It begins gradually...
There are no more stinky bottles to be washed out after being found months after being lost in the recesses of the couch.
You pass by the jumbo packs of diapers at the store without so much as a glance and eventually the diaper pail itself gets put out in the trash.
Your clothes stay clean during the day rather than being decorated with a spray of spit up or a smear of peanut butter.
Your daily mothering tasks shift ever so gradually from day-long crafts with your friends while your collective toddlers watch Barney to driving carpools all over creation and hardly ever getting a minute to talk to your friends.
Your children start to bathe and shower without constant supervision.
The bag of books and activities you bring to church starts being called the "church bag" rather than the "diaper bag."
Your mothering duties shift from wiping baby food from high chairs and cleaning up cheerios off the floor to trying to figure out Eagle projects and staying up late into the night to help write reports about foreign countries.
The kids start to "get" the inside jokes you and your husband share and you begin to include them in your discussions.
The world surrounding your children is no longer shared solely by you. They have an alternate universe. School takes them from you for so many hours and they ride their bikes around the neighborhood having discussions with their friends that you will never hear.
Your friend tells you she overhears a group of teenage girls talking about how cute your son is at the movie theater.
Your daughter wears mascara.
Your son requests deodorant when you go to the store.
He gets a Facebook account and the ever so slight hint of a mini mustache appears above his smile.
You chaperon a dance filled to the brim with your kids' friends and although your own children missed the age cut-off to be there, it hits you that they are on the cusp of the whole rigmarole of teenager-hood and dating.
And then BAM! Right there in that sea of teenagers it hits you that it is happening:
That vision you had when your daughter was born fourteen short months after your son...how some day they would thank their lucky stars to have each other so close because on top of all the other fun reasons, they would have friends who "liked" each others' friends and all the adventure that comes along with that.
You come home from the dance to find them sprawled around the family room with friends...boys and girls. You notice a teeny, tiny hint of flirting and you smile to yourself.
Because you realize that your children are becoming themselves.(This is Max learning Chinese from the computer...you should hear him, he sounds awesome.)
...much better selves than you could have even imagined they would be.
And instead of that little fact making you want to shrivel up in a corner and cry because they are growing up too fast, it hits you that you actually love it.
This is going to be a fun ride.