Parenting Do-Over: Having Children 16 Years Apart. By Katie Allison Granju for


During the hardest part of my very hard recent labor with my baby daughter, Charlotte, my cell phone kept ringing – over and over and over. It was tempting to turn it off, but as the mother of three older children who weren’t with me at the hospital, I was afraid that if I did, one of the other kids might break an arm in a bike accident or something, and I’d miss the call letting me know.

In fact, the call I kept getting was from my eldest child, my sixteen-year-old son. He hadn’t broken any bones, but he had been invited to “teen night” at a local nightclub, and he wanted to know whether he could go. My answer was no the first time he called, as well as the seventh time he called, and he wasn’t happy about it.

Arguing with a teenage boy is never going to be my favorite thing to do, and it turns out that it’s especially not my favorite thing to do while attempting to give birth to said teenage boy’s baby sister. The conversation went something like this:

Teenage boy (in whiny, persistent tone): “Mom, everyone else is going, and if I don’t go, no one will want to hang out with me for the rest of the summer!”

Me (through gritted teeth): “Son, if you call me again to ask me this same question while I am trying to get this baby out, you won’t live long enough to see your friends any more for the rest of the summer.”

I hung up the phone and reflected on the fact that almost two decades earlier, I had given birth to the teenage boy on this very same floor at the very same hospital. During the following six years, I had two more children, a daughter and another son. By age twenty-nine, I believed I was completely finished having babies, and that the family I’d created with my husband was complete.

But I was wrong. Divorce, followed several years later by remarriage to a wonderful man more than a few years my junior led me to the happy decision to become a mother for the fourth time, at age forty. So today I have a four-month-old baby and three much older children. After believing I was finished, I am now getting the opportunity to start again at one of life’s most challenging and important tasks.

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