Most years my birthday post is written to you as individuals - but this year I'm going to address you all as a group because I think it's your togetherness, and our family teamwork, which has been a theme throughout this past year of your lives.
You always say, "Yes, Mum, we KNOW!" in a very bored voice when I remind you that nothing in life is more important than living by the golden rule - do unto others what you would have done unto you. I am forever reminding you to "just be KIND to one another" and to help one another - because you are so incredibly lucky to HAVE one another in the first place. At this age you think it's just another dorky thing that your Mum says ... but the reality of it is, I bear witness to you helping one another, loving one another, and being one another's support group. That's not to say it's all wine and roses - you are quite capable of annoying one another, yelling at one another, and giving one another a real dose of where-for. I often hear "she kicked me" "he snatched it from me" "she's not being nice"... but then I watch you snuggle together on the couch, or cheer your brother on at a basketball game, or say "good job" when someone has done something right. I think you'll find you love each other no matter how much you make each other crazy - and as a sibling myself, I can promise you that it's true even when you're grown ups.
Your Dad and I have also had a lot to deal with this year, and I'm both proud and embarrassed to say we've needed to lean on the three of you for support. Embarrassed because it's hard to believe that responsible adults need the support of a group of children, and proud because the three of you rise to the occasion each and every time. I've lost count of the times I've just told you that I really could use a hug - and I get crushed in the stampede of arms heading my way. The number of times you don't complain when Dad or I have to work instead of play, the number of times we've just needed some time to ourselves and you've done your best to respect that. Yes, your Dad and I are very fortunate to have the three of you on our team.
This year your household chores have increased, our demands on your behaviour have increased, and your demands on yourself have increased as well. Claire is now dancing twice a week, Julian is now a basketball player and Cub scout, and Alexis is still the bendy-est, flexie-ist gymnast I know. Your school requirements have extended to learning instruments (much to my chagrin but your delight), your responsibilities to our house and pet continue, and in general you've had to become far more involved in your own communities of school, home and shul. It makes me very proud to know that you've taken all of these responsibilities in your stride (and I'll forgive you the complaining.)
I think I'll end this post by telling you about a typical triplet moment in our lives. This morning on the way to school you asked me to tell me the story about the day you were born (a story which you all know verbatim, but clearly it hasn't lost anything in the constant re-telling.) I began my story like this, "The day you three were born was the happiest and most frightening day of my life." Before I could continue, I was interrupted - a frequent occurrence for me. Alexis wanted to know, "But then once we were born you were just happy, right?" Not scared any more?" and before she could finish Claire interrupted and said, "Of COURSE she was happy because we were the most fabulous amazing babies EVER in the UNIVERSE!" and then came Julian, saying, "Wait, wait, wait - Mum! That's not the beginning of the story! The beginning of the story is when you went to the hospital. Did you forget the story? You forgot the story of your own babies being born?!"
I could only smile... because that's pretty much how all our conversations are - with interruptions and questions and debate and endless chatter. In our family you need patience, because it takes us a while just to finish a sentence.
It then took several minutes to answer all the questions and protestations and carrying on... and eventually I started again with saying, "The day you were born was the happiest and most frightening day of my life... but I was only frightened for a while because then you were born, and you were happy and healthy and strong and therefore the most fabulous amazing babies in the universe. But really, I should start this story from the moment I walked into that hospital..." and I continued, all the way until we got to school...at which point you all stayed in the car for several minutes to ask yet more questions and interject with your own versions of this story. You all then tumbled out of the car in a flurry of tangled jumpers and unzipped backpacks and boxes of birthday cupcakes, and you made your way through the school gate.
Julian was the last to leave the car, and before walking away he stuck his head in the open window, smiled and said, "Mum? Did it REALLY happen like that? Or were you just telling a good story?"
Well, Jules, it's like this. Yes, it really happened like that... and yes, it's a good story. Truth is, I love being your Mum because the three of you not only make me a better storyteller, but you make all of our lives a story worth telling in the first place.