My oldest child turned 10. My husband and I have been parents for a decade. If these 10 years felt like mere seconds, before I know it another ten years will have gone by and he will be an adult, a man. It is so true what they say, the days are long, but the years are short. I blinked, and he went from being swaddled and eating Puffs to talking to me about girls and playing Madden on his Xbox. Last night after I cleaned up the kitchen and put away the birthday cake, I sat on the couch and flipped through pictures of my son’s first year of life. I looked at pictures of a young couple bringing their baby home for the first time, feeding him his first solid foods, both looking so tired and worn out, but with a little boy who looked happy and loved. I’ll be honest, I got a little weepy. Not out of sadness per say – but weepy from feeling pride, longing, and happiness.

Proud that we are raising a boy that we not only love, but genuinely enjoy being around. A boy that will become a man with a compassionate heart, a loving temperament, and a quick wit. A boy that is kind to friends and strangers, is mannerly, and can laugh at himself. A boy with just enough snark to keep me on my toes. He tries his very best and works hard. All of these things were things that I hoped that he would become, and in these 10 years knowing him, I am starting to see his true character shine.

Longing. I am not even sure if that is the right word, this chapter of motherhood is over for me. There will be no more babies to swaddle or nurse. I will no longer be able to pick him up and hold him close to me when he falls and scrapes his knee. The days of being a mother to a baby are gone, it is sad in some ways just as much as it is freeing. I no longer look at newborns and wish that I had one in my house, but I do feel a bit wistful when I see a new family and remember what a happy that time was for my husband and I.

Happiness in the fact that we have reached this milestone. Not only did we manage to keep him alive for 10 years, but he seems to be thriving! That is not an easy accomplishment. Some days it felt like none of us were going to make it. Happy that his brother and sister get to share in his beautiful life too and learn from him. Happy that we have so many more milestones to look forward to. Graduations, weddings, grandchildren, adventures, a lifetime of happiness having him in our lives.

I would like to say that he was just born this way, sweet and kind and a good person. But in fact, it took a lot of work on the part of his father and I. Not to toot our own horns, by no means are we perfect parents, not even a little bit. Parenthood has taught us that we have to model the behavior we want our children to exhibit. We need to be kind, loving, and supportive if we want those traits to come out in our babies. We need to be generous and thoughtful. Sincere and honest. And by having to model this day after day, we have become better people for it. It has been a gift.

Motherhood has been the best, hardest, most grueling, rewarding thing that I have ever experienced. My heart has grown beyond measure. I have failed. I have had to apologize. I have had to love more than I knew how to do or even thought possible. But I cannot think of a better way to have spent the last 10 years of my life. I am so excited to see what the next decade brings.