People are always asking me if the triplets are a lot alike. Well, yes, as much so as any siblings would be. And obviously, Split and Snap look just alike. But they each have their own personalities, their own ways of looking at and processing the world around them, their own ways of responding to one another and the rest of us.
Today I was watching them playing with Legos, and I was immediately intrigued by the differences in how they play with these brightly-colored little building blocks.
Split is very meticulous with his. He’s all about the process. It can’t just look like a house. It has to be built with the precision he’s worked out in his mind. He barely notices anyone else around him while he’s at work.
Snap is about the finished product…the “tada” moment. He is bothered by someone watching him work, prefers to work alone without distractions, and delights in showing off his end result. He loves the themed sets most of all and wants them to look like the pictures on the box. If they’ve got wheels…well then all the better!
Sweet Pea doesn’t really care about the realism of what she builds. She’s about the colors. The patterns. The sorting. And I love watching her dig for the pretty colors in her big pile of blocks. She can spend forever putting them in color-coded piles, stacking them in color-coded towers, lining up patterns of beautifully contrasting hues.
And Hansel just wants them to hurry up and get tired of the Legos, so he can get off the couch and play with them.
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I know it isn’t normal to be this sad about my kids getting older. I absolutely know it’s not. But what I don’t know is how to turn it off.
I’m a mess.
Every single year it happens, and I’m overwhelmed by the emotions because I don’t know what to do with them.
I try to hide my tears from the kids, because I do not want them feeling like growing up is something bad. I remember feeling so much guilt when I moved out for college. I felt like I was single-handedly ripping my mom’s heart out when I chose a graduate school 1000 miles away. I even felt a flood of guilt over marrying someone and leaving home again for that reason years later. I don’t want that for my kids (and I know my mom didn’t intend for me to feel this way…I guess I was just already messed up back then). I want those joyous milestones of life to be exciting for them.
But how can I stop this deep sadness? So much of my adult life was spent longing for motherhood. I can’t remember ever NOT wanting to be a mommy. I was so fixated on that goal, I couldn’t even see anything else.
And then I became “Mommy” to three of the most perfect tiny humans ever. Everything I wanted ME to be about had been fulfilled.
But it’s all moving SO quickly. They’re 8 today. They only have 3 more years of elementary school with me before they’re off to middle school all day where I won’t see them. Then high school. Then college. And the tears burn my cheeks as I type it.
I think last night I finally figured out a big piece of it.
Who am I and what am I for when they grow up and don’t need me so much?
That’s part of what terrifies me. My personal identity has been so tied up in conceiving, birthing and raising them. I haven’t added any other layers to me. And I feel a deep-seated sense of panic when I think about the future.
Many of you are probably thinking I’m completely off my rocker by now (and you’d be right), but I keep wondering if there is another mom out there who shares any of this. So here I am…laying my guts out here for all to see. Maybe someone will feel less freakish for seeing I’m like them. Maybe someone will reach out to me and make me feel less freakish. Who knows.
Of maybe my children will one day read these words and understand (and perhaps help explain to their therapists) why mommy spent the days around January 21st every year acting like a full-on nutjob.
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