Halfway to Adulthood: Why 9 Has Been The Hardest Birthday Yet

Last week, my oldest son turned 9.  Nine.  To be honest, I never expected 9 to be a hard birthday as his mom.  Watching all four of my babies turn 1 was rough; knowing that I’d never refer to them in “months” again (unless you’re one of those moms who calls her 4 year old a “48 month old”…but that’s another blog post for another day), knowing that they were closer to toddlerhood than they were to the newborn stage, and knowing that they would be needing me less and less as the days and months moved forward.

Five was hard for me, too.  I’ve had three babies turn 5 (one just a few weeks ago), and that was a big milestone for me as a mom.  They’ve started Preschool, or sometimes Kindergarten, by then.  Their chubby cheeks and baby-fat have nearly all disappeared.  They have personalities, they can express themselves, and they can (usually) walk away from me with a backpack on their back and spend at least half of their day in the care of someone else.  Five was a milestone.

So, I assumed, the next major milestone would be 10.  Double digits.  Nearly finished with elementary school.  DOUBLE the age they were when I last broke down about their birthday number.

And then, about two months ago, it hit me.  NINE.  Nine is half of eighteen.  (Of course I already knew that basic math fact, but I never applied it to my motherhood journey until that moment.)  We are halfway there.

Halfway to graduating high school.  Halfway to spreading his wings and leaving the nest.  It’s funny, they always refer to “empty-nesters” as those who’ve watched ALL of their kids leave, but just thinking about that moment of my FIRST one leaving makes this nest feel emptier already.

And so, to those of you with newborns…it DOES go fast.  It really, truly does.

To those of you whose babies are turning one, take #allthepictures and remember this milestone for your little one and for you, as their mama.

To those of you with five year olds, you have reached another big one.  Your at-home days have come to an end, and when they walk into that giant building with that backpack that is bigger than their torso, they are (in a way) leaving your full-time care forever.  My only advice for day 1 of Kindergarten? Sunglasses.

To those of you with nine year olds, HOW DID WE GET HERE?! Was he not just a newborn? Was he not just having his 1st birthday party? Was he not just walking off into the big school for the first time?  Is he REALLY halfway to leaving-the-nest age?

And to my boy.  My sweet, sweet first boy…

It has gone so fast, buddy.  So incredibly fast.  But at the same time, I have cherished every milestone (even the hard ones), I have loved becoming a mommy (and now “mom”) with you by my side.  And I know that these next 9 years will be just as fun, if not more fun, than the last.  I am so proud of the young man you have become, of the sweet big brother you are to your three siblings, and of the caring friend you are to others.  

Cheers to 9 years together, and cheers to 99 more.  I’m so happy to be your mom.


Sara and her husband Matt (sweethearts since they were just 16) got married in 2007, and since then have welcomed four beautiful children (Sam in 2008, Cooper in 2010, Nora in 2012, and Adam James in December 2015). A born-and-raised Iowan, Sara received both her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees (in Spanish Literature) from the University of Iowa. She's still teaching Spanish wherever and whenever she can, but her true passion is owning Iowa City Moms and building this community alongside her amazing team. Sara is also the Community Engagement Coordinator for City Mom Collective, and the owner of Cowork Collective downtown Iowa City. Common denominator in all of these jobs: community, community, community.


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