Mom's role multiplied for Mora's wife
Raising six kids a demanding job for infielder, spouse
Raising six kids has never been easy, and it's made considerably harder when one parent is constantly away from home.
Melvin Mora's family knows that better than most, and the third baseman thinks about it every time he leaves for a game or a road trip. He knows that his wife, Gisel, has to do the work of two parents for six kids.
And it's not as if there's a gradual progression in ages, either. The Moras have one 10-year-old daughter and five 5-year-old quintuplets, a rare and volatile combination that can leave the parents sapped of energy by the end of the day. Mora's quints will turn 6 in July, and the veteran can sense what he's missing on the home front.
"It's kind of hard for me; and for my wife, it's really hard. She's like a single mother sometimes," he said a week before Mother's Day. "With me not being able to be at home, it's kind of hard for her because she has to be by herself every time they need to go to school or an appointment. ... Most people say, 'Well, you have money to hire people to help you.' But it's not easy to trust somebody to come into your house and raise your kids different than you are. I think we have wonderful kids and they have great discipline, and we don't want anybody to come in and interrupt that."
Everything most families take for granted -- carpooling, sitting down for dinner at the same time, an organized bedtime and bathroom schedule -- is multiplied five-fold by having quintuplets. Mora and his wife can't rely on their young kids to help mold each other because they're at a similar stage of development but with individualized needs.
"The hardest part is when she has to help with homework -- when they don't understand some stuff and she can't divide herself. Our 10-year-old daughter helps a lot with two of them," he said of the perils introduced by education. "Going to meetings in school is kind of hard, and trying to go to any appointments with the doctor, because you don't know who can watch the other ones. We need to find to find somebody to help us for two hours. Dressing them isn't hard, because they already get dressed by themselves. They're already pretty good at matching colors. They're better than me. They tell me, 'Look, my shirt is brown and I have brown socks.' My wife did a pretty good job with that."
Mora said the children run through a wide and varied group of activities to keep them busy, a list that ranges from softball games and piano lessons to gymnastics and ballet. But when they're home, they ride bikes and settle into all the accoutrement of family life, which sometimes erupts into arguments in five-part harmony.
That's the exception rather than the rule, though, and Mora knows it's a natural extension of sibling rivalry.
"They're kids. They get along and they treat people well, but they're normal kids and they fight for toys," he said. "We teach them how to share. The other day, I was talking about how I buy one toy for everybody, and some people were criticizing me, saying, 'I can't believe you make so much money and buy just one toy for the kids.' I said, 'You know what? I buy one toy because we're smart enough to teach them how to share with their brothers and sisters.' I have money to buy 10 toys, but they need to learn to share, so that's pretty much what we do."
There is no one time of day that's crazier than the others. Mora said there's a gentle rhythm to his home life, that his children are fairly consistent in the way they behave after waking up and before they go to bed.
"Sometimes, we have trouble with one or two," he said of the night-time routine. "We tell them to brush their teeth three times, but they're walking around and walking around. But most of my kids, they're pretty good. They follow instructions, and my wife keeps everything in order at home. When it's time for bed, nobody complains, and everybody goes straight to bed. They brush their teeth, give a kiss goodnight and see you the next day at 7 o'clock."
Still, his worries are compounded five times. Matthew, Christian, Rebekah, Jada and Genesis have introduced a level of concern that increased exponentially over what the Moras had with daughter Tatiana. The quints were born premature and each weighed less than 33 ounces at birth, and every moment of their infancy was marked by peril.
Mora remembers what his life was like before they arrived, and he knows it bears no little or no resemblance to the way things have played out over the last five-plus years.
"My life changed a lot, because I have to worry more," he said. "You don't have to worry about just one -- you have to worry about everybody. When one gets sick, everybody gets sick, so that's why we try to keep all the germs away from them. They're growing and they're strong, but we still treat them like babies and try to make them understand that you have to take this all the way until the end. When you're 80 years old, you have to wash your hands."
Nothing in his life compares to the joys of fatherhood -- not the thrill of hitting a home run or the camaraderie of being part of a tight-knit team. Mora loves the game, but he truly loves to go home when the day is over. Surprisingly, being a father six times over has fed into his passion for the game even as it overshadows it.
"When you've had a rough time in a game, you want to see your kids. You want to see your family," he said. "I think that after my babies were born, my career started to take off. Now, I had something to play for and fight over. I have a wonderful family, wonderful kids, a wonderful wife. That's the only thing important to me."
There are no plans to add to that family, though. Mora and his wife briefly discussed the idea of having more children, but eventually, they decided that their brood was perfect without any more additions.
"Six is enough. We were thinking, when we had the babies, of having another one so we could have three boys and three girls at the same time and close to the same age," he said. "Then we'd have four girls and three boys, total, but that was our talking crazy stuff. After five kids running around, I don't think anybody wants one more. We don't plan to have more, because it's kind of hard. We just want to enjoy our kids, have fun with them and watch them grow."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.