car, no sound but the wind outside and some ad on the radio.
My boy looked at me, all round blue eyes and dimpled chin. He smiled.
"It's okay to be picky, Mom," he said. I smiled back at him.
William leaned forward and turned up the volume as another one of our favorites came on. While Lorde started singing about calling the ladies out, with a hundred jewels between their teeth, my wise and sweet and lovely boy said to me: "You can dance with me until you find him."
And so we danced, and sang. All the rest of the way.
This post originally appeared on Jennifer's blog, The Happy Hausfrau.
Follow Jennifer Ball on Twitter: www.twitter.com/happy_haus