Last weekend we celebrated Shane's ninth birthday, and for me as his mom, I found myself experiencing a whole range of emotions during this time.

Mark, myself and Shane all piled into the Jeep and took off for a day filled with all the things a nine-year-old boy would love, including a trip to the Sports Center in Hermon for an afternoon of arcade action and "big ball" bowling.

I think it was the bowling that really got me thinking about how much Shane really has grown over the last year. When we all went bowling at the same place last year, Shane required the assistance of the wooden ramps used to help beginners get into the game because even the lightest weight balls were simply too heavy for him to manage on his own. He would very carefully set the ball up on the top of the ramp and slowly roll the colorful orb down the ramp, after which it would take almost forever to reach the end of the lane and take out a few of the pins.

He was so proud of himself!

This year, Shane announce upon our arrival that he would not be needing the ramp this year because, after all, he's nine now.

I cautiously accepted his new reality, while silently going through a few horrifying scenarios in my mind that largely had to do with the ball flying out of Shane's hands and knocking an unsuspecting fellow bowler unconscious.

But I had to let him try.

So we went together to select our bowling balls, and found a really lightweight one for Shane that featured five tiny holes instead of the typical three-hole configuration seen on most. It seemed to be a perfect fit for Shane, and I felt a little better about his new-found confidence.

At first he needed a little guidance on how and when to release the ball, and his form was a bit unusual in that he would hold he ball and begin his stride toward the alley, and as his steps grew quicker, the ball seemed to dangle further and further behind him, but he got the job done. I will admit there were a few occasions that I cringed when it looked as though Shane may have overshot a little — there was one time the ball came uncomfortably close to hopping the gutters and rolling down a neighboring lane.

But his approach improved with every turn, and he even got a strike. Then, when a family with two young boys set up their game in the alley next to us, Shane really showed me how much he has grown.

As one of the boys toddled over to take his turn, Shane suggested he try using the ramp, as he used to do when he was a beginner. The boy's father retrieved the ramp, and the little fellow gave it a try, knocking down several pins for his first turn.

"That was a great job," said Shane, as the younger boy walked back to his mom with a big smile on his face.

I was so proud of him!

And he continued to display some nice big-kid behavior throughout the evening, encouraging the younger kids to keep trying, and doing a dance of joy when someone did well.

While I was so pleased to see what a nice young man he is growing up to be, it made me a little sad to think, for example, that this is Shane's last single-digit birthday. That means he really is not a little kid anymore, a fact that he reminds me of often. Once the next nine years have passed — which judging by how fast the last nine years went by, that shouldn't take that long — we will be thinking about high school graduation and preparing him for college.

But I can't let myself think like that for too long. It is too sad for me to think of the day when he'll be all grown up and ready to leave home, a young man ready to conquer the world armed only with the tools I've tried to provide him with all this time.

Instead, I will try to make the most out of every day I get to spend with him now, while he is still growing and learning. I know how quickly time flies, and it's revelations such as the one I had over the weekend that remind me how important it is to appreciate this time, right now.