Let Them Eat Cake

This was NOT Brian's cake.
I birthed my fourth teenager yesterday.  It wasn't too arduous; it just involved my sitting down and instructing Brian ALL DAY Tuesday on everything I need to tell him before his brain fogs up and he can no longer hear me.  He was admirably good-natured about it.  Because he wasn't quite a teen yet.

So I spent yesterday leafing through old photo albums and showing the little girls pictures of Brian as a baby - oh, and suppressing twinges of guilt as my youngest kept asking, "Where are the pictures of ME?"  Nowhere, honey, because that's what happens when you are the caboose.  You don't get scrapbooked.

I started this blog when Brian was only 6 or 7 -- that is, when I was still young and optimistic and thought that life after babies would be easy.  I guess I wasn't paying attention to that teen thing or noting just how haggard the faces of older parents looked.  Blissfully ignorant, that was me. And, boy, do I want that naive optimism back.  As it is, every morning I wake up and feel a slight panicky feeling in my throat and chest.  "What?"  I think.  "I have to do it again?  Just like yesterday?  And the day before that?" 

I fight that feeling, of course.  I get up, I shower and dress and do my hair, I wave my 2-lb handweights around in an attempt to tone my arms in 7 days (Day 4, so far - I'll keep you posted).  But, deep down, I know I'm screwed.  I've got 2 teens at home and 2 more on the way, and no amount of fitness or sheer perseverance changes the math: I'm losing ground, and they outnumber me. 

I endured a screaming tantrum from Susie just this evening, because she wanted birthday cake but wouldn't eat her dinner.  You know, the first 10 or 15 years I dealt with that sort of thing, it was tiring but worth it.  Worth it, because I believed I had taught a valuable lesson to my child and that I had laid the groundwork for years of obedience and household peace.  But now?  I know it's all a crap shoot.  I know my resoluteness and effort will not necessarily produce any long-lasting positive results, but I still can't give her the damn cake.  How's THAT for dispiriting?

I guess that's why people love being grandparents - they never have to withhold the cake.

Comments

  1. Like you, I couldn't imagine parenting after infancy being any harder. Boy was I dumb. Parenting of teens is hard stuff...

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  2. What do you mean, 'life after babies'? Mine are in their thirties now. 'After babies' hasn't happened yet.

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  3. I cannot tell you how many times I run into people today that haven't seen me in three or four years and they gush over how great I look--younger than you used to they say. Yes, I say--my kids are grown.

    So, yes, you must go through it, but when you come out on the other side, it's a wonderful place to be.

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  4. Look on the bright side. I have some friends who started with one teenager, and the teen brought home a boyfriend, and two *other* teens (for complicated reasons) needed a place to live for a couple of years. So despite having only one child, they wound up with four teenagers... (they lived). The original teen? Graduates from college and finally moves out this spring.

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  5. Yeah, hard times. I felt so blissful when I dreamed of motherhood. Then it comes in whacking one upside the head like a two by four.

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  6. Of course we like being grandparents...not only do we let them eat cake but when they have the screaming fits, we can give them back!

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  7. I was number 4 of 5, my mother gave us about 2 minutes per meltdown. Get it over she would say there is someone waiting their turn.
    The way she figured out what worked for me was to make me sit still....
    This too shall pass, but not without some battles.
    Meanwhile look for the joy.

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  8. I so feel what you wrote. My youngest, now 22, got little space in the photo albums, though I have decent enough coverage of the first couple of years. I did not expend nearly as much energy on him as I did the older ones. It helped that he was pretty easy going, but every once in a while, I wonder...

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  9. See, I figured out pretty early on that I like babies best. Yup, a lot of work, but the payoff is so much nicer. For me, it's all down hill when there are no babies anymore, and there aren't. There's nobody left in this house who gazes at me in helpless adoration. I am no longer the sun in anyone's sky. They all really only notice me when they want to know what's for dinner or if the laundry is done yet, and I haven't even hit the teenage years yet.

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  10. When my kids were babies and my nieces and nephews were teens, I thought, "I want an adolescent! They're so cute!" But wow, now that all four of my kids are teens (technically, the oldest is 20) parenting has become so complicated.

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  11. It's a long haul, but--in the rearview mirror--a haul you will miss once it's gone. As Warren Zevon used to say, "Enjoy every sandwich". Hard to do sometimes (especially with teenagers), but yields rewards and there is definitely less wear and tear on your gut.

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  12. I'm horrible I just let the youngest have the cake. Sometimes you just need to eat dessert first (or only ;))

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  13. Grandparents never have to withhold the cake.
    But think how much fun it will be to do the right thing for no selfish reason, and hand back the screaming problem . . . to the previous screaming problem.

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