Ten. This one feels different. My birthday boy shot out the front door toward the bus this morning, shaking his hair out of his eyes and yelling something I couldn’t understand behind him as he ran. I’m guessing it was “I love you, I’ll miss you, thank you for giving me life and for being the perfect mom for the last ten years! I appreciate it all, even when I’m being difficult like my dad!” Like I said, I’m just guessing. The boy needs a haircut desperately, but I’m worried cutting it off will make him look ten. I swear last week I was zipping a big puffy coat onto his tiny little body, getting a kiss I didn’t have to beg for before he toddled away, wider than he was tall. Wasn’t it yesterday he would grab my face in both pudgy hands and tell me he liked my eyes today?

Ten is a tough one. Ten is halfway to twenty. Ten is waking up only after several threats. Ten is annoyingly independent. Ten is scarily confident. Ten is please don’t kiss me in front of my friends. Ten is please don’t bring juice boxes to school for my party. Ten is asking Dad for the rifle instead of Santa, because ten is knowing. Ten is watching baseball on the couch while mom holds her breath and tries to soak in this rare cuddle. Ten is messy. Ten is clever. Ten is being a jerk to his sisters, but also tying their shoes and giving them the better nerf guns to defend themselves. Ten is witty. Ten remembers jokes, but giggles hard before giving the punchline. Ten is intuitive. Ten will look in your eyes and ask what’s wrong, even when your happy mask is on. Ten gives the best hugs. Ten seems like an okay place to freeze time.

Happy birthday, freckles. Thank you for making me Mom.