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This is Childhood: Table of Contents

This is One

You put on little shows for us before bedtime, contorting your sweet face into goofy grins, twirling your small body around and around, delighting in our attention, our inevitable applause.

By Aidan Donnelley Rowley

This is Two

My strong, smart, beautiful girl, my indomitable two-year-old handful, it is an honor to be your mother, to shepherd you and hold you and follow you through your childhood, to bear witness to all that you are and all that you are becoming.

By Kristen Levithan

This is Three

Three is climbing, dancing, and understanding the rules of a game. It’s the “I do it myself” age. Or, as all of my children have said at three: I do it myTHELF.

By Nina Badzin

This is Four

“Do you want me to carry you?”

“No!” He says, as he opens his arms up to me. I reach down and lift my boy. My third child, the only four-year-old I’ve ever deemed my baby.

By Galit Breen

This is Five

Five wears stickers on his shirt, which is getting to be too small and bares a wee bit of belly, Spiderman light-up sneakers, and a face half-painted to look like Iron Man. Five has swagger to spare.

By Allison Slater Tate

This is Six

You’ve brought gum chewing. Without swallowing. You’ve brought the determination to blow your first of a lifetime of bubbles.

By Bethany Meyer

This is Seven

Esther is snuggled in my arms. We are squished together on a chair. Just us, four Pillow Pets, and our cat. “Mom, do you think I’ll ever see a real unicorn, because that is my one big dream, you know,” Esther says quietly as my lips meet her cheek. “I hope so, Esther.”

By Tracy Morrison

This is Eight

As you careen from child to young woman and as you visibly fight your instinct to shut me out with the urge to cuddle in my arms, I am struggling, too.

By Amanda Magee

This is Nine

Yet she still needs. She needs an ally. She needs emotional guidance and unconditional love, strong examples and honesty. A mother with whom she can be herself and whom she can trust. And, thankfully she still needs (and wants) my embrace. I am humbled by this honor of mine.

By Denise Ullem

This is Ten

Ten is a complicated hymn, a falling star, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment in time, an otherworldly flash of green gorgeousness in the dark ocean.

By Lindsey Mead


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