Thursday, April 26, 2012

Piece of Cake.

My husband and I have children spanning the ages from one to twenty-two. The twenty-two year olds are his, he also has a nineteen year old. The one year old is ours in common and I have a seven-year-old. The funny thing about having five kids spanning the ages from one to twenty-two is that their stages sometimes overlap.

I mean, I couldn't help but think as I watched the twenty-two year old walk across the stage this weekend to receive his college diploma, that he's on the cusp of independence. He's about take his first tentative steps into adulthood. I'm sure his father would like to follow behind and hold out his arms to catch his son if he falls. Not unlike the way he wants to protect his one-year-old daughter as she navigates walking (and god help us) running.

I see the same overlap between my one-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son. This weekend she was fussy and a little feverish. I also noticed that she was drooling, which is not something she's done up until now. It was clear she was teething, as her top two teeth have just come in and now she's got almost all four bottom teeth in too.

In the same weekend, my seven-year-old son lost his two front teeth. Currently he is missing two on top, and two on the bottom. He has developed an utterly charming lisp in the process. So strange to have one child pushing those baby teeth in for the first time with the other is pushing them out.

I asked my husband what he would say if he had a friend who was about to be a father again after the older children had already grown. I know for some people the idea is something akin to horrifying. My own husband got quite a bit of ribbing for it at work.

"I would tell him it's a piece of cake!" he said.

At first I thought he was joking, but he made it clear he meant it. I have to laugh at anyone who can come out of the first year with a baby and say, "It's a piece of cake." But I stop laughing when I realize he's not kidding. I find it overwhelmingly touching.

I see my husband with his arm slung around his graduating son's shoulders and I see him walking his one-year-old daughter down the sidewalk. In both endeavors he has the same look, the same proud smile. He loves them, that much is clear.

Lord knows the 2 a.m. wake up calls from a newborn were not a piece of cake. And raising a child from birth to college graduation is by no means a piece of cake. I think of 22 years of worrying about your children's safety, worrying about their progress, worrying about their feelings, worrying worrying worrying. But when you boil it down to its most basic parts, I think what you are left with is the love you feel for them.

Loving them, that part really is a piece of cake.

I wrote this post almost a year ago and never posted it. On second glance, I like it. Hope you like it too.


  1. This is beautiful, and I believe your husband.

    I'm sure there are some out there that wouldn't want to do the 3 am diaper changes again, but I think how I'd feel to have a baby right now: with my oldest almost out of high school: I'd snatch that chance in a minute.

    You get smarter with each one, and TIME makes you see the wonder in each one.


  2. This was immensely comforting. Sometimes having someone else partition things off, divde the mountain that towers into boulders and sand, another perspective.

    You're so right, the worrying is hard. The loving...cake. Thanks.

  3. What a great perspective, and one I hadn't really considered. I don't have experience with children, but I do with extremely elderly people and can't help but feel that many of those stages overlap as well. It's the full circle of life, and every stage can be beautiful or literally crappy.

    It's perspective, and this post was beautiful.

  4. They are easier to love when they aren't 16 :)

  5. Both of mine are grown and have left the nest, and I'm now romancing a woman who wants kids. I feel a little like your husband: not that it's a "piece of cake" though, so much as "yeah, I'd really like to raise a new one again." The night time teething and colic times are rough, but the years of discussion and watching them grow are priceless.

    Yeah. I'd totally do it again.

  6. Their easier to love when they're tiny and sleep all day. Maybe once the terrible twos, threes, and fours are over...

  7. I'm covered in goosebumps! ...guess I shouldn't read blogs naked with the window open in the Spring ;) I kid, I kid.
    This is lovely and I would love to share it with my wonderful friends who just had their first baby today. Beautiful post!

  8. My oldest one is graduating high school this year and will soon be off to college. I'm gettin' all reflictical as well. :) Very nice.

  9. I love it! So many parents focus on the negative aspects so it's great to hear someone call it a piece of cake.

  10. Like it?

    I loved it!

    Simply beautiful... Loving them is so, so easy and, after all, that's really all they need and everything else just falls into place.

  11. Love is a great foundation for building a child.

    Now. Before I inflict diabetes on everyone, I will suggest that you check out the February 6th issue of 'Time'.

    (Assuming, of course, that you haven't already done so.)

    I found the cover story enormously validating. I'm guessing you will, too.

  12. Aw, so glad you posted it. Loving them is a piece of cake, but there are consequences of love, just as with cake. Once I eat that cake I never can shed it. And with each passing year my son takes a bigger piece of my heart. Sometimes the love makes hurt.

  13. My children are 12 years apart. There are many things that never change in parenting. There are also things (such as diminishing energy stores) that change a great deal from that first child in your 20s to that second one in your 40s. Having a six year old keeps me young and connected with younger people who happen to be parents.

  14. @The Empress: I think you do get smarter with each one. And a little older, wiser, more patient...

    @Chantel: The worrying is brussel sprouts.

    @Abby: I need to apply this perspective to getting older. It freaks me out. So thanks for your perspective!

    @Two Busy: I married well.

    @Sandra: Laugh! That is true, my friend. They start to come back to you when they're least that's my observation as a former high school teacher.

    @Wolfshades: Aw. You're a good catch too. ;-)

    @Joshua: I dunno. I'm finding the terrible twos not so terrible. Even the temper tantrums make us laugh. Maybe it's because we're old.

    @Padded Cell Princess: Aw! Congratulations to your friends.

    @Madge: It's hard to watch them leave the nest... I can't even comprehend it.

    @Erin: Yeah, he gets the occasional negative comment for being an older dad. I don't get it. People like to point out how old he'll be when she graduates from high school. I'm not sure how that changes how he feels about being her dad.

    @Six-Fingered Monkey: Sometimes we worry away the good stuff if we're not careful.

    @La Piazza: I'll have to check it out!

    @The Sweetest: It's pretty intense!

    @Shirley: We're in a parenting group with a bunch of younguns and we love it for that exact reason!

  15. My kids are young adults... 19 & 22.

    Small children = small problems, easily solved by interested parents.

    Young adults - much more complex problems, not to be solved by well-meaning parents, and very tough to watch them struggle to surmount.

    In my limited experience, the loving is the easiest part of all.

  16. Sweet post. Glad you decided to publish it.

    I love that Cracky lost his teeth at the same time Grace got hers.

    And from a kid's perspective, those age gaps are awesome. My sister and brother are much older and I love it. Grace is one lucky little girl!

  17. The 22 year olds will always be his babies. My boys will be my babies forever. Nice post. What else are you hiding in the archives?

  18. I don't just like it. I love it! It's really interesting that there are those overlaps. Since I don't have kids, I never thought of it that way, but it's true.

    Thanks for posting this. It really made me smile. Beautiful!

  19. Beautiful! The whole time I'm thinking...didn't she just turn two? I must be losing it. Thanks for the note at the end.

    You and your husband have a lovely take on parenthood. I have a 16 year old. My take ain't so lovely these days!

  20. The love a parent has for their child is chemical. It IS a piece of cake. Loving other people's children is the hard part. The ones that don't look like you and have strange habits they learned from their weirdo parents.

  21. I don't have any cool witty comments. Just gratitude for sharing. I'm starting a position at a private school as a summer counselor, I'm pretty excited. Teaching, it's like getting paid to be a slightly less intense version of a parent.

  22. Our five daughters are almost 6, almost 20, almost 27, almost 28, and almost 29. (a bunch of summer birthdays...the youngest has been telling us we are all "almost" for a while now.)

    It is amazing to me how much the big girls embraced their baby sister. It is also an incredible thing to start over again. I love it.

  23. so this post is making me cry. seriously.

    and you and your man are clearly really, really, really good parents.

  24. I needed to read this today. I'm feeling like a mother-failure. But you're right, loving them is a piece of cake. And I get that part right every time. Everything else isn't as important. Thanks for sharing that Mandy. So weird, I haven't been around here in a while and the minute I pop back there are these tailor-made nuggets of wisdom sitting there waiting for me. You're so awesome.

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  26. Piece of cake. Great answer, especially for those folks who want to make him feel bad for having a new little one. The rewards are enormous. The problems he can take in stride, especially since the two of you seem to be a great team. Superficial people don't deserve a nuanced answer anyway.

  27. I love that one is pulling out teeth while one is pushing them out. With five kids, the tooth fairy must be one busy little critter.

  28. This was beautifully written. I would love to have more kids if I was medically able. I can't wait to graduate and get a more stable job so my husband and I can foster kids and/or adopt. Our children want more brothers and sisters. He has a son and I have a daughter. We would like to be able to have some together. You are very blessed.

  29. I love the teeth stuff! Meg is so preoccupied with the fact her cousin is losing his teeth she can barely stand it!

  30. I love it. Man, am I glad people like you chose to procreate. Sounds like those kids get a whole lotta love.