When Seth was born, all of a sudden, I was a mother. A mother of a beautiful baby boy. I remember a friend on campus admiring our family of three, thinking lovingly back to her own early days in the beautiful bubble of first-time motherhood. I thanked her, but secretly was thinking that time was going to go so blessedly slowly for me - I'd never outgrow that stage of sleepy, milk-drunk, trusting, snuggly slumber.
When Evan was born, I was a mother of two. Two boys. Brothers, who would be able to share clothes and interests.
When the girls were born, not only was I a mother of girls - identical twins nonetheless - but I had four kids!
Now that two plus years have passed, we have more or less adjusted to having four children. Jason doesn't wake up in the night anymore thinking, "Wait, we have twins! We have four kids!" But what I am finding is that I have the unique pleasure of wearing different nametags, so to speak, at different times in the week.
Sometimes, when I am taking Seth to a gymnastics class or a guitar lesson, I am a mother of a seven-year-old. No diaper bags, just a grown-up boy and his interests. We talk, we smile over shared memories, we take special field trips, we play baseball, and we work on school projects.
Sometimes, when I am with just Evan, like in the afternoons when Seth is at school and the girls are napping, I am the mother of a four-year-old, an exuberant, mercurial pre-schooler. I decipher his stories about his day, we play games, we do crafts, we cuddle, and he shares the things that make him happy and the things that make him sad.
Sometimes, when I am with both boys, I am a mom of two. Embracing shared experiences, mediating disagreements. A multi-tasked, a peace-keeper. We take adventures together, we build with Legos, we settle disagreements, we snuggle and read books at night.
Sometimes, when the boys are at school and I am just with Nora and Maya, I am a mother of young children - twins! I get to experience those first milestones all over again. We take walks, we go to story hour and music class, we meet up with other friends with young children, we have play dates with our other twin friends.
And sometimes, I am a mother of four. With all the sticky-fingered chaotic beauty that title encompasses. I keep the peace, I lose my patience, I hand out goldfish, and I wipe noses. But sometimes, if only for a fleeting moment, I sit back and watch. I watch them as they play "camping" in the girls' bedroom; I watch them as they build together with magnet tiles; I watch them read to each other; I watch them snuggle on the couch while watching a video.
And I know no matter what combination of children I am mothering at any particular moment, my identity has a beautiful ribbon woven right through it - my four children. I am not defined by my role as their mother, but being able to mother them makes me richer, more compassionate, better able to appreciate the beauty in the everyday. As my identity evolves and grows, that ribbon will remain a constant. Motherhood is an ever-changing, constant blessing.
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