16 days old.
That's the age of the precious bundle that cuddled against my chest when I held her on Thursday.
She's not related to me, but she's absolutely "family".
I wonder what she's thinking as her eyes flutter in her sleep and her soft breaths pick up pace - how much of this world she's processing.
Holding her is a taste of Heaven on earth - a moment of bliss that we all never thought we'd experience.
I can't imagine a thing I wouldn't do for this girl - and know that her parents, proudly sitting nearby, would, and already do, give up everything for her.
10 years old.
Mikayla's age. Four days away from beginning her final grade of elementary school. How did this happen?
The older she gets, the more I see reflections of me shine from her. The positives (the love for all things "planning"!) and the negatives (the propensity to worry).
But, when she looks in the mirror, her physical reflection looks nothing like me - her blond her, blue eyes, lean physique. Certain poses, certain pictures - make me wonder of the trail of boys who's hearts she might break when she could still care less about any of them.
I'm going to miss her as she returns to school and I lose my daytime buddy. One part little girl, who still likes to pout, whine, and do whatever it takes to get Mommy's attention; one part young woman who I can pour my heart to, laugh with, and navigate important decisions.
13 years old.
The age of our oldest - Brayden, better known as Phineas during the summer. One more year before he enters high school.
He drove me nuts this week, and I wasn't above pulling out the guilt trip to get him to treat me better. He was stretched in every direction - as a counselor apprentice at Harlow with all of its levels of responsibility, as an athlete trying to keep up with teammates over twice his size, and as an 8th grade boy - with so little staying constant in terms of friends, feelings, and future.
I'm so thankful for the other young men in his lives, to offer support, to laugh with, and to "just be boys" - the path he's on right now is not one I can navigate by his side.
I want to shield him from the pain of duplicity and betrayal from those he's trusted, from the expectations of coaches who want more than he can give, and from the weight of school responsibilities - not to mention the successes of those around him that would make him feel less-than.
But, that's not my job - instead, it is to just let him know how remarkably proud we are of him, for his character, for his spirit - and how our love will always be a constant he can count on.