Once upon a time, a boy was born. He was chub and giggles and endless screaming in the middle of the night. He was 8lbs, 15oz of squish. He was walking before we were ready. He was sweet hugs and cuddles, and tiny hands scratching my back in the wee hours of the morning when he came into our bed.

Someday that little bundle will be a man.

Once upon a time, a boy was a toddler. He was bugs and boogers and potty training mishaps. He was a little shrug of tiny shoulders and leaning his head to the side “Is it?” when he was searching for his toy truck. He was mimicking everything we said and did. He was refusing to swallow the mouthful of eggs he had in his mouth and hating all vegetables. He was my constant coffee date and long struggles in a timeout chair. He was “I do it myself” and pushing a pet turtle around in a dump truck. He was knowing the name of every piece of machinery in his farm book. He was a big brother.

Someday this toddler will be a man.

Once upon a time, a boy was a little boy. He was scraped up knees, and jeans that would last only a week before they were full of grass stains and holes. He was tears on the way to kindergarten and laughter once he was there. He was calling for a glass of water in the middle of the night. He was bedtime stories and songs and “Please leave the light on, Mama.”

Someday this little boy of mine will be a man.

Once upon a time, a boy was a big boy. He was growing faster than I could buy clothes and eating adult meals at restaurants. He was slicked-back hair (that he did himself) and sleepovers on the trampoline. He was bike riding and fort building. He was annoyed at his siblings and protective of them, too. He was an encyclopedia of dog breeds and a student of Wild Kratts.

Someday this big boy of mine will be a man.

Once upon a time, a boy was a pre-teen. He was his first bar of deodorant and showering before we asked. He was tenting in the backyard and owning his first dog. He was part little boy and part teen all mixed into one. He was loving school and hating it, too. He was Harry Potter books and football cards. He was number 11 on his football team and Chick-fil-A after the game. He was friends over after school and eating more than our whole family combined. He was sarcastic and eye rolls, and hugs just to say “I love you, Mom.”

Someday this pre-teen of mine will be a man.

The other night, I sat listening to the boys wrestling with their friends in the other room. They are young men with big ideas and endless dreams. They’re NFL enthusiasts and midnight brownies and popcorn. They’re “please” and “thank you” and whispering cuss words when they think I don’t hear. They’re talking about girls and asking for late-night drives back home because they’re homesick. They’re experimenting with cologne and spending their savings on Cheetos and Skittles.

Someday soon this young man will be a full-grown man, but he will also always be my baby, my toddler, my little boy, my big boy, my pre-teen, my young man and my son.

He is growing like a weed, and every day his face is more mature and his eyes older. I can hardly believe I’ve been entrusted with this precious soul that one day soon will be grown. I pray the countless nights spent rocking, the countless evenings spent reading, the countless meals spent talking will stick with him forever. I know they will stick with me.

He’s only been mine for a little while, and he’ll only be mine for a little bit longer.

Someday soon, my little boy will be a man.

I can’t wait to see what he does with his life. I hope and pray he makes waves and ripples with the good that’s in his soul, and that he holds nothing back from being the man I know he’s meant to be.

Watch out world, he’s coming for you.

This article originally appeared on Wonderoak

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Jessica Johnston

Jessica Johnston is a writer and mom of four kids. She is an avid coffee drinker, risk taker, and TMI sharer. She is a firm believer in keeping it real and believes our imperfections bring us together. She writes at https://wonderoak.com/. You can follow her there, on Facebook, and on Instagram.