Pizza and Parenthood

Marking our kids’ departure for college, with extra cheese.

Comments: 34

  1. The night the dog died. The teacher my daughter hated so much she cried. Called to school because the older boy defended his younger brother from a bully.

    Those are the things that hold us together, along with favorite foods.

  2. Your column was delightful, especially due to the universality of the feelings it evoked. Many of us go through the same struggle to both let go and hold on to our children. I loved your use of food to bring your family together.

    I hope that you will excuse me, but one thing bothered me. Why did you constantly refer to "my wife"? It began to feel disrespectful to me. Does your wife not have a name? It does not matter to me what your wife's name is, but it would have been more personal.

  3. I couldn't agree more. I have always found the expression "my wife" to mean a possession. Jennifer Boylan doesn't own her so give her a name.

  4. Perhaps the wife is private and doesn't want her name used?

  5. It is a stylistic choice -- nothing disrespectful about it -- and it works well. It is deliberate that the children's names are used and the author's name and her wife's are not. Can we please not have political correctness ruin good writing?

  6. Thank you for this, Jennifer. As my husband and I prepare for the departure of our own second son to his freshman year in college, I can't stop clinging to visions of the past. That first son was the alpha in the nest -- we celebrated his leap off the edge with joy, singing "Fly, sweet boy, fly!" This time, it seems harder to let go. We'll cherish these last few days with everyday rituals, like pizza and homemade waffles. And we'll say a prayer together, that the incredibly strong love we have for each other gracefully expands, as he flies to the opposite coast.

  7. Jennifer, my wife is allergic to dairy. Our one daughter is gluten free and vegan, the other is a vegetarian. Family meals, when they happen, are a smorgasbord of isolations. Your life is blessed.

  8. We (my family and I are vegan/vegetarian). My daughter-in-law is vegan and gluten free. There is a vegan and gluten free pizza that we all enjoy. Bob's Red Mill Gluten free flour has a recipe right on the package. There is also a vegan Diaya Cheese and meat substitute that we can all enjoy. No need for isolation! Hope this helps.

  9. Pizzas are the perfect kid's food. I grew up on proper Midwestern pizzas of the 1950's, the ones made with Velveta cheese. I did not know what a real tomato pie was until my grandparents from Monmouth Beach, N.J., took me to Rex's Pizza in Long Branch. It was cheese and tomato sauce on a thin soft crust. You had to use both hands. You had to concentrate.

    Boy, was it good.

  10. We were strolling Corpus Christi's Magic Isles amusement park in the early 1980's, my five-year-old daughter's hand clasped on my left, her left hand nestled in her mother's right. A perfectly glorious blue sky and sunny day hosted a gentle sea breeze that tousled our hair while delivering the aromas of hot dogs, pop corn, and roasted peanuts to tickle our appetites.

    My little five-year-old social director wiggled free, but not without first connecting my loosened grip with her mother's emptied hand. Upbeat carnival organ music wafted through the park mocking the unfolding disintegration. My wife was moving on. My daughter knew that; I knew that. My little girl nobly tried to perform the role of a tie that binds - a burden too onerous for any child to ever consciously bear, yet it comes so naturally to them.

  11. I don't make my own pizzas (I hate cooking anyway) but I've learned that the local pizza shop that does the best pies is the one place I can count on to do us right whenever anything, good, bad or wonderful happens. We call, and they come bearing the boxes that hold the food that sustains us through whatever we are trying to cope with or celebrate.
    When I die, I know that as sure as apples grow on trees, my family will place that call and the boxes will come and everyone will talk about how much I hate their favorite pie with pepperoni.

  12. There are certain moments in our lives when we must pause and whisper to ourselves: "remember this". You had one of those moments. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  13. A lovely homage to the deepness that is love and family. Those of us with sons know that the grace note that is Bilbo is a perfect coda.

    Three of our four sons are now out of college (one of whom greatly loved and was transformed by Ms Boylan at Colby College). The ache and wistfulness I felt when my boys left for school became a familiar way of being. But now that that the three oldest are well into their 20s and pursuing their lives, I wish someone would have foreshadowed for me how incredibly rich this phase of life can be for parents. While I sometimes long to lift that adorable baby to my hip just one more time, I will say this phase of life with my children is truly the most gratifying yet. When I least expected it, being a mother became richer still—a beautiful, unexpected gift.

  14. My husband, and I, the stepmomma for 23 years, have so loved getting to know the two daughters (and their stellar spouses) as adults. Children can be treasured at any age. :-)

  15. Nice piece. The pizza sounds good.

  16. If you lived in New Haven, you wouldn't have to spend all that time and effort making great pizza.

  17. It wouldn't be the same.

  18. You are missing the point---these pizzas, although amazing, were made with love.

  19. My eldest left for college this summer and the hole is just as big three months later. We are a tight knit family of 6 and his absence is huge due to its presence. I know we will reform as a family of 5 but it is taking time. Every once in awhile something hits me and my eyes tear up as I miss him. Your column today did just that today.

  20. excellent excellent excellent. that captures the essence of the optimal family life: joy - pain; happy-sad; ups-downs. very nicely done.

  21. Engineering and Astrophysics. You go Sean!

  22. Somehow, due to an accident of clumsy fingers and the constant unpredictability of my tablet's touchscreen, I landed on your piece. Its title had been sufficiently opaque and appeared to promise little of the social and moral heft I normally seek in a NYT's opinion, that I repeatedly skipped over it. Our two sons have long left home. Our youngest, married, has a son of his own--our first grandchild--and still wonderfully lives close to us. Our oldest is teaching and working to establish his academic career at the University of Sydney and some 12 thousand miles away; we Skype with him regularly and see him once a year. So recognizing at a glance what we shared in common, I read your piece despite my initial feelings. I am not embarrassed to confess I was moved to tears. You triggered those feelings of loss and gratitude, fulfilment and emptyness, one finds confusing, even overwhelming, when one's children "leaves the nest." What a delightful morning gift and surprise! Thank you.

  23. Just love it when a family, today, sounds just a little like the Cleavers. :)

  24. And it is particularly gratifying when it may not look just like the Cleavers. ;)

  25. My thought, exactly, Peter!

  26. :) so very true

  27. Just brought my freshman daughter to college last week, can't remember what we ate the last night home. I wish Jennifer would have invited us for dinner!

  28. This was the best thing I've read all week. Thank you, Ms. Boylan, for sharing this piece with us. My own boys are still in diapers, but I can already feel the sting of their eventual absence from our daily life when they go off into the big world without my husband and me. Thank you for reminding me to pause and savor our little rituals.

  29. You touched a nerve my dear. I'm welling up right here in a doctors waiting room. On Monday my daughter is headed to her first day of real school here in the Czech Republic (starts here at first grade) and I am shockingly depressed and filled with a feeling of loss. She's 6. I tell her "this is it, real life starts now. Responsibilities and "have to"s are gonna start gradually taking over all the want to's and whimsical daily fun." She just smiles and says "don't worry daddy." Maybe she knows something I don't. Probably.

    Thanks for the article. It really hit home for me.

  30. I enjoyed this from the perspective of the kids in the family. Friday night was pizza night in our house too, hand-tossed by my dad. Now and again, my sister and I now well out of college, will revisit pizza night with our parents. Dad is still churning out delicious pies and the conversation around the table is never lacking.

    Thanks for sharing - these are the moments that we remember.

  31. Nobody else has sufficient contempt for the disapprobation of others to write it, so I will, and perhaps kick off a discussion of the similarly politically incorrect (in this forum, anyway).

    There are probably a lot of Americans who would condemn the notion of a transgender English professor waxing misty over a rapidly emptying nest, and the simple traditions around which a family built their shared lives. But a couple of things occur to me that I'd like to share with those Americans.

    The first is that this op-ed describes a life about as American as any that can be imagined, and how can there be threat in that? The second is a recognition of the monumental courage it took for a human being so committed to a different life to carve, in the end, one that so resonates with our national traditions.

    If ever there could be a true definition of "winner", it would need to be accompanied by a picture of Jennifer Finney Boylan.

  32. With only one word I want to describe this article - NOSTALGIC.
    It reminds me of my sister who has recently moved to another city for her studies. Will share this article with her too.

  33. dough on the grill?
    and let it bubble up?
    i dont understand. please explain.

  34. Perfect. Family rituals matter in ways that we may not comprehend until the ritual is no more.