I was born on the twenty-third day of June in 1953. I married Wood when I was twenty-one, and by twenty-seven had earned the title of "mom". I would repeat that seven more times over the next fourteen years. We would be teased unmercifully by friends who said that we had the market cornered on "front-row Catholic names": Matt, Elizabeth, Claire, Kathleen, Mary Morgan, Andrew, Meghan and Margaret. Unwavering Irish Catholic.

I feel like I began this motherhood journey thinking I was going to run a 5K and make pretty good time. It has been more like a marathon --- alternating between "hitting the wall" and gasping for breath.

My favorite part of parenting is listening to my kids retell stories. Then I am reminded that we've had a riotous good time on many, many occasions. And sometimes, in the day to day, I forget that it hasn't all been lost library books, dead fish, broken curfews, dented fenders, soggy washcloths on the floor of the shower, a sticky refrigerator door handle, or whose turn it is to clean out the bunny cage or the cats' litter box, or to ride in the front seat. That we've celebrated personal and public victories and we've settled our differences and confronted pain in many ways --- through tears, slammed doors, quivering chins, stony silences, sobbing, retreating.

My friends would tell you that I am generous, funny, willing to do just about anything for any of them, most likely a stockholder in Gap khaki shorts. My
38 spices are alphabetized but I only use pepper, cinnamon and basil, the rest are for decoration. I am set-your-watch-by-me reliable, always clutching a list of things to do.

My kids would say that I am available, that I know who they are, maybe even when they don't, that I have a big heart, and am a great mom. They say that I am passionate about not incarcerating children, the death penalty, knitting, dimples, honesty, putting their napkin in their lap, mowing every blade of grass --- with no residual fringe, curly hair and saying goodnight.

I would tell you that I am sometimes "stuck". Not sure who I am, where I fit. I am estranged from a family that functioned, but sometimes not very well. I am not good at letting much of anything unpleasant run its course,
but I enter, stage left, too quickly to fix whatever I perceive to be broken. I am not good with silences --- you probably don't want to sit next to me on a cross-country plane trip or stand in front of me to renew your driver's license. I have no fashion sense and carry the same purse until it wears out. (I don't wish I had a fashion sense.) I have a non-existent ability to say no, and I laugh - a lot.

My husband would tell you that I am a morning person, recoil at the mere suggestion of clutter, make a great fried egg sandwich and that sometimes love hurts. That I believe in happy endings and honesty is my guiding
principle. That I call it like I see it and don't play games. That I can beat the socks off him in backgammon and it makes him grumpy - because I gloat --- just a little.

I dedicate my writing to Wood, the man who shared this thirty year marital journey and to the kids - Matt, Elizabeth, Claire, Kathleen, Mary Morgan, Andrew, Meg and Margaret, who helped us define ourselves as a family.