Contrasts and Kinship


Maxwell works on some career development, perfecting a superhero stance.


Olivia takes aim at her target. Will the 2020 Olympic games be ready for this archer?


Hannah and Star await the judge’s score.

My husband and I are the grateful parents and patrons of three unique, inquisitive, comedic, dramatic, clever children. And while they share a mother and a father, they have little else in common. It’s true, their feet and butts look like their father’s, and their eyes and lips take after my own, but their preferences and predilections span the spectrum, a lovely rainbow of personalities festooning our home.

Finally five, my only son Maxwell evolves daily from my baby into a real kid, kindergarten luring him away from the comfort of this mommy’s arms. He’s a wild man, determined to exact revenge on his relentlessly teasing older sisters. But he knows when to switch on the sweetness, inducing amnesia and effectively erasing his acts of terror with wide eyes as deep and blue as the summer Atlantic. He worships super heroes and their powers, watches anything with ninjas, and wants to be Spiderman when he grows up. He’s 100-perecent boy. And although he’ll never admit it, his admiration burns brightest for those diligent tormentors, his sisters, who he emulates even more than he frustrates.

A free spirit abides unbridled in Olivia, who’s changed her hair color so many times, I can’t remember its natural color. She rocks to her favorite song “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes; she loves horror movies, declaring “The Exorcist” the funniest movie she’s ever seen; she’s an actress, an artist, and an archery enthusiast. Oh, and she’s 12. She’s one of the most fascinating people I know, displaying insight and creativity with no concern for the conformity that so often dictates a middle school girl’s every move. When she was five, she declared that she would be a school bus driver during the day and a Chinese restaurant girl at night, displaying an eclectic range of passions even at that young age. I am sure that Olivia will achieve any goal she sets for herself, although I had to break her five-year-old heart when I told her she would never be Chinese. But if anyone could do it . . .

Hannah holds the title of “oldest,” a designation I carry, as well, although my parent’s brood numbers six. Typical of the eldest child, she’s focused, driven, and holds high standards for everyone she meets, but none higher then those she expects of herself. Hannah emerged from the womb with a love for animals, specifically horses. Now 14, when she’s not riding or grooming or training, she’s studying, determined to make it to Cornell, where she’ll pursue her own dream of becoming an equine vet. While my meager Virginia College Savings Plan remonstrates this Ivy League aspiration, my mommy pride swells. I’ve little doubt she’ll do exactly what she’s planned, of course while preparing for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in either Tokyo, Istanbul, or Madrid. I don’t have to push Hannah; she pushes enough for both of us.

Genes are funny things. That different traits of my husband and me express themselves so uniquely in each of our children amazes me. An infinite number of phenotypes in the deck and our draw: these three beautiful creatures who change, challenge, and charm me every day. I never know what’s coming next.

It’s beautiful. Seriously.

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