The boy that made me a mom will turn ten this month. Three days ahead of my own birthday.

I carried him in from the car yesterday. I haven’t done that in years.

(If you follow me on Instagram over here, you already saw the photo. I was determined to record the moment.)

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I carried him in and his long limbs wrapped around me and I could hardly wrap my head around the fact that they used to live curled up inside me.

For every mom in the trenches of sleep deprivation and diaper changes. For every mom who has given up hope of ever feeling well rested again, ever eating a meal while it’s still warm, ever wearing clothes not covered in spit up, ever leaving the house without a diaper bag the size of a house.

This one’s for you.

My tiny baby boy that I grew in my own body and who hurt so bad to push out, the boy I named Jackson Jo, he will turn ten in three weeks and it’s the best.

This amazing stage. Why did nobody tell me how much better it gets? I mean everyone probably told me and I was too deaf from exhaustion to hear them.

But I can’t get over this stage where I’m so fascinated by the human beings my kids are becoming. Here’s the thing — big kids are so. much. fun. Yes, it’s true.

They’re interesting and engaging and funny. They can pick out their own clothes and wipe their own heinies and buckle their own seatbelts. They have opinions. Sometimes they have big opinions.

And it’s this gift to watch them open their mouths and all this life and discovery comes pouring out of them. It’s impossible not to get swept away by it. It feels like some kind of magic that these three tiny humans of ours are now walking and talking their way through the world and we get to be along for the ride.

I didn’t know this is what came next.

After a decade of sleep deprivation I didn’t know there’d be all this fascination¬†waiting on the other side. All these unique conversations around the dinner table about the life span of koi fish and the various poison levels of different snake species. I didn’t know that I’d learn more about soccer from my nearly ten-year-old than I’ve ever learned in the last 40 years of my life. I didn’t know he knew so much.

Turns out my kids are funny with a wry sense of humor. And always with the fart jokes. But that they’re also deeply curious about faith and why we believe all the things we say. They push me to keep figuring out better answers. For them but more and more for myself.

We don’t get any news channels at our house because the news shows terrify them. The headlines are enough to make anyone think we’re just days away from the apocalypse. So news has to come through us and we process it together. There’s been a lot to process the last year, hasn’t there?

It hurts to watch the words leave your mouth and change your nine-year-old’s face as he pushes back from the table, slamming a tiny fist and yelling, “But why would they do that? That’s racist! That’s not OK.”

Kids don’t walk away from a conversation and leave it on the ground. They carry it with them. They live it. They process it over and over again in their minds. My seven-year-old spent days trying to figure out what he would have done if a friend of his was pushed to the ground outside their local swimming pool and manhandled by the police.

These are the things we’re talking about. Because we can. Because they’re old enough. Because the world is still brand new to them and they keep asking us to translate it for them. With every conversation or question or discovery or challenge – they’re asking us to wrap language around the emotions they’re feeling.

We parents help them decode the world around them. And living like this human translator is untwisting a lot of my own thoughts. Sometimes, though, it twists them right back up again. Because my kids will ask questions stripped down to the naked bone. They won’t buy a lie.

So when my son wraps his limp limbs around my hips as I hike him into my arms and out of the car I’m weighed down by the weight of the mystery in my arms. How did we get here? To this tender place where he doesn’t need me for milk or oxygen anymore. But where I’m still his lifeline. It’s so holy to hold all that in your hands. To shoulder through his bedroom door and lay him out on the bed beside the soccer balls and the blue bear lovey he’s had since he was three.

This is what comes next. This walking around in the shoes of our kids and rediscovering the world in a way we’ve never seen it before.

It’s coming, moms. All the movie nights and shared popcorn and road trips that you can actually survive; might even enjoy. All the sacred secrets and pockets full of treasure. All the questions about love and what that feeling is in your tummy when the girl you’ve known since kindergarten sits down next to you in third grade.

So much more than you poured out is about to come rushing back into your life filling you up so fast and so full that it will spill out of you until you’re smooching your kids in public despite their horrified embarrassment.

I believe they call them the glory days, yes?

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This is the second in my ten days of back-to-blogging series. Read day 1 here.

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