There are moments in parenthood that defy words to describe them, and this must be one of those times, because all I have are the same three words:

Ellie, you’re ten.

See? It’s not enough to convey the gravity of this day. Ten is a decade. Ten years is roughly a third of my life. I thought time was linear, but now I know it’s a thousand tiny loops and whorls of living and remembering and living and remembering.

I remember when you were born; the memories are vivid in places, dull in others. Sometimes it feels like I went into labor yesterday, and today I’m sending you off to fourth grade.

I remember when you turned five, my proud kindergartener marching off to school; that was last year, right? You’re closer to college than you are to babyhood. When did that happen?

The other day you told me, “I’m a pre-teen now, Mama.”

Me, not fully awake. “Uh, no…not quite..”

“Yes, I am. Ten is double digits, but not a teenager, so that makes me a pre-teen.”

Well, when you put it that way…double digits it is. I am the mother of a pre-teen.

You are so big. When I hug you, it’s like I’m hugging a shorter-than-average adult. When you were tiny, I worried I’d break you; I couldn’t snuggle you without fearing I’d hurt you, couldn’t wrap my arms around you and give you a big bear squeeze, but now you’re solid. You take up space. You stand on your own.

You are *you*, and I can’t take credit for any of it, save for the clothes on your back and the food in your stomach (and maybe the constant singing–I’ll take credit for that). We made you out of a couple of wandering cells, and now we get to stand back and watch you become.

Yesterday you were a baby, today you are ten, and tomorrow I will have to literally look up to talk to you. That’s how fast the time flies.

Keep flying, Ellie. The ride is wild, but I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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