Individual Time For My Individual Kids
Do you know what one of my biggest fears was when I was pregnant with triplets? Group think. I was worried that these three little individual beings would lose their identity because they were “the triplets.” Worried they would be grouped into the same category. Worried that people wouldn’t bother learning their names because there are three of them! It kept me awake with anxiety some nights. And then I would have anxiety on top of that because I wasn’t sleeping and I needed rest for the babies to grow and be healthy and around and around we go in the #pregnancyanxietycycleofstressandmoreanxiety. Oof.
Because of this initial worry, a few things have evolved. I rarely call them “the triplets.” Before my youngest was born, I called them "the babies" and now, “the older kids” when talking about all three. I tried to emphasize and praise the moments when as toddlers, someone liked or didn’t like something that the other two did. I was always looking for ways to celebrate otherness among them.
We celebrate the day they came home from the hospital and call it their “Special Day.” Birthdays were a big deal in my house and I loved having my own day. So they each get their own day of a present or two and dinner of their choice with mom and dad.
So there’s my background and effort for this thing of singularity among triplets.
A few weeks ago, my daughter planned a bike ride for us. She is all about making plans, especially on the weekend. “What are we doing today?” “Are we going out to lunch this weekend?” Weekends are special for this busy crew of seven. We all look forward to it.
So Sunny planned a bike ride after her dad and brother expressed interest in watching the NCAA playoff game that day. She talked about it all day. 6pm was the time we would roll away together. My other son loves to ride his bike, so he asked if he could come.
“Of course!” I smiled. I love both my kids and of course he could join us on our bike ride!
Sunny immediately welled up in tears, sunk her shoulders and walked away. She tends to be a bit dramatic and I was cleaning up lunch dishes and doing 100 other things, so I rolled my eyes (to myself) and went about my business. She would get over it once we were all outside and on our way.
A few minutes later, my husband approached and told me that my son had agreed to stay home after all and it would be just a girl bike ride. Cool. Back to dishes and 100 other things I wanted to do before we left.
So we left for our bike ride, my daughter in good spirits. We had been riding and chatting for a few minutes when she tells me she has something for me and wants to stop somewhere so she can give it to me. I have this favorite spot on our route where we can park our bikes on a little path and make our way across giant rocks and look out to the ocean and this little island with twin lighthouses.
We parked our bikes, held hands and happily chatted about how windy it was and we hoped we didn’t blow away. Her cheeks were already pink from the crisp spring air and wind. We pointed out tide pools and imagined the waves splashing right where we were standing if it was high tide. Then she squeezed my hand and began to fiddle with her zipper pocket on her coat, trying to pull something out. It was incredibly windy where we were standing on those rocks, on the edge of the water, so when I realized it was a piece of paper, we huddled close together, a makeshift shelter between us for the small piece in her hands.
“Here mom,” she said with a sly smile. “I wanted to give this to you.”
It was a half piece of paper that said to: Mom, from: Sunny. She had written me the most beautiful little note about how much she loved me, thanked me for making dinners and doing laundry and she told me I was athletic. We had stopped for ice cream all together earlier that day and the note said “I love you so so so so so so so so much more than ice cream!” We joke a lot about how she loves ice cream more than anything.
I hugged her and quietly sobbed into her wind blown hair. I felt a little shame about brushing off her dramatic display about her brother wanting to come. She had this not presentation planned all along, which she went and told her dad, who then talked to her brother, who understood and agreed to stay home.
I felt seen. I felt appreciated and seen in a way that was palpable and so genuine. I felt unique and special, like I mattered. I wasn’t just grouped into some “mom” category. I was her mom. Her "athletic" mom! And to think I almost missed out on this very important reminder that individual time spent together is so important, for triplets and, well, everyone.
How do you make time for that one on one time for special people? It’s not easy! I want all your tricks!