Every Mother’s Day, Rose Palacios and her kids recreate a family photo that her husband, Abel Sr., took of them 18 years ago.
In that original photo, Rose can be seen posing with a bouquet of flowers next to her baby quadruplets nestled safely in car seats. Needless to say, recreating it is complicated now that Adam, Alyssa, Aleah, and Abel Jr. are all grown. But in the name of nostalgia, they all cozy up into the same positions, minus the car seats, and smile for the camera.
“If we don’t plan two weeks ahead, it’s hard to get us in the same place because of work schedules,” said Rose, who coordinated this year’s photo the day before Mother’s Day to make sure it happened. “Now, they’re leaving for college.”
She added, “One daughter said, ‘This could be the last time we’re together for this.’ There were a lot of lasts this year.”
It won’t be easy to keep a good family like this apart for too long, but things certainly will be very different for the Palacios family moving forward.
The fraternal quadruplets — all basketball stars, second-degree black belts in taekwondo, and solid students at Flower Mound High School — graduated on May 29. By mid-August, they’ll have gone their separate ways to major universities.
Adam will attend the University of Kansas to study business finance, and Alyssa is headed to the University of Arkansas to major in engineering. Aleah plans to be a psychology major at Oklahoma State, and Abel Jr. is still deciding between accounting and IT before he makes his way to Texas Tech in Lubbock.
That’s quite an abrupt shift when you consider they’ve always had at least one sibling less than an arm’s reach away.
The boys share a room at home, as do the girls. And up until elementary school, they shared the same classes, too — usually one of the brothers in class with a sister. Alyssa and Aleah both still work at Culver’s. Abel Jr. used to work there, too.
They also get along great. Like many siblings, there is the occasional spat. But for the most part, they love being together and settle most debates on whose doing the next round of chores with a fun game of rock, paper, scissors.
“I share a room with my sister and fall asleep every night listening to my brothers screaming because they’re up until 3 a.m. playing video games with their friends. But I’m used to it now,” Aleah said with a laugh. “And we do rock, paper, scissors for everything — with the winners giving high-fives and the losers moping around. It’s going to be such a big change, but I can’t wait to come back for Thanksgiving and Christmas and see how much we’ve all changed.”
Abel Jr. agreed.
“It’s a new chapter in our lives,” he said. “It’s not like you’ll have your sibling right there to talk to about your day or what’s going on in your life. My brother and I talk about everything, and we’re always hanging out together in our room when nothing else is happening. You go from being at home together to being away at college. It’s different but exciting.”
Rose and Abel Sr. were never given the mythical beginner’s guide to raising quadruplets when they left the hospital all those many years ago. But none of that mattered. They were just happy to finally be parents after years of failed attempts at getting pregnant and one unfortunate miscarriage.
Rose ultimately chose artificial insemination and ovulation induction to realize her dream of being a mother.
“The doctor told us that there was a good chance that we might have twins, but the hope was always to have at least one. We never imagined having quadruplets,” Rose said with a laugh. “They were in the NICU for a little bit because they were premature, but they all ended up coming home with us pretty quickly. They were all perfectly healthy.”
Over the next 18 years, Rose and Abel Sr. celebrated every milestone and made it a point to get all four kids involved in something. When they were younger, they were all in the band — with each playing a different instrument (flute, trombone, clarinet, and euphonium).
All four enjoy playing chess, just like their dad, and also gravitated to basketball. Naturally, this led to plenty of games and perfect scheduling on mom and dad’s part to ensure at least one of them was at everyone’s game.
“He’d take the boys one week, and I’d take the girls. And then we’d switch it up,” Rose said. “It was hard, but we always made sure that we always had someone there to watch them play. They all gravitated to basketball, and that was fun.”
As the days and hours tick by quickly to when her kids will be headed off to college, Rose admits she finds herself crying more than she ever has. This is especially true as she remembers the little things like cheering in the stands during basketball games, celebrating all four kids with one giant birthday party, watching Survivor on television as a family, and, yes, recreating those precious Mother’s Day moments.
But deep down, she knows her kids are ready to spread their wings. And someday soon, they’ll find their way back home.
“As kids, they used to joke that they’d just buy the house next door and never leave home,” Rose said. “I’m sure they will thrive, though. They all chose their different schools for different reasons, and I couldn’t be happier for them to spread their wings and be on their own. It’s a wonderful opportunity for them.”