I became a mom when I was ten.
No, I didn't actually give birth to Tammy, but I started taking care of her every day during summer vacations after she was born (and sometimes during the school year when the babysitter was sick) as well as being ostensibly in charge of my other sister and brother. Every morning I got her up and changed her diaper, and gave her a bottle, and bathed her in a little yellow plastic tub, and dressed her up, and put her in her swing, or took her for a walk in her stroller, and put her down for naps. And sometimes while she slept, I just stood there and watched her, with her pudgy little cheeks pressed up against the mattress or floor of the playpen.
The night before last Tammy stayed the night with me. She's home visiting during Christmas break from Baltimore, where she is a special education teacher for inner city elementary school kids. She brought me her back issues of Harpers and the New Yorker. Showed off her fancy new MacBook. And later as we lay in bed together in the darkness, I watched her sleeping. Her fair, thin face brushed against the pillow and my teddy bear right next to me.
Yes, I lost my childhood when she was born. But I got something really wonderful in return.