Category Archives: family life


We are currently on the road home from nyc.

A couple of observations:

Hour 1 – snack (actually it’s more like Minute 1). Everyone is excited to go home except #4 who asks, “Where we going next now? Disneyworld?”

Hour 2 – 4 out of 5 sleep. #5 is the one wide awake crying.

Hour 3 – #5 is still a mess while the rest are passed out. My heart is breaking so we stop. Pee break for everyone. #3 says, “My head hurts so I think I need to eat something salty like fries.”

Hour 4 – 1 out of 5 sleep. Of course. #1 has her IPod on. #2 is wondering where we are and exactly how long it will take to get home and is fixing her pillows and blankie over and over again which brings us to #3…who is super-irritated with #2’s rearranging and who has invented a new word again: coverment. This is the sweater she has hung on her window like a curtain to keep the sun out (and her head hurts still so she thinks that having a chocolate sprinkle donut may cure it since she’s finished her fries and her headache lingers). #4 is whining for my arm to hug so she can go back to sleep. I tell her 5 more hours and she says, “Ok Mama.”

Hour 5 – I give in and play Miley Cyrus.

Hour 6 – Another pit stop. #3 proclaims, “I need more coolness.” Meaning she’s hot and needs the AC on.

Hour 6.5 – Victory! 5 out of 5 asleep. Enjoying peace and quiet as I write this.

(3 more hours to go!..)

atypical morning.

We’ve settled

We’ve settled into a nice


We’ve settled into a nice little a.m.

We’re trying to settle into a nice little a.m. routine

We’ve settled into a nice litt

Who am I kidding?  Every time I’d like to say that we’ve settled into a nice a.m. routine, we get completely thrown off and our previous routine gets thrown out the window.

I wanted to blog about a typical morning in our house.  Is that so much to ask?

Apparently in our household it is.

This is what our routine looked like after #5 was born in the fall/winter:

Ever-Patient wakes everyone up except #4, #5, and myself.  He gets them ready and off to school/preschool activities.  Everyone is silent as NO ONE wants to wake up Mama, the baby, or especially #4.  I say a little prayer each night that #4 and #5 sleep in just a little bit. It’s a mystery to me what goes on between 7am and 9am. (Big props to Ever-Patient during those crazy months!)

This is what our routine looked like in May as I had just settled into a routine with the baby:

Besides Ever-Patient who sets his alarm for 5am to begin his own morning rituals, the rest of us normally rise with the sun.  #2 is up first and with an almost ninja-like stealth, she slips downstairs to hang with her dad and get some alone time.

There is no hustle and bustle.  No rushing.  No fighting over the bathroom or scarfing down a quickie breakfast.  No scavenging for last-minute needs for school.  No yelling (unless the blender is on).  Even when we do get a slow start in the morning, I concede that we’ll be late for school and we all still take our time.

It wasn’t always like this.  At one point, there was always a mad dash up the stairs and down the stairs, a last-minute search for an article of clothing, and some sort of begging on my part to finish breakfast faster, change faster, brush faster, and just get out the door faster.

We sit down to a daily breakfast of eggs and sausage and fruit or oatmeal and a smoothie – all 7 of us together at the dining table.  I write some love notes for the lunches, sign some permission forms, and away they go.  If #3 has her preschool morning class that day or gymnastics, #4 and #5 spend the morning together like this:

#4 serenades #5 after breakfast and he kicks his feet and smiles.  Yay for a regular routine!

I had just gotten used to the May/June mornings when suddenly, the girls were out of school and in full lazy summer mode.  As bedtimes crept later due to extended hours at the beach, soccer games, and dinners outside, morning routines changed.  Ever-Patient still went to work at the same hour but the kids were sleeping in until 9:00am and sometimes until 10:00am even!

This is what our routine looked like in July:

Due to the extreme heat and an old house, we all slept in the basement to keep cool.  Because it is so dark, there was no waking up with the sun.  There was a lot of sleeping in and a lot of: “Mom, can we just stay in our pajamas and eat breakfast down here?  It’s TOO hot upstairs!”

The kids were only motivated to get up if we were meeting up their cousins or heading somewhere where they would be able to cool down, like a pool or a well-air-conditioned facility.  They felt sluggish and irritable whenever they had to endure the heat for a prolonged period of time.  They wanted ice cream for breakfast because hot food was making them hotter. We compromised and I made them yogurt with fruit or smoothies.

Clean-up time came after breakfast.  #1 and #2 hadn’t been home all year to experience this ritual of mine so it was a tough adjustment.  Everyone had to help with the baby or help clean.  This was said frequently, “I am NOT a maid.  I am your mother and this is OUR house.”  They soon learned that the faster everyone helps, the faster we can move on with our day.

Despite the late wake-ups and sluggish starts to the morning, I enjoyed the snail’s pace and the total unawareness of time (and day for that matter!).

Then of course, things changed in August:

#5 is keeping me up again as if he were a newborn.  His teething is making him miserable.  He is a cranky old man stuck in a 9-month old body.  He’s getting those mild fevers at night and has a lack of appetite for solids.  I am grateful that we froze a ton of leftover french toast slices a few weeks ago because that is what #1 is making for breakfast every day for her and her sisters since #5 has not let me put him down without screaming.  Then we hit the grocery store because for some reason, being surrounded by thousands of consumable items while sitting next to his big sis in the cart calms the baby.  So we’ve been there every day this week hanging out with our favourite cashiers: Lorraine, Lorna, and Heather.  We cruise each aisle, talking about food, and trying on clothes in the clothing department.  We chat with other customers in line and sing along to the Top 40 songs playing on the speakers.  I want to take pictures of our grocery store adventures but the kids think that’s a little weird.

The moral of the story?  Routine or not, it’s all ok.  It’s ok to have french toast every day until you don’t.  It’s ok to wake up and have breakfast together as a family until you can’t.  It’s ok to stay in pajamas for as long as mama will let you until she won’t. Letting go the idea of having “typical” mornings has allowed me to be embrace a general rhythm of our family.  Although the exact details of how we approach mornings may change, we always adapt together and reconstruct our mornings (and our days and nights) together.

Take a look at your mornings…do you have a routine that needs to be shaken up?

i wish i may…i wish i might…

After a super-busy weekend, the kids woke up yesterday completely burnt.  They wanted a lazy day but there was so much to do around the house.  I started rhyming off a list of to-do’s and they replied with some whines and a few “I wish we didn’t have to clean today” type of wishes.

I saw that they needed to get these wishes out of their system.

Enter the wish jar.

Keri Smith is one of my all-time favourite creative people/artists and her blog had previously been called The Wish Jar.  In fact, her 100 Ideas post is a favourite of mine and when I am out of my own ideas for interesting things to do (with and without the kids), I consult the list.  (We’ve done #s 4, 26, 47,and 59 a few times).

The idea of a wish jar has always been fascinating to me.  I worried that if I created on it would be an unproductive celebration of things we don’t have.  Then I realized that dreams and wishes are a big part of childhood and as adults, we get bogged down by too much pragmatism and personal limits.  Ever-Patient and I just don’t want the kids to dream…we want them to dream BIG.  HUGE.  THE CRAZIEST, MOST GRANDIOSE, AND MOST IMPOSSIBLE DREAMS.

We found an empty jar, took strips of paper, wrote down our wishes, folded them up, and tossed them in the jar.  (#3 and #4 dictated or drew what they wished for…although #3 just wanted to write her name because she had “no wishes right now” – I was very jealous).  I didn’t ask to read their wishes and told them that they wouldn’t be read by anyone.  We would continue to add wishes over time and when the jar became full, we would burn the wishes, letting the desires and thoughts go, and accepting that life will unfold as it is intended.  I explained that if they are paying attention and are open to every opportunity and experience, their wishes can most definitely come true.

It was a quiet activity and it helped them ease into the mundane household chores.  There was still an adverse reaction to emptying the dishwasher but there was also more of a peaceful atmosphere throughout the house.  There is something magical about having this jar of wishes, these unfulfilled yet promising thoughts of possibility.  Maybe it’s the simple act of writing down the wish – seeing the words on paper that takes the wish one step closer to manifestation that creates this sense of the supernatural.  Maybe it’s the accompanying emotions of hope and anticipation that contributes to the magic.  Maybe it’s the feeling that the accumulation of wishes in one place enhances the strength of each individual wish and there is some imaginary magnetic pull for this ‘wish collection’ to enter the world of the real.

I began to write down my own wishes to add to the jar.  I realized that my wishes resembled more like hopes.  Is there a real difference between wishes, hopes, and dreams?  It had seemed for a long time that wishes were only for children and that hopes were left to the adults.  And dreams? Those were abandoned as soon as we grew up, childhood nonsense we buried when we had to worry about other things, grown-up things.  As I listened to #4 wish for a star or to be a tree, I felt envious with a twinge of sadness.  I looked down at my list of wishes that were never going to be read by anyone else and still, they were all very “adult” and “responsible.”  I wished for health, safety, and financial security…blah, blah, blah.  I tossed out those wishes and began again.  I wished I didn’t have to clean today and any other day for that matter.  I wished I could be 5 years old again.  I wished for daily foot rubs.  I wished for a perpetual chocolate fountain in my kitchen.  I wished for the power to control the weather.  I wished for everything to remain the same.  I wished for a weekly date night with Ever-Patient.  I wished for the kids to always be close.  I wished for a pastry diet that would shed pounds.  I wished for a fairy godmother.

#4 drawing her wishes.

#3 writing her name.

And I added some hopes and dreams in there…mostly about the kids and about my own life after the kids.

My hopes for their lives can be summed up by reading this manifesto.

The more I wrote and analyzed and wrote and analyzed, I realized that what I want is much simpler than I had originally thought.  I really don’t wish for the bigger house, the wealth, or even want more of anything.  I want to remember to use the precious time that I have on this earth to be happy, to actually enjoy what I have and to make sure that all the people I love know I love them.  I want less preoccupation with “things” so I can focus on what’s really going on – like #1 and #4 having a conversation at the table sharing a plate of cookies and a glass of milk at 10:00pm at night or #3 looking at herself in the mirror making different facial expressions talking to an imaginary friend or #2 curled up with #5 on the bed as they smile at each other or when I exchange a familiar glance of gratitude with Ever-Patient as we sit on the porch in silence at midnight.

My kids ARE healthy, happy, close, and we have made a nice little life for ourselves.

Isn’t it ironic that it is only with the creation of this wish jar that I realize that all my wishes have indeed come true?

the boy…


…is 9 months old.

…has 4 teeth erupting simultaneously which means he is super clingy with mama, wakes up in the middle of the night multiple times, and is BITING with a capital B.

…is semi-mobile.  No walking or conventional crawling.  He rolls and does a combination of the worm and the roll-and-sit-up move which he does until he gets to the desired destination.  A typical scenario in our house:

Me (speaking to #1, #2, #3, and/or #4):  “Watch your brother, I have to run to the washroom.”

All:  “Ok Mom.”  They turn to #5 and start to play with him.

I return 1 minute later and everyone is doing something except the one thing I asked them to do…

Me (yelling frantically to #1, #2, #3, and/or #4):  “WHERE IS YOUR BROTHER!?”

All (neither frantic nor concerned):  “He was just here a minute ago.”

Me:  “Just help me find him please.”

We mostly find him under the piano bench, the coffee table, the dining table, or half-lodged under the couch.

…adores his mother…still.

…claps his hand when he’s happy and when you want him to say “bye.”

…loves to eat but has to be distracted by holding an object in each hand during meals so he can bang on the table.

…loves swings.

…dresses EXACTLY like his father.  Ever-Patient prohibits him from wearing anything cartoonish or too cutesy or something that may get him eventually beaten up in the school yard.

…loves to be outdoors.

…loves sand under his toes.

…is also lovingly referred to as “Magic-Head” by his sisters.  They play this game where they rub his head and say, “Magic-Head, Magic-Head, give me a kiss.  Magic-Head, Magic-Head, grant my wish…”  And then they make a wish.  This poor boy.

…still hates the car.  His car-ride time limit is approximately 20 minutes and then after that it’s a cry-fest.  There are times we can play some Justin Bieber at which point he may calm down.  Most times, he is inconsolable for the rest of the car ride.  Normally, he cries and #4 yells from the back, “Mom!  He’s crying!! He’s crying!! He wants you! Mammmmaaaaa!!!!  Do something!”  And that yelling goes on as long as the crying goes on.  Car rides pretty much suck right now.

…is so delicious.  He is so yummy that #4 would like to eat him up and constantly asks, “Please Mama, can I pinch him hard just once? He’s so squishy!”

…is growing too fast.  I just can’t bear it.

This smile melts me every time.

Have a great Civic holiday!

10 years…ago.

About a month ago, Ever-Patient and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.

Here’s what we looked like 10 years ago:

Let’s take a brief walk down memory lane, shall we?

I remember that on June 28th, 2000, we wed on a beach on Paradise Island in the Bahamas (back when destination weddings were more like the exception than the rule).

I remember Ever-Patient and I discussing the idea of having a wedding here. Having lived together and raising a child who was about to turn 2, we felt that it was a bit bizarre to have a grand event.  It was my mother who came up with the fabulous idea for us to get married abroad.

I remember living in student housing at the university and Ever-Patient working night shifts.   We were barely making ends meet so a wedding on a shoestring budget was our reality at the time.  We made our invites, CDs of our favourite songs to give away, centrepieces, and table numbers.  In the end, my parents helped out a lot and we were grateful for their support in our decision to not have a huge wedding.

I remember my mom doing most of the liaising with the wedding coordinator.  My mom would ask me, “Do you want white or cream linens for the tablecloths?” And I would say, “White?”  And she would say, “Really?  You think?”  And then I would say, “Um, cream?” And then she would say, “Perfect choice!”

I remember shopping for my wedding dress.  At first, I began shopping with my mother who insisted on having me try on all the traditional looking wedding dresses.  I refused all the white dresses, having a moment similar to Miranda shopping for a wedding dress on an episode of Sex and the City:

I remember the day I found my dress.  I was with a bridesmaid and we decided on a whim to go into a cheesy bridal shop and basically make fun of the dresses.  I found a bridesmaid dress in an awful colour but in the most simplest style.  It was only $150 and it came in cream!  Problem solved.  Wedding dress purchased.

I remember that the tag on our CD giveaways contained the following message:

Once upon a time two people fell in love, were blessed with an angel, promised forever in Paradise, and lived happily ever after.

I remember a week long vacation with friends and family…and then we happened to get married on the Wednesday.

I remember that #1 was our flower girl who began to walk down the steps to the beach as planned until she decided to veer off to the side and picking up shells.  We left her there until my father and I got to her and he picked her up and the three of us walked down together to meet Ever-patient.  It was completely unplanned but completely perfect.

I remember my brother Mark who was 5 and 1/2 eating a whole can of Cheetos right before the ceremony and having orange grease stains all over his shirt much to my mother’s chagrin.

I remember never feeling nervous or having cold feet because that day I wasn’t thinking about “forever in love” or “lifetime commitment.”  I was thinking, “Today I will promise my best friend that I will be there beside him for him to lean on and for me to lean on him.”  That’s it.

I remember how we wrote our own vows and how Ever-Patient forgot his during the ceremony and I cared for a split second.  (After a few anxious seconds on his part, he remembered.)

I don’t remember much at the reception since my family likes to kick things off with lemon drops before dinner.

I remember saying personal and public thank you’s to all 40 of our guests.

I remember my grandmother and feeling so grateful she was there to share that day with me.

I remember, as clear as day, how Ever-Patient looked against the bluest of skies as he slipped that ring on my finger.  I specifically told myself to hold on to the moment, to be there and nowhere else.

I remember tears and toasts on the beach with violins and bubbles in the background.

I remember wading into the water to watch the sunset with Ever-Patient after the ceremony and not caring if my dress got wet because it cost only $150.

I remember that my younger brother Matt who was almost 10 at the time read the following passage:

On Marriage
Kahlil Gibran

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

Fast forward 10 years.

The above passage completely reflects our marriage over the last 10 years.  Space in our togetherness.  Filling each other’s cup but not drinking from one cup.  Not completing each other but walking side by side as we travel on our own journeys.  There were times when we were quite a distance apart as we traveled while other times we were at arm’s length or hand in hand.

In the beginning, I had a hard time believing in “happily ever after.”  My parents were divorced and I’ve seen families torn apart by failed marriages.  I knew there was a possibility that it wouldn’t last.  I didn’t believe in fairy tales only custody battles and trial separations.  Every bump we had those first few years, I assumed we should be contacting lawyers.  Ever-Patient was what he always was: Patient.  Each time we disagreed, he assured me in the least sarcastic way that you could still love someone and want to tear a strip into them.  He told me that ups and downs were normal and we would find our way.

Through every difficulty, he stuck around.  Through every breakdown, he stuck around.  Through every argument, he stuck around.  Through every challenge, he stuck around.  After awhile I realized and trusted that he truly wasn’t going anywhere.

Soon after, our sharp peaks and deep valleys became more like the gentle ebbs and flows of low tide.  We had major life events during the last 10 years including 4 more babies, 3 house moves, and multiple career changes.  But still, we ebb and flow.

There are times when we are so busy our heads are spinning and the most we may say to each other is “hey” or simply rhyme off a list of to-dos and schedules.  There are other times when we deliberately schedule “us” time even if it means having a newborn sharing that time.  We will sit for hours and talk even if it means that the next day we will have to get by with just 2 hours of sleep.  We ebb and flow.

There are times we teeter back and forth through a spectrum of emotions towards one another – maybe ambivalent one day and absolute euphoric the next.  Total irritation one minute and disgustingly affectionate the next.  Sometimes we sit next to each other and hold hands as we watch the kids.  Other times we are at opposite ends of the room surfing the net on our respective laptops.  We ebb and flow.

We have learned to read each other.  We are scathingly honest because we feel safe with one another.  We love each other not in spite of our differences but because of them.  We are strong individuals that do not acquiesce easily yet we have a profound respect for one another’s opinions.  We LIKE each other.  We actually like to spend time hanging out together in silence or in conversation depending on our moods.  We are outnumbered which means we must remain a united stand as partners in our family.  We are a reflection of what the other one is striving to acquire and we serve as constant reminders and systems of encouragement for each other.  (For example, I am working on being more patient and Ever-Patient is working on being more organized.)  Only we can empathize with what each other experiences day to day.  (There aren’t many out there with families like ours.)  We laugh.  We laugh A LOT.  We have many deliriously tired nights when all we can do is alternate between breathing and laughing.

I agree to an extent when people say marriage takes work.  It does but not in the sense of putting effort into “fixing” a relationship.  Marriage isn’t a linear path – you don’t go from Point A to Point B.  It’s an organic entity that keeps morphing as circumstances change, individuals grow, and as learning takes place.  But when you work on yourself through accepting yourself, loving yourself, and finding what your passionate about, your marriage can only benefit.


Dear Ever-Patient,

Thank you for getting me.  Really getting me…particularly because I am definitely a tough one to get.  The last 10 have flown by.  It was a decade of “doing” – moving, changing, having babies, starting new careers.  We may have changed our taste in clothes and may have learned to live healthier but I love that we still talk as if it was that first phone call when we spoke for hours.

Thank you for understanding the way I seem to ebb and flow.  Thank you for respecting my need for solitude and my aversion to public displays of affection (I know that one’s hard for you!).  Thank you for not ever wanting to change a single thing about me and being a sometimes vocal and a sometimes silent supporter in the background.  Thank you for knowing when to carry me and when to encourage me to stand on my own two feet.  Thank you for always always being in my corner even when I don’t deserve it.  Thank you for pointing out in the most gentle way when I could have been better and for applauding when I was better. Thank you for being the rock when I can’t.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to stay home especially since I know that you would trade places with me in an instant.  Thank you for making me feel safe: safe to voice my opinions, safe to vent, safe to let go, safe to ask for help, safe to make mistakes, safe to forgive, safe to live the life I’ve always wanted to live.  Thank you most of all for teaching me patience and enduring love.

I am so excited for the rest of our life together.

10 questions i’ve asked myself this week.

  1. What are my kids’ obsession with putting their feet in the baby’s mouth?
  2. Is it too much to ask all household members to put away their own stuff?
  3. How am I feeling? (At this moment, in this life, generally, physically, mentally…?)
  4. What else can I do to  slow down time?
  5. Does this parenting thing ever get easier?
  6. Did I make the right decision today?  (My child was disappointed today.  She was disappointed in an outcome and in herself.  She failed at something probably for the first time.  She didn’t want to go to school.  I sent her anyway after she cried in my arms for about half an hour breaking my heart into a million pieces over and over again.  I told her that I wouldn’t be sending her to school if I knew she wasn’t strong enough and if she didn’t have the great group of friends that she had to support her.)
  7. Did I connect with each child this week by looking into their eyes and affirming that they matter, that they are important and are enough simply because they exist?
  8. How much less can I live with?
  9. Have I taken care of myself this week?
  10. Dear God, when will #4 be toilet-trained?

Have a great weekend.

on motherhood.

According to the dictionary, the definition of “mother” is:



1. a female parent.
2. ( often initial capital letter ) one’s female parent.
3. a mother-in-law, stepmother, or adoptive mother.
4. a term of address for a female parent or a woman having or regarded as having the status, function, or authority of a female parent.
5. a term of familiar address for an old or elderly woman.
7. a woman exercising control, influence, or authority like that of a mother: to be a mother to someone.
8. the qualities characteristic of a mother, as maternal affection: It is the mother in her showing itself.
9.  something or someone that gives rise to or exercises protecting care over something else; origin or source.
10. (in disc recording) a mold from which stampers are made.

After reading the above entry, it struck me how narrow the definition seems and I thought about how I defined motherhood for myself.  At what point does motherhood begin?  At conception?  When you first realize you are pregnant?  When you feel the baby’s first kick? When you make the intention to adopt and do all the necessary research on adoption?  When you nurture younger siblings/family members in the absence of parents? When you hold your child for the first time?  At what point did I officially cross the “motherhood” threshold?  Was there a single act or event that signified my initiation into this exclusive club?
I remember not fully accepting or acknowledging myself as a ‘mom’ until #1 was well into her first week home.  It was in the middle of the night and I was asleep.  She woke up and began to cry.  I remember being in a dream-state waiting for someone else to tend to her.  When she cried a little harder, I woke up and realized that someone was ‘me’ and I was her mother.  Being pregnant, giving birth, breastfeeding – I was just going through the motions.  But when she needed me and only me, it hit me like a ton of bricks: I am her mother.
Though parts of my role as ‘mother’ were instinctive – taking care of physical needs – there were still many other facets of the role I needed to clarify along the way.  I needed to differentiate society’s and my own expectations of what it meant to be a mother.  I was struggling with my changing identity – I was an unmarried young mother, working part-time, and trying to finish my university degree in my spare time.  My life could no longer be filled with frivolous experiences, making decisions on a whim.  My new baby’s life and that of my own were intricately intertwined and every choice I made affected her as well.  I would not throw caution to the wind and jump without looking.  I became obsessed with building a solid foundation for her.  I probably asked myself a thousand times a day, “What is best for her?”
I felt guilty feeling selfish and wanting time for myself.  I felt guilty leaving her in the crib for just a few minutes longer because I was overcome with impatience and exhaustion.  I felt guilty for not being able to give her more.  I felt guilty for leaving her to go to work/school.  I felt guilty she didn’t have a room to call her own.  I felt guilty for all my shortcomings.  I felt guilty when I needed help.  I felt guilty for struggling.  I felt guilty for being overwhelmed.  I felt guilty for not being super-mom.
While in university, I took a course on motherhood.  I figured it would be an easy course since I was a mother and really, what else did I need to learn?  I was living in it. I read this and it broadened my perspective. The experiences and struggles described in the book resonated somewhere deep inside of me.  I wept for all of the mothers in history who had their roles defined by patriarchal institutions and I finally accepted that the contradictory emotions that surface when you become a mother are natural and universal.  In time, I figured out that “what’s best for her” is doing “what’s best for me.”  I stopped modeling myself after some fictional June Cleaver-meets-Claire Huxtable character.  I stopped feeling guilty.  I stopped comparing and trusted myself.
More often than not, people marvel at how calm I am when I am with my 5 kids.  My secret:  I have learned to own and create a concept of motherhood that works for me.  I have also managed to maintain my identity outside of the role of mother and wife (although this takes constant effort).  I enjoy my kids, not because they are extensions of my husband and myself, but because they are individuals I truly enjoy being around.  I have embraced the good, the bad, the messy.  I have chosen to be a mother on my own terms as opposed to trying to align myself with some abstract notion of motherhood.
To all the mothers, whether it be biological/adoptive/spiritual/symbolic, whether you are in the trenches changing diapers and breastfeeding or your children are teenagers or grown adults, here is my own definition of what we do and who we are (which I’m sure is still too narrow):
We nourish children(literally and figuratively).  We button, zip-up, and unbutton and unzip.  We give baths (sometimes more than one child at a time, more than once a day).  We change diapers and soiled clothes.  We kiss boo-boos.  We carry the tissues and the snacks.  We are a 24-hour hotline for immediate advice and consolation.  We bake for bake sales and volunteer for trips.  We read stories and listen when they read back.  We remind.  We remind.  We remind.  We are on call 24-7.  We hug and kiss on demand.  We are puked and pooped on.  We clean up the puke and poop.  We tuck in and reassure that tomorrow will be a better day.  We hold their little (and big) hands when they need it.  We are chauffeurs and maids and short-order cooks.  We shop with them for the perfect prom dress.  We wipe noses and wipe tears.  We take photographs and are never in them.  We are their biggest fans.  We play hide ‘n’ seek, I Spy, hopscotch, Ring-Around-The-Rosy, and Patty-Cake.  We read the same book a million times with the same enthusiasm and energy as if it was the first time.  We have sleepless nights when they don’t call home.  We push the swings and pull the wagon.  We carry them when they can’t go on.  We lift them up to reach.  We wonder if they know that the nagging and worrying is how we show them we care.  We buckle, strap,  velcro, and tie.  We tickle.  We answer a thousand questions a day and answer even if they are asking all at once.  We are light sleepers.  We love so much it hurts.  We give money with no strings.  We cook (and deliver) a much-needed home-cooked meal.  We want better for them.  We worry far too much.  We give them the last piece of dessert.  We listen even though we want to scream.  We drop off the forgotten lunch.  We organize schedules, plan birthday parties and playdates.  We don’t expect a ticker-tape parade or public recognition for what we do although an occasional “thank you” would be nice.  We cry more than they do when they get hurt.  We defend them like true mama-bears. We always laugh at the same “knock knock” joke.  We teach compassion, empathy, and to always leave the house with a ponytail and lip balm.  We try our best even when it’s never good enough.  We do last-minute laundry for the one clothing item they need to wear the next day.  We look them in the eyes and tell them we love them.
We will always be there.
Happy Mother’s Day

(Do me a favour and not only wish your mom a happy mother’s day but tell her you love her and thank her for everything.)