Becoming a parent to older children seemed to happen over night. One day, Jack and Zoe were small and the next they were grown. It’s like the newborn phase all over again with that glowy haze of uncertainty and moments stockpiled with new discoveries, reaching and moving and learning together. Navigating childhood with Jack has been a journey that’s left me a bit bleary. The challenges and triumphs we’ve faced and overcome together from the very beginning are the essence of life; gritty and yet matched with the unrelenting peace that comes with lessons learned, absorbed. He possesses a quiet wisdom that he’s earned, and he is far beyond his years. My first baby, he has paved the way for his brother and sisters better than I could have ever hoped for them, or for me. Birthdays are a big deal for Jack. In the weeks surrounding January 24th, he is excited and emotional and full of anticipation. Beautifully exhausting. He requested that Hannah, his first real friend since he was just a baby, be at his laser tag party with the 8 other boys he invited. She came, just as she always does, to support him. He received a birthday text message from his best friend from Kindergarten in New York City, another little girl that he built the most special bond with. Both relationships have withstood the test of time and distance, regardless of their age and gender. They are thick as thieves and I sense they always will be. At home Beau and Zoe rally around him. They regard him as the leader of their pack, their guide, their friend. The one that will steer the sibling ship while making fart jokes. He’s fiercely competitive, incredibly thoughtful, compassionate and sensitive so much so that it threatens to deter him. I’m not quite sure what the next chapter holds now that we’re officially big kids, and as much as it aches to see him getting so big, it’s exciting and amazing watching him getting more and more comfortable in his skin. His growing confidence is my soul food. Parenthood is ever evolving. I’m standing in the center of what feels like a merry-go-round. I am a solid, steady source, the anchor around which they are circulating, the highs, lows, and the blur of movement in between. He’s eight now, he is my everything and I have loved (almost) every minute of this journey.