Last tim

e, I told about the fish Cole got for his birthday, and the teensy weensy fish fry, which we left in the care of Aunt Joy, while we went on vacation. I left off, just at the point, where we returned home, dashed to the bathroom, and stopped short, with our eyes bulging and jaws dropping.

There, in the vase, were three fully grown goldfish. They were just as big as Goldfish, herself!

But they were floating upside down.

Complete pandemonium broke out, there in the master bathroom. There was crying and wonderment and confusion… Were these our babies? Had they grown this big in just a week? What was Aunt Joy feeding them? And how did they die?

We called Aunt Joy, and she was equally shocked to learn the demise of the fish in the vase. The babies, she told us dishearteningly, had all three died, just the day before. She had tried to soften the blow by purchasing three new goldfish. Unfortunately, this only compounded our shock (and later, our amusement!)

The kids and I were devastated. Ken was sad, but said it would be easier to get to work on time. We mentally filed the mystery of the baby goldfish under ‘X Files’ and went back to being a one-fish family.

But more was to come.

Some months later, I poured the contents of Goldfish’s home in the plugged kitchen sink and began cleaning the tank. The doorbell rang, and while I was at the front door, I heard shout jubilantly from the kitchen, “MOM! We have MORE BABIES!”

I excused myself from the door, and again was skeptical. “Oh, Cole, that water was really nasty. It’s probably just algae floating around.” But Cole just shook his head no, and pointed with insistence at the sink.

Sure enough, three more teensy orange fish were swimming among the cloudy water and debris. I couldn’t believe it! Six months had now passed since Goldfish had taken residence in our one gallon tank. Did we have a magical fish? Should I call the local news station? Or at least a science lab? I posted a picture of our babies on a fish lovers site to get their input.

What I learned from the people who actually know something about fish, drained our adrenaline a bit.

No, we did not have a magical fish. Rather, my husband had inadvertently bought a Platy for $.49 rather than a Goldfish, next door, for $.59. (Knowing Ken, I’m sure it was the 10 cent savings that distracted his attention from the breed of fish.)

Platys are live bearers and release several free swimming babies every few weeks for many months after being fertilized. So our babies were actually quite common.

But then, we realized that ‘Goldfish’ wasn’t a common name at all…. for a Platy!

Even though science could explain away our adventure, it couldn’t purge the wonder of our experience. The story of the mother fish named Goldfish, who lived in our fish tank, was even more fun to tell, now that her baby mystery had been solved. (Actually, she has more stories, too—including a very sad ending to her story.)

There are a couple of ways I identify with Goldfish’s story. When I first took the commonplace name, “mom”, I’m sure there were some who thought I was headed for a small and boring existence. But I’m like Goldfish! Each of my babies have added his or her own unique personality to our evolving family dynamic. And being a mom has only brought intrigue and meaning to the role that I play.

In fact, I’m not really sure what my identity was before I became a mom. My ‘pre-kids’ life seems rather one-dimensional and boring to me now. It’s almost as if motherhood plopped me into a tank where my true identity was unveiled, and one of the main plotlines of my life’s story began! These three amazing people have made my life so much richer and fuller.

Sometimes, as I study the details of my kids’ faces—the furrowed brow of my curly-haired boy as he concentrates on homework; the sparkle of amusement in my daughter’s eyes when somebody makes a harmless mistake; the ‘out for blood’ expression on my older son’s face, as he plows through opponents on the soccer field–I become entranced in wonder.

Then, I whisper to myself in a hushed, reverent tone, “I’m a Mom!”

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