I am lucky enough to be sending triplets to college in the next weeks. I am aware of that the power of an education in the world, especially for my only daughter, is nothing to take lightly. We are lucky enough that despite unemployment and foreclosure and sighing over bills, somehow the crazy quilt of scholarships and summer jobs and work study and freelance projects and extra jobs has knit firmly enough to see us through freshmen year. I am aware of the good fortune of having an ex-husband that is patient enough to explain financial aid forms times three, dutifully fills out his half and has always dealt squarely with me and our five children. I am aware that this week in particular- when the news is so full of the sorrow of another mother, who lost her college-bound son to six heavy bullets in Ferguson Missouri, that having white children in a still racist country is an ugly kind of luck, that when my three return to Seattle this rainy Thanksgiving and head out in their hoodies to walk with friends in the dark, that what will worry me most is simply their own youthful foolishness. I am aware of all this luck, and nothing about my deep sadness this last full week of everyone home discounts the marvelous fact of college times three actually happening. For many years, when asked, “how did you do it?” about the triplet factor, my answer has been glib, too much to explain to curiosity seekers, you manage with what you have, they had each other, it was harder at first, and so on. What only the closest friends, those around since the beginning will ever know is the amount of triage that goes into raising three children at the same time. Three mouths, two breasts, from day one the odds are stacked. Three nursing mouths turns into six skinned knees, or six hands to hold on the street and still only two of mine. Grade school turns into three diorama projects due the next morning and only one piece of poster board. Field trip forms in triplicate, lunches, shower times the intricacies of grade school friendships. Inviting so and so even though he/she doesn’t like your brother, or no he cannot come because he is mean to your sister and always, someone losing out on some part of things. Which back to school classroom to sit in, which homework to review so that child can get to bed, which braces to try and afford first. Why accepting a scholarship to private high school makes sense for one, when a big urban public school works for the others. And now, surrounded by boxes and xl-twin mattress covers, how can I make sure each one knows how blown away I am by love- the thousand specific reasons that are entirely their own. That maybe it has been three times as hard but three times as worthwhile. When they were toddlers, my friend’s grandmother told me to always remember that when my feelings got hurt by a child pulling away it meant that the time had come for that, was developmentally appropriate, and happened because we had done something right. And so now, this last week, when my son who just got his first OM sign tattoo tells me he does not want to grab sushi because he needs to say goodbye to friends, or my daughter leaves town to work a few more days before leaving or my eldest (by a minute) is more worried about the state of his high school romance than packing, I remind myself all of this is because we did something right. All those mornings and afternoons and bedtimes in a row, we have done something right. And that this sadness is appropriate, and oh-so lucky.