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Keeper of Magic by Emily Holi

Oops! usually followed by a wink.

A few times a month.

How do you keep them all straight?

Weekly, probably.

Have you ever heard of population control?

Lands in my gut at least once a year, always when I least expect it.

Words falling onto braided hair, gap-toothed smiles, lollipops stuck in coat pockets, sniffles running down frozen cheeks.

I have five children, and yes, stranger in Target, I definitely, definitely want more.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a famous singer. Not because I was any good but because I craved that electricity, that energy, that magic that (I thought) could only be found on stage.

But singing professionally is not a viable career for most—especially when you don’t have the pipes to back it up. And I do not.

Fast forward to middle school, right around the time my love of arguing took center stage. Oldest of five kids myself, I had to fight for every bowl of Fruit Loops or risk eating oatmeal instead. Light bulb moment—a lawyer! But that wasn’t enough for me either. I wanted to be a Supreme Court Judge. So I got to work.

Studied like crazy, pushed myself to get top grades that (I thought) would eventually propel me towards my dream. One night, as a sophomore in high school, my dad (partner at a very large law firm) sat me down.

I think it’s great that you want to be a lawyer, and a judge, too. I want it if you want it. But make sure you want it.

At dinner the next night, I watched my siblings fighting over the parmesan cheese, ultimately launching the bowl into the air and sending thick funky snowflakes flying all over the kitchen. My sister Molly stepped on the cracked bowl, and I helped her bandage her bleeding foot. My brother Matty cried, so I made silly faces at him until he started to giggle.

Crisis averted. Like magic.

And it dawned on me. What I really wanted, more than any other thing, was to be a mom.

But not just any mom.

I wanted to be mom to many.

I met my husband young, Tom Collins and oyster bars and carefree love. We got married when I was twenty-four. Pregnant right away. The Tom Collins and oysters helped with that.

(I thought) the magic was mine for the taking.

But then, two babies, gone like the wind. One in the blink of an eye, the other when her heartbeat stopped.

Maybe magic wasn’t mine to claim. Maybe magic had to claim me.

So I waited. I am not very good at waiting.

More oysters. More Tom Collins. Less carefree love. Knees curled to chest. Closed eyes.

Two pink lines. But I didn’t believe it.

Nine months later, she was here.

Eileen Marie, born one minute after midnight on the twenty-seventh of January.

Strapped to the table, scrubbed and sore, I looked into her eyes for the first time, and I saw it.

The magic.

Eileen was followed sixteen months later by her sister Charlotte, twenty-one months after that by her sister Maeve, twenty months after that by her sister Lila, and nineteen months after that by her brother William.

Days are loud and crazy. Crusty food stuck to walls. Diapers piled up in trash cans. Broken toys collect under couches, in corners, in pockets of forgotten days.

But there is laughter, chatter, dancing, joy. Some days we are princesses (and a prince), on a quest to save the kingdom from the evil dragon (my husband). Others, we are THE GREAT SUBURBAN BAKE-OFF, tossing flour and eggs into a bowl and praying for something edible. Some days are hard, like the loss of my grandma, or my husband’s lay-off two weeks after my third was born, or my recent MS diagnosis.

But the magic. So much magic. All day, every day, from sunup to sun down, magic.

So much magic it could fill the Grand Canyon.

And that magic keeps me alive. It keeps our family alive. It keeps the couple across the street with no grandchildren alive. It keeps the lonely clerk at Wal-Mart alive. It keeps the world alive.

Because, without children, the magic dies.

I am not a professional singer. I am not a lawyer, or a judge, or a professional “anything,” really.

But I am not just a mom, either.

I am a keeper of magic.

(and I am happy to share).


Emily Holi is a PB/MG/YA author + literary/speculative fiction writer, mom of five, grilled cheese connoisseur, and member of the National MS Society. She currently balances freelance writing with caring for her awesome kids—four girls, and one very spoiled baby boy. You can find her on Twitter @ emilyholi13.

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