That foot you see on the left is Liam’s foot on November 18, 2000, the day he was born. The right foot is his one-year foot print.  The tiny burrito-sized baby, born two months early and 5 ounces shy of two pounds, turned 10 today.

The doctors predicted possible respiratory problems, developmental delays, vision problems, motor skill deficiencies…none of which came to pass.  Liam became known as the smallest, healthiest baby in the NICU–and it’s still true.  He’s the smallest kid in the fifth grade (boy or girl) by a good few inches – but he also set the all-time gym record in a long-distance endurance run a few weeks ago.

The body that used to fit comfortably in the palm of my hand now barely fits onto my lap and when he hugs me, I can feel his muscles clenching. Instead of a little baby tummy, he’s got the proverbial “six pack” (he looked at Caleb’s tummy and said, consolingly, “you’ve got a four-pack, Caleb,. You can’t get a six-pack until you’re at least eight.”)

The milky-soft baby smell has been replaced, alas, by an odor that would make a long-distance trucker blush, and when he’s in the bathroom, it’s private!

The NICU baby is long gone, I know–and somehow I’ve been a mother now for a decade, and counting (can I say I’ve been mother for sixteen years, given that Caleb is six? These years shouldn’t overlap; they should count sequentially. And if you’ve got more than two kids? Then add up all those years. That’s mommy math).  Mostly I don’t think about those NICU days any more–they’re a decade away, after all–but on Liam’s birthday, I remember that handful of baby and I look at the boy he’s become–really, it’s remarkable that we have this gift of a boy–this boy of remarkable gifts.

Ten! Those tiny feet are ten! I can’t wait to see what’s next on your journey, ten-year-old boy. It’s going to be a marvel, whatever it is.