Will's eyes positively light up when he sees his friend Jim coming up the sidewalk on weekday mornings. The two trot off to school in lockstep with one another like they're off on some grand adventure. (A little freedom will do that to a kid.)
The sight of those boys lifts me up and makes my heart swell ... but, I've got to admit it also takes my breath away.
You see, up until three weeks ago, Mike or I would walk Will to school. Usually those walks were just part of a regular routine. But some days, that short walk up the block gave me a special glimpse into a nine-year-old boy's world.
The first day Jim showed up at the door and I watched the two of them skip up the street, it automatically made me think about his first day of kindergarten. That was the day Will walked away and never looked back ... and I left the school and cried the whole walk back to the house.
Back then, I never let him see me cry because I knew that was his day: A time of new beginnings and endless opportunities and adventures.
Those are the same reasons why I smile and laugh now as Will and Jim take off every morning on their own.
And yes, I think to myself ... this is just the beginning of oh so many steps.
Julia is the mom of a grade schooler and a reporter for WRAL-TV. She appears here monthly.