Susan Engel on Parenthood and Middle Age—When They’re Grown, the Real Pain Begins

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When I was 24 years old, I brought my firstborn son, 3-week-old Jacob, to my childhood home on the Eastern End of Long Island to meet his grandparents. When I arrived, an old family friend and neighbor, Cora Stevens, happened to be sitting in my parents’ kitchen. Cora, a mother to five grown children and grandmother to seven, grabbed tiny Jake, put her face right up to his and started speaking loud baby talk to him. Then, as she bounced him on her knee, she turned to me and said, “When they’re little they sit on your lap; when they’re big they sit on your heart.”

Oh, how right she was. Now that Jake is 28, and his brothers are 25 and 19, I can say without a doubt that this is way harder than having little kids. When my children were growing up, I groped my way through stormy nights, chaotic dinner hours, endless mess, nail-biting basketball games, tortured term papers, bad dates and the agony of college admissions. During all those wild ups and downs in the back of my head was the calming thought: once my children get into college, my work will be done. In retrospect, having little kids was a breeze. As long as you hugged them a lot and made good food, things seemed to be, for the most part, O.K. You could fix many problems, and distract them from others. Your home could be a haven from all that might be painful and difficult in the world beyond.

All of that changes when they are grown....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMiddle AgeYoung Adults

1 Comments
Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Teatime2 wrote:

I totally understand. I’m going through this right now. Weird how when they have setbacks, we begin to question our parenting and whether we failed them somehow. It’s illogical but there it is, lol. I guess my parents did the same when I had bumps along the road!

December 4, 5:17 pm | [comment link]
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