We were talking about Halloween recently and when I asked the kids what they were thinking of dressing up as this year Riley gave me one of his patented Looks and was like, “Uh, I’m not trick-or-treating, Mom. I mean … c’mon.”

It’s true that he’s crossed the size threshold from adorable to, I don’t know, maybe menacing, depending on the costume. Plus his voice is so deep now (when it’s not cracking like that one Simpsons character) that alone might seem weird. Honey, there’s a large man at the door demanding candy, but he says no Milk Duds because they’ll get stuck in his braces.

I suppose he might change his mind or find some friends who still want to dress up, but in all likelihood last year was it for him. No more knights going door to door. Or cowboys. Or pirates. Or mummies.

You know that saying, “This too shall pass”? I feel like I used to hear that a lot when the kids were really small, and it would always chafe a little: like yes I get it sunrise sunset etc but this shrieking toddler is rabbit-kicking me in my C-section scar right now.

Pretty much everything does pass, of course, but what really gets me is that I never know when something is the last thing until it’s already beginning to fade in the rearview. At some point you realize you haven’t wiped a butt in so long you can’t remember and barring any unfortunate life events there will be no more butt-wipes, and okay that one isn’t much of a heartbreaker but how about being able to cradle your child in your arms, or carry him down the hall to bed, or run your hand over a pillowy dimpled elbow instead of that sharp pokey business.

It’s so hard to find balance between appreciating what is and what was and what is still to be, I feel like the older I get the more I focus on how things get lost and there’s no point to that — after all, no matter how hard you try to hold on, time just keeps pouring through your fingers. Pint-sized cowboys grow up and can use their own bank accounts to buy their own candy and that’s how this all works.

Oh, but it’s hard. I know you know, you with your own kids, your own life rushing along. It can be so hard to say goodbye to what was, even when what’s here is so good.

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Both kids are back in school! I feel like that sentence deserves an exclamation mark and maybe some of those Facebook confetti animations, although my feelings on summer coming to an end are decidedly mixed. I’m not looking forward to the days getting shorter and I am fairly neutral on the growing presence of pumpkin spice flavored whatevers and I am for SURE a little anxious about what middle school has in store for Dylan but hey, both kids are back in school! I can now get my work done without a constant backdrop of CS:GO and/or sibling squabbling, plus our daytime grocery budget can take a much-needed breather. Hooray.

I’m a little shocked and a lot pleased they both allowed me to take their first-day photo, although Riley’s “smile” reveals how much he enjoyed that process:

I do not remember giving Riley permission to turn FOURTEEN (I mean …) but he went ahead and did just that on August 31st.

Fourteen! He has, and I am not making this up, an actual mustache of sorts these days. Not like a luxurious Magnum P.I. lip-pelt or anything, but enough of a scrungy-looking shadow of fuzz that I nag him into — I am STILL not making this up — shaving. I have a giant teenager who shaves, you guys.

That right there is probably more than he would like me to share on the Internet, but I hope I will be forgiven if I also tell you that he is, at fourteen, a very smart and surprisingly responsible human who will teensplain you to death on the reg but will also hold the door for you and laugh appreciatively at your lame jokes.

He likes gaming, music, memes, cats, anything that results in him earning a bit of cash, arguing (if this kid doesn’t eventually become a lawyer or at least join a debate team in high school I think he will have missed a higher calling), crafting various weapons out of wood, staining things with permanent markers (ask me why he’s forbidden to touch a Sharpie ever again until he’s in his thirties, oh wait don’t because it is TOO SOON), Hamburger Helper, frappuccinos, and going to the movies.

It’s hard to believe he’s on the verge of high school, driving, and of course leaving us behind as he starts his own life. I try and remember that, how even the hard stuff is so fleeting. It all just goes so damned fast.

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