When my oldest son turned nine
years old, I had the most striking, heart-wrenching epiphany: My baby was
halfway done with his time at home.
Or rather, I was halfway done with
my time with him at home. Only nine more years until he turned 18 and became an
adult. (If not the mature, grown-up kind, then at least the legal kind.) And
though I tried to reassure myself that I had far more than nine years left with
him—it’s not as if I’ll never see him again once he turns 18, and he might
still live at home after that point—I knew that those remaining nine years bore
a sense of finality, both to his childhood and to my role as an active parent.
Birthday #7: My baby can read chapter books. My
baby can solve math problems. My baby can make their bed. My baby can shoot a
basketball all the way into the big hoop. My baby can figure out how to work
technology faster than I can. Should I still be calling this kid my baby? (Of
course I should. They’ll always be my baby.)
Birthday #8: My baby has big-kid teeth and
smelly shoes. They can cut their own food and pour their own drink. They can
discuss current events. They can ride their bike far past where I can see them.
I can even distinctly remember what it was like to be an eight-year-old. Now I’m
the parent of an eight-year-old! Where did the time go?
And no matter which birthday, it’s hard to
imagine how truly grown up they’ll become, and how truly fast the time will go.