I want to resist the convenience of labelling my children, especially when it comes to things like birth order and kinship.
I remember being a child who was told “I know you better than you know yourself” and wondering if I was such a simple creation, that a parent could see me laid bare before I even knew myself.
My children are of me and their father, but each of them is so much more than the sum of those parts.
The challenge to me as a mama is to give each of them the space to grow free of my definition.
That is especially true of Esme, saddled with an assumption of being trapped between the vanguard and the baggage train.
The more I slow down and look at her, I mean really look at her, the more I realise how little I see when I think of her as “her mother’s daughter” or “a middle child”.
Who runs quickly to the scene of any raised voices with calming hands outstretched and a firm "enough, enough".
Who carries her sister into the lounge when she has been discovered raiding the Lego table; Olive’s face set in a frown, her limbs limp in silent protest.
Who takes her brother in her arms and comforts him even when moments earlier he was unkind to her.
Who spots even the smallest injury and insists on knowing whether I am hurt: “You OK, mama? You OK?” and then the almost imperceptible nod when I confirm I am fine.
And oh! Her cuddles! There is nobody on this earth who gives hugs as wonderful. Wrapped in her arms it’s impossible not to feel a sense of peace.
She is my rare, precious mother hen, in all her complex, individual glory.