The changeover from being the mother of babies and toddlers to being the mother of young children happens with the same kind of subtlety as the change of seasons in North Carolina.
One day you look up and notice there are blooms on the trees, and that the air has a certain balmy quality about it. Spring has sprung. But just yesterday you were freezing, and ruing the long, arduous winter that seemed endless.
All of a sudden, I realized the other day that I am in a different category now. I don't speak baby and toddler any more. I speak little girl and adolescent girl.
It happened gradually, but I hadn't really thought about it or spoken of it out loud until the other day when I was with my daughters at the park. They were riding their scooters, and I was jogging behind them. I asked them if they would like to stop at the play area for a few minutes.
My little one, who is seven, was thrilled. Her older sister, who is eleven, agreed to humor her little sister by stopping and playing with her for a few minutes. When we got there, the park was packed. We sat down on a bench in the shade and observed the crowd for a moment. As far as the eyes could see, there were mothers and babies, babies in strollers, babies crawling, babies trying to walk.
"They're all pregnant," my oldest daughter said without judgment about the mothers - just a statement of fact. The majority of them were pregnant. We sat there for a few minutes in silence, looking at the play area and then looking back at each other.
"I don't think I want to play here now," my youngest said. "Too many babies."
With that, we all got up at once and got back on the sidewalk heading towards home. And as they rolled along ahead of me, I realized that all three of us had just rolled into a new phase of our lives.
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including two on motherhood. She'll be talking about her most recent book, "Girls Gone Child," at 7:30 p.m. April 1 at Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh. Click here for details. You can always find her here on Mondays.