Writing the annual birthday post is my favourite blogging tradition (possibly my ONLY tradition) because it really forces me to stop and think about the year just past - and in particular it forces me to stop and think about these three humans I am lucky to be the caretaker of. In a life crammed with pick ups and drop offs, school uniforms which need washing, lunches which need packing, dinners which need cooking, and endless forms which need signing, it's never very easy to find a spare moment to just reflect on our lives together.
This year my children are turning ten years old. I've had them in my life for a decade, which seems like a really long period of time, except that it's really just a very fast blink. Safe to say it's been a decade of change not only for me but for the world at large. For almost all of my childrens' lives, the United States has been at war. They do not know of a world without the internet. A mobile phone whose only function is to make calls is, to them, not really a mobile phone at all. A library with only books and no computers in it is not a library. They don't know what video tapes, cassettes or typewriters are. In their short lifetime, they have witnessed acts of terrorism, extremes of weather, 'rare' events like tsunamis and devastating earthquakes and it does not seem at all strange to them to be able to video call their family overseas. The NEXT ten years of their lives will probably find facebook and twitter obsolete, mobile phones able to cook them dinner, and possibly the Melbourne Demons might finally win a Premiership again (okay, maybe not. But all things are possible, right?). These children were fortunate enough to be born into a world which is constantly changing...and that's a pretty good description of their lives thus far. These three kids are constantly in motion - at their age it's not just about the basketball games they run in, the ballet classes they spin in, and the gymnastics team they bend in. It's about the changes to their bodies, their minds, their spirits which subtlety happen every moment of every day as they hurl towards teenage-hood and eventually adulthood. I can't help but feel a little melancholic about the idea that my babies are not really 'babies' any longer...although they will of course be MY babies for all eternity.
When they were little, I used to read the Triplet Connection newsletter and see pictures of trios in their teens and think...good god, how does one get that far?! I never thought we would make it through their first year with our sanity intact, let alone do well enough to now have the time and peace of mind to write this as we embark on their tenth year. Just goes to show that what looks impossible in the moment..becomes totally possible when you just take it one day at a time. People who ask how I cope with raising triplets always get the same answer - which is - I feed them and I love them, and I maintain a sense of humour. Simple as that.
I'm going back to individual paragraphs this year - because if nothing else, it's their individuality which has shone through this past year and I think it's best to honour that in this post.
My lovely, gorgeous, smiley free spirit Lola (Alexis): You, dear heart, are by far the easiest child to parent (but I suspect both your siblings will someday read this and argue this point mightily.) You are easy to parent because nothing - well, almost nothing - riles you, except of course if Dad and I are far away or you are feeling a little unsure about what might happen next. You have grown HUGE amounts this year - not only have you got the longest legs ever, but you've started to spread your wings and test out the joy of independence. I am pretty sure that it's only the very lucky people in the world who get to feel your love - because to be loved by you is a feeling like no other. You love with every single fibre of your being and you show that love in hundreds of different ways. I've got drawers full of drawings you made "just for me," I've got bruises on my arms from your bone crushing hugs, and I've got the sound of your laughter in my ears from all those times you found something I've said uproariously funny (even when it wasn't.) This year you've found your place in the world - enjoying every minute of Girl Guides, continuing to excel at gymnastics, making friends at your new school and of course being the inventor of the "love cam." Every time Dad and I stop to have a cuddle (which is pretty often, we're saps like that), over our shoulder can almost always be found a giggling little girl whose hands are shaped into a heart, peering through the heart-shaped hole and singing, "OOOhhhh, Mummy and Daddy are in lluuurrvveee!" You, Alexis, are what the world needs LOTS more of and then some - love, joy, and free spirit.
My precious, sensitive little girl - my eldest by thirty seconds - please spend the NEXT ten years of your life being as loving, artistic, and unique as you've grown to be thus far. Continue to not let anyone dictate how you will do things, continue to march to your own tune, continue to make your own choices and be your own person in everything from fashion to food to music. You may be the quiet one, the sensitive one, the one who we ALL underestimate ... but in your quiet thinking moments, your keen observations about human nature, your thoughtfulness, your care and consideration of others - you actually make the most noise of all. Please continue to fill our lives up to the brim with joy and wonder, and remind us of the importance of the simpler things in life.
Boy - who puts up with the most unoriginal nickname of all - came back to me this year. Last year, I lost him, and I'm ashamed to admit that at the time I didn't even know it, because it happened gradually. Boy - or Julz as most people refer to him - disappeared into a world of anger, frustration and irritation. It has been a tough road back for my son, but this year we finally seem to have found the right school for him, and the change has been dramatic. My laughing, smiley, cheeky son has found his place in the universe again - a place with so many friends and activities and excitement that it is occasionally a little overwhelming for the both of us! Julz, you are exactly like your Dad in so many ways - smart as a whip, a true gentleman at heart, a fan of a good feed, and in constant need of a cuddles and love. Lucky will be the woman who captures your heart - for you, my son, are all about heart. The same boy who finds smelly socks funny, who crawls around in the dirt at Cub Scout events, and who tears up a basketball court...has also been known to cry at sad parts in animated films, bawl at the end of a good book, and yell at the TV when you think the judges got it wrong on Project Runway. Oh, my boychick, our lives would be so terribly boring without you in it. You question everything, you push the boundaries, you fight for what you believe in (even when we all know you're wrong), you take charge of things when nobody else will, you're helpful and you're funny and you are...just exactly the kind of boy I always hoped to be able to mother. Recently a friend told me he went to buy you a book for your birthday, and he knew he'd get it right as long as he found something either factual, or funny, or both. I think that pretty much sums you up - the big boy with the big heart and the even bigger laugh.
My sensitive, loving, crazy smart boy - for the next ten years, just keep being who you are, except maybe occassionally break a rule or two. Getting out of your comfort zone once in a while is a good thing. I promise. And as I often remind you, I've NEVER made a promise I could not keep and I am not about to start now (or else you will remind me of this moment forever more.) Continue to learn and grow, continue to question and remind, continue to help and be helped...and continue to love and be loved. It's true that "knowledge is power", but love makes you more powerful by far.
Kiki - ahem, that's Miss Claire The Most Amazing Girl In The World if you please - I'm pretty certain that you were born right under a spotlight. Some children are born under a silver star, some with a silver spoon in their mouths...but not you. You were born standing on a stage, under a spotlight, with an enormous disco ball rotating overhead, and a catchy pop girl power song playing through the speakers. Goes without saying, you were also born wearing some sort of ultra-sparkly, ultra-purple, ultra-FABULOUS outfit..with matching earrings...and nail polish. Even with all of that, you're somehow also the girl who lives in shleppy yoga pants, with a mis-matched t-shirt and who loves to snuggle up in the warmth of sixty five thousand blankets. You are a person of contrasts - the same girl who complains bitterly when I haven't got her fake eyelashes on precisely straight enough for dance competitions is the very same one who will noisily slurp chicken soup, make a mess everywhere she goes and insist on not washing her favourite hoodie for weeks on end. Oh, my Clairis Bo Bearis, so much of parenting you is like looking right into a mirror. We're both stubborn, and loud, bossy, smart, funny, love being right, and always want things our way or no way..and goes without saying, we're awesome. You've got me beat on several levels though - you are far more brave, far more mature, far more confident, and far more in control than I've ever been - and you are only ten years old. You are also one of the funniest people I know - not in so far as your comedic timing (although you've got that, too) - but because you are truly witty, quick and sometimes just downright hilarious with the things you come out with. You are a born performer in every sense of the word.
Missy Claire - as you round the bend onto ten years old - here's what I want for you for the next ten years. Continue to make the world sit up and notice you, and continue to believe in yourself as much as you do. Continue to enter every room with fanfare and a musical introduction and continue to be your own worst critic and biggest fan because both those traits will serve you well to achieve bigger and better things. If I were to ask one favour though..it would be for you to learn tolerance. Not everyone can be in the spotlight, and not everyone wants to be - but sometimes, it's the people who are not the star of the show who play the most important roles. Don't forget that even the shiniest of stars need a sky of other stars around them in which to hang. Your Dad, siblings and I will always, ALWAYS be in the audience cheering you on, showering you with calls for encores and filling your dressing rooms with flowers - just don't forget that even divas need their entourage.
So, my Lola, Julz and Kiki - Happy 10th Birthday. This past year has been a fantastic journey together - in some ways literally as we once again travelled our way around the globe together, and in some ways emotionally as we navigated the highs and lows of the first signs of puberty. For our part, Dad and I have continued to raise you the only way we know how - which is of course with patience, with wonder, with gratitude, with adventure....and of course, with love.
You are about as loved as three children can possibly be...and then a little bit more besides.