Just like that.

Average height, average girth, nothing extraordinary that would make it stand out amongst the other deciduous trees that line our yard. Early in the fall, I noticed that this one particular tree was the first to turn color. It was the first to signal the changing of the seasons. It was practically the next day when I was parking the motorino in the driveway and looked to see the tree was singing with color.

It was changed. And then it was changed again, just like that.

I am walking through some changes just like this. Flash! Blink! Change. I don't generally mind change that I have willed. But the changes that our children will, even if we're on board with them, have surprised me with how staggering and irreversible they can be.

Take potty training. Let's go there. Little Man just willed potty training, like so many bazillions of children have, and that was that. He enrolled, he learned, he graduated. Bam.

And here I am, just sort of waiting to pick him up from Safety Town and he's all, Mom! I'm over here! See me walking across the stage and grabbing my college diploma! I'm done!

He's changed. He's on the other side. And I'm standing in the empty space in his room where the changing pad and the diapers and and all the other accoutrements that signal BABY ON BOARD used to be. How?

How did I bemoan all these bottles and unctions and wish for an advance to the next phase? Of course. Because I was "done" with it all. Like someone who had big plans for the space that would formerly be known as the diaper changing area.

The leaves have fallen. The diapers are gone. A new season is here, advancing advancing, not returning, only standing tall in the midst of the discard pile. I rejoice and then I mourn. I try to remember how bright those leaves were. I trace through the pictures of those babies, their cheeks like nectarines, whose diaper changes once ruled my days.

I will likely never change their diapers again.

They will never stop changing me.