How can he be 10?

“I know it’s only one night’s sleep, but I’ll never be 9 again.”

Those were the final words my son had for me before bed last night. I knew just what he meant. He will not be fundamentally changed when he wakes on his 10th birthday – he will still be smart and funny and athletic and sensitive. He will still be the middle child. He will still have to brush his teeth, put away his clothes, and do his homework.

But 10 feels different from 9.

It feels different for him and it feels different for me. Somehow the passage to double digits marks a shift in childhood. He hasn’t been my fat-cheeked baby for a long time, but he’s still been a little boy in my mind. With age 10, the adjective “little” disappears. He is most definitely my big boy, and that’s tough.

At such a milestone I can’t help but look back. Have I done enough? Have I been the best mom for him? I joke about forgetting the first year of his life, swamped as I was with two babies. Now I think it’s not so funny.  I look back on his baby book and, despite all the parenting advice, compare his slim volume to his big brother’s 3-ring binder. Oh, the mom guilt.

So then I look at the big boy himself. Oh, the mom pride. I marvel at the person he has become. How have we managed to raise such a wonderful kid? He is loved by his classmates and his teachers. He takes pride in his work and his athletic achievements, especially in baseball. Sometimes quiet and reserved, he also possesses a kooky sense of humor we adore.

With all these gifts, it’s easy to forget his sensitivity. I worry about how easily his feeling bruise. His brothers have long figured out the quickest ways to push his buttons. Even at age 10, he can go from smiles to tears in an instant. I take more pride in the way in which he is sensitive to everyone else’s feelings.

Today’s crisis is who to pick as his birthday helper. As the birthday boy, he gets to pick 2 friends to help him pass out treats at school. He is so afraid of hurting someone’s feelings by not picking them. He just doesn’t know what to do. It seems a small dilemma to be sure, but I understand that for him, it’s enormous. I also understand that it is only one of many perceived crises that I will not be able to solve for him.

The trouble with growing up is that, more often than not, you have to solve your own problems. As much as I’d like to pick him up and whisk him away from any hurt, I can’t do that anymore.

He is 10.

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13 thoughts on “How can he be 10?

  1. Both sadly and not so sadly, the gap between your desire to protect them and your inability to do so continues to grow as they get older. You are proud of their accomplishments, of their growing maturity and yet… It never gets easier to watch them struggle and know that the times when you cannot help are more and more frequent. The ways in which they need you change, but they never really go away.

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    • Stepping back and letting them solve their own problems is always a challenge for me, but I’m getting better. The nice thing about parenting is that we are allowed to grow along with them. Thanks Cheri.

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  2. Pingback: ANOTHER SATURDAY…… « Fairy Godsister's Blog

  3. I love this post. My babies, or big kids turned 10 this past October. If it were up to me they would still be in highchairs waiting for me to feed them. But they have to grow and we have to let go, little by little. This is a fantastic post, captures all the feelings we moms have as we look back and look forward. Thank you, yet again. 🙂

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