The tears flow not because Will has aged another year. I recognize that every circle made 'round the sun is a gift, our time on earth is finite, and growing older is a privilege not afforded to everyone. Instead, I cry because as of today, we are beyond the midpoint.
Childhood and parenthood do not suddenly cease to exist when children turn 18. But both, at least as we know them, come to an end around the time our "babies" graduate from high school and move out on their own. As a 10-year-old fourth grader, Will is now closer to the end than he is to the beginning of childhood. And I, as his mother, am closer to the end than I am to the beginning of mothering him within the safety of my home.
Halfway...come and gone in the blink of an eye.
Spotting the "little" in my boy has become incredibly difficult, not just because he can make his own meals, vacuum his own room, and stay home alone for short periods of time, but because he doesn't look little anymore. His haircut, his face shape, his leg and arm and stomach muscles - none of them belong on a little boy.
All of those muscles are the result of playing soccer four days a week; Will loves the sport, and sharing this passion with him brings me tremendous joy. I can think of nothing I'd rather do than sit on the sidelines - with my lips zipped tightly shut and my hands stuffed in my pockets so I don't say or do anything I shouldn't - and watch him play. He also enjoys running (definitely not something we have in common), Tae Kwon Do, swimming, disc golf, chess, math puzzles, drumming, and video games.
I don't know when young people officially reach the rank of "tween", but my guess is that it's somewhere around age 10. Will has begun to respectfully but firmly question my decision-making and look for loopholes in my reasoning. He listens to me a little less, and to the voices around him - those belonging to his teachers, his coaches, his friends, and the media - a little bit more. He feels the emotions associated with this stage of life deeply, and when they layer on top of homework, tests, sports, and family dynamics (ahem, sibling relationships), they occasionally get the best of him. As I expected from him at this age, Will is pushing the boundaries and spreading his wings and then - thankfully - swooping back around for a comforting hug and a few words of encouragement and reassurance.
I have loved every stage of parenting my boy more than the last. So now, as we transition from little boy to tween and the end of elementary school looms ominously in the not-so-distance future, I hope that the best really is yet to come...and that "the best" helps me forget that two whole hands means we've inched one year closer to the finish line.
Happy 10th birthday, Will. I love you to the moon and back plus infinity times a million with a cherry on top.
Will's birthday is actually tomorrow - October 4th (though he should have been born before/on October 3rd given the fact that I went into labor at 11am on October 2nd) - but I wanted his post to go up a day early. He deserves an extra day of love and attention this year.