Ten. You are ten years old now. I don’t know where the last decade went. It seems like yesterday you were running around without pants on, your diapered bottom padding your fall when you lost your balance. It seems like just last week I was lying on the floor with you placed gently in the middle of your baby blanky when you discovered your toes. Your tiny little giggles were tinkling music notes in our flat, and I couldn’t imagine a day when you would be ten.
I couldn’t imagine a day when your curly, blonde little locks would form a straw straight bob and your icy baby blues would be a beautiful green; your chubby little legs and your chubby little cheeks would turn into long legs and a slender face.
I couldn’t imagine a day when the tear running down your cheek because you fell off the first step learning how to climb the stairs would turn into a tear because your best friend revealed to you that the girls at school think you’re poor. Or the tear that fell the first time someone called you a name because your skin was a different color; the one that fell when you realized that the B-word they were calling you was a bad word. Or the tear that fell when you saw the boy you really liked kiss the girl across the street.
Ten. It’s even more terrifying being on the mom side of ten. At the beginning of summer break you asked me if you were getting too fat for your jeans. They weren’t buckling. The relief on your face when I assured you that you were not fat, your jeans were sized for 8 year olds, but that you were actually quite thin and that’s why they’d fit for so long- it broke my mommy heart in a million pieces. My little girl shouldn’t ever have to worry about what shape she is, about whether she’s thin or fat or short or tall. Because she’s TEN. You won’t really understand that until you have a little girl who’s ten. Which- good Lord willing- won’t be for another twenty five years.
Earlier tonight you tip-toed into my bathroom, my sanctuary, and dared to interrupt my quality alone time by asking, “Can you play with me?” You might not think it’s easy to melt a mom’s heart when she’s sitting on the toilet, but tonight I discovered it’s possible.
Because tonight I suddenly realized that, as quickly as ten crept up on me, it’s not going to stay around for long. I sit here and look at you sleeping, your long black lashes resting above your tan, freckled cheeks, just like I have thousands of nights before, and I think about the day you will be 12. 15. 18. Those days will catch me off guard as well, if tonight is any judge. I’ll listen to your breathing and remember the day you came home from the hospital, my firstborn, and I’ll remember how I sat next to your crib and just watched you sleep- totally enchanted by those black lashes on those creamy cheeks. I’ll think about the day you’re a grown woman and your husband will watch you sleep. I’ll probably pause to go count Daddy’s guns and make sure we’re ready for the day you bring “him” home. And then I’ll think about when you were just ten. And how I wish I could have ten back.
But for now, I just can’t believe you’re ten. Already. Where have the days gone? The weeks and months and years? I hope you’ll remember those days, weeks, months, and years as a series of tiny giggles and warm hugs and big laughs and only one or two of the tears.
And that your mom loved you long before ten and forever after.