My daughter, my one and only child, will be ten this winter. Ten. Double freakin’ digits.

And do you know what double digits means? It means the end of the little girl I’ve been holding on to. The one I’d like to stay nine forever. The one that has no idea what growing up means. The one that still believes in Santa and the Tooth Fairy and thinks her mom knows the answer to everything.

It means we’ll be having the “talk” soon. The talk that dispels all the mystery and reveals the secret lives of ADULTS.

I’ll have to explain to her about her changing body. About boys. About sex. And I’ll probably have to top it off with telling her there is no Santa and Tooth Fairy too.

Oh the joys of parenting.

I’ve been holding out this last year in the single digits. Protecting her from reality. Holding on to her innocence. Just. A Little Bit. Longer.

But, the time has come. And I’m still not ready.

It’s been sneaking up on me.

It started with pierced ears and lip gloss. And then training bras.

Then we had a pimple and had to talk about keeping our skin clean and hormones.

Then, it hit me. The looming inevitability that there will be more things. More uncomfortable discussions. More mysteries to reveal. Not someday. But soon. Sooner than I would like.

I hope I do it right. I hope she asks me questions. I hope she isn’t too self-conscious or embarrassed (like I was). I hope she’s comfortable enough in her own skin and confident enough to be OK when changes happen to her.

I hope I have all the answers, but mostly I hope she listens to me and comes to me when she has questions.

I’m not ready.

But I know it’s time. I’ve bought a couple books for us to read together. Props. For her to keep and read on her own again if she wants. For her to giggle about with her friends.

Damn. I’m so not ready.