With nine children on two continents, ranging in age from toddler to adult, Charles and Luciana Glazier are committed parents and professionals. After working in journalism and politics for about 10 years, Charles earned a degree in clinical social work and has been working with children, teenagers, and families for more than 25 years. He has two adopted children from his first marriage. Luciana is originally from Brazil, where she had four children during her first marriage. An aspiring children’s writer, she has a doctorate in psychology and works as a school psychologist in Framingham, where they live with their 3-year-old triplets. After traveling separate spiritual paths, experiencing different religions or no religion at all, they have decided together to incorporate Judaism into their family’s life.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask what it was like to discover you were having triplets, and then what the reality of this blessing is. We’ve seen a lot more of you at JFN activities recently, so I’m guessing that age 3 was a turning point for all of you.
CHARLES: We both had already raised children, but after we married we began talking about having “one more.” I knew that we were taking a lot of risks in trying for a baby in our 50s. And my financial planner told me it was a big piece of foolishness. But I wanted to experience pregnancy and birth, and it was clear that if Luciana and I didn’t have a baby together, my family line would end with my brother and me. When we got the first blood-test results confirming that Luciana was pregnant, we looked up the numbers on the Web and predicted we were having triplets — so it wasn’t a surprise at 10 weeks when the ultrasound confirmed it. But seeing three little beating hearts made it very real. I was thrilled and excited for the first three months, and then more or less terrified throughout the rest of Luciana’s very difficult pregnancy. When the girls were born healthy and active at 33 weeks, there were lots of tears in the room!
My memories of the first six months after birth are blurry. We were up feeding all night for many months. There was a charming peaceful phase when the girls were crawling but not yet walking. Once they started walking — I think all three of them got up and running in a 10-day period — we found life much more complicated and demanding. For about two years, the word we used frequently was “relentless.” I know that last winter, when the girls were 2 1/2, and really at the height of their 2-ness, that we both felt quite stressed at times. Still, this was also a time when their three personalities really emerged in such interesting and divergent ways, and we have enjoyed getting to know these three unique people who are rapidly changing. This spring and summer, as they are 3, it has been much more fun as we can get out and enjoy the world as a family.
LUCIANA: After we learned that there were three babies inside me, I feared losing them for many, many weeks. Things got much easier after they were born and considered viable babies. Many helpful people supported our efforts, from Early Intervention to caring nannies. Now that they are 3 and dance in the kitchen and understand what we say in both Portuguese and English, I rejoice knowing that the efforts of my husband’s ancestors will continue to echo through a couple more generations. I have always enjoyed raising children, since my first job was at an orphanage at age 14. Nothing gives me more joy. Each of the three girls has a different personality. It is a challenge to preserve their share of individual attention and to know which toothbrush belongs to which child. They have learned to occupy themselves with pretend play, and that gives me a chance to read the first paragraph of a newspaper article.
What was the reaction of your older children when they discovered they were going to have three new little sisters?
CHARLES: My son, Alex, who was 19 at the time, was, as always, enthusiastic and excited. That’s his nature. He has been very involved throughout, and comes to visit and play with the girls once or twice a week, and he likes to go on outings with his sisters. For my daughter, Lucy, the arrival of younger children came at an awkward time — she was 13 years old then. She is making a good effort to be an older sister while shooting the rapids of middle adolescence!
LUCIANA: My youngest was 21 when the girls were born, so sibling rivalry was not in the cards. My children were more worried about my health than I was. Their response to the issue of mortality was to promise that they will look after the girls if something happens to us. My son Joe lives nearby, and he comes over to play with the girls and eat Mama’s food! We Skype regularly, because my children are out of the house and far away (three of them live in Brazil), and my oldest daughter just gave birth to my first granddaughter. Being so far away is the biggest problem, and we think a lot about how to keep this large family cohesive and involved over the coming years.
Be honest: Do you get tired of answering questions about what it’s like to have triplets? You won’t hurt my feelings.
CHARLES: Not at all. During the most difficult times — every Sunday afternoon during the winter, for instance — we would lift our spirits by going out to the mall or Jordan’s just so people could stop and ask us, “Are those triplets?!” Many times it has been the curiosity and pleasure that other people take in the spectacle that has helped me to keep my head up and my feet moving! Really, who wouldn’t want a chance to kvell about such an amazing brood?
LUCIANA: Of course I love when people bless us with their cheerful and encouraging comments, and of course the sight of three girls toddling along is a great encouragement to people who are hoping for a baby and are thinking about fertility treatments, so we get a lot of questions about that.
Charles, you’re Jewish by birth but have never been a practicing Jew; Luciana, you’re not Jewish. Yet you’ve decided to bring Judaism into your home with the girls. How do you hope to connect with the Jewish community?
CHARLES: I was raised in a particular style of Judaism — the aggressively atheistic kind! I’m sure you have heard of it! Over the years I joined — and unjoined — a number of temples in the Cambridge/Somerville area. It was very hard to get into the groove without any knowledge of Hebrew, and it is hard to join a temple unless I can admit to being a total beginner to all things formally Jewish. But the girls have brought me back to a willingness to be a beginner and to try to learn. I see daily the centrifugal impact of American culture on children and families, and so I feel that as a family we all need the support, guidance, and clarity that a spiritual home could provide. Now that we are emerging from the all-involving demands of the first three years, Luciana and I have begun our explorations and our search for that home. I have been encouraged by my Uncle Len and Aunt Rhoda, from Allentown, Pa. He recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of his bar mitzvah!
LUCIANA: I never felt at home in the Catholic church. But in my childhood home, there were faith and charity, and I loved them both. In my adult life, I have wandered down many religious paths, experiencing the life of the Spirit and giving meaning to my solidarity and environmental consciousness. My older children are principled but not religious, and I regret that. It is a challenge to be free-spirited or independent and also be religious. I have always admired the Jewish commitment to living words and the attitude of mending the world. With Charles, embracing Judaism and offering the triplets a chance to grow up in a spiritual home is the realization of a long-felt wish. I’m hoping we can find a place for our souls.
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