Well, I definitely can't pick him up anymore. He's taller than me, stronger than me, and way way way more hairy. I can't carry him in a front pack or a backpack or in a baby carseat that bangs heavily against my leg. I can't push smelly pureed green beans into his mouth with a tiny spoon, and if he still wore a diaper, it would be a real nightmare to change now.

Today, nineteen years ago on a similarly sunny and crisp fall day, my body completely exploded and then someone said, "Congratulations! It's a boy!" and I made some kind of gurgling howling sound that I could not possibly replicate now without simultaneously having my legs chopped off and Oprah at my front door. Today, CouchTeen enters his last teen year, heading towards CouchMan status. It is one of those surreal things that I still haven't really quite processed. One day, you are you, and then you have this OTHER HUMAN BEING LIVING IN YOU, and then you DON'T but they hang out with you a long time and look and sound sort of like you but are definitely not you. I'm not even kidding -- in like three days time they go from helpless bald kitten to running preschooler to Pokemon-card wielding grade schooler to a child that starts to look like the adult that you couldn't really even see in that baby's face, but tried to see anyway, and then...holy crap, they are that adult. It's all gone too fast for me. I haven't had enough time just to look at him. Can you ever?

But that would be selfish. My job is to push him out, first literally and then figuratively, from the safe and supported into the unknown. It kind of sucks at times, doing the things you have to do. My role as his Lioness Protector comes to mean different things over the years. No one can really tell you that when you first become a parent. You're just trying to keep them healthy and make them smile by making silly sounds, over and over. Well, to be fair, I still do that and he still seems to like it.

Happy Birthday, CouchTeen! Now get off my lawn, sweetie pie.