There is, when you have three kids, always the one.
There is the one that, right now, you don't worry about. There is the one who makes you smile. There is the one who who has your eyes, your husband's nose, the jawline of a relative whose name you cannot place.
And there is the one that makes you cry; big, open-mouthed, snotty-nosed, wailing tears of despair and recognition for the lesson you cannot give, that you once had to learn—the one that almost cost you your own life.
There is the one for whom your words fall like fat raindrops against glass, plopping and then landing on the ground, dissolving into nothing, like a hard-won gift you never even gave.
There is the one who charges through life with a merry look and a smile like a wrecking ball, spreading frustration like an angry wake; who looks at the chaos wrought by the force of defiance and careless laziness and innocently inquires, "What?"
My heart, it seems, will break upon the cliffs of that one's free agency, upon that inborn endowment of individuality that sets a child of my own body spinning away from me on the breeze of time. My arms remember when that one was small enough to hold and press tight against danger, young enough to listen to my words, large-eyed and trusting, as I told what to do about living in the world. My arms grasp air now. Too often, they reach and fill with emptiness. Too much, they fill with the ache of bitter rage.
Mostly, I am inspired. Mostly, I am amused. But sometimes I am dumbfounded and grief-struck by this business of motherhood. Raising children is easy, but raising people...it is hard. Sometimes, it is hard.