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As soon as my first baby was born twenty-one years ago I ordered, through the mail, a metal ladder made of chain links that I have kept under my bed ever since. I entertained my family for years by dragging every babysitter my kids ever had to my bedroom, pulling out the brand new but dusty box, and opening the lid to reveal the gleaming metal ladder while explaining, “If there’s a fire you’ll be prepared to install this over the window frame upstairs here, and carry each of my kids to safety.”

Seriously…. At least I paid them well.

I have always believed that if I could have kids, love them well, and then get them safely to adulthood, I’d have a loving family for life. The family I came from is fraught with members who have run to faraway places and slammed the door shut, or disengaged because I wasn’t doing things the right way, or were too afraid to risk relationships with anyone at all, and in general have not been very interested in being a family. So my big hope has been growing a family of my own.

The social pressure to ‘have a wonderful Mother’s Day’ is not important to me because every day that I have my kids in my life, being the people they are, and loving me out loud is a wonderful Mother’s Day despite the rest of the required trappings. That I figured out how to get all this is the success of my life.