When he was one week old and cried all night and I cried with him, I felt like he would be a newborn forever.
When he was three months old and not sleeping through the night and barely napping during the day and I sagged with exhaustion, I felt like he would be three months old forever.
When he was four months old and obsessed with peek-a-boo and the sound of paper crumpling and laughed at my antics to entertain him, I wanted him to be four months old forever.
When he was 12 months old and unraveled a roll of toilet paper in the bathroom floor and started on another and looked up at me with evidence on his face that he’d consumed some of it, too, I sighed and assumed he’d be 12 months old forever.
When he was 2 years old and tap-danced around his wailing newborn brother’s head and implored me, “Mama, call me Fweet Boy,” I felt like he’d be 2 forever.
When he was 3 years old and pulled a shopping cart over on himself in a parking lot and hit his head and went limp in my arms, I panicked, thinking he would not be 4.
But, when he was 4 years old and he and his younger brother unpotted a potted plant in the den and rained black dirt across the rug right before a Realtor was scheduled to show our house, he came close to never turning 5.
When he was 5 years old and flying down the cement hill of our driveway on a wobbling riding toy, I thought he would probably lose his front teeth forever.
When he was 6 years old and his daddy chased him through the house trying to pull a loose tooth though the boy was happy to let it dangle by one root forever, I knew it would’ve been better if he’d knocked his teeth out on the concrete driveway.
When he was 7 and shooting his BB gun through the cracks in the neighbor’s fence, prompting the neighbor to call and report it, I wished I was 7, too.
When he was 8 and lined up his siblings on the sidewalk and demonstrated the joy of throwing grass at passing cars and I received another phone call from a concerned community member, I feared he would be an 8-year-old reprobate forever.
When he was 9 years old and flunked math because he refused to fill in answers on the timed tests and he whistled and bleeped and chirped to distract other students and the teacher wanted a conference, I thought he would be 9 years old forever.
When he was 11 and Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, died and he mourned the man like a family member, I believed what he’d said at age four about “setting out” on his own and moving to Australia.
When he was 13 years old and quit talking to me and despised everything I said and spent his days stomping, huffing and slamming doors, I thought he’d be 13 forever.
When he was 15 and I was teaching him to drive and throwing up in my mouth every time he swerved or slammed on brakes, I hoped he wouldn’t be 15 forever.
When he turned 18 years old and sat on the stool in my kitchen at the beginning of his senior year and I talked to him about his future plans and explained that they could include anything but lounging on my sofa long term, I worried he would stay on that stool forever.
He didn’t. What I thought would last forever is ending. He’s graduating and heading off to college and who knows where after that, maybe Australia.
But my youngest child just turned 13, and I swear it feels like she’ll be 13 forever.