Raising children is like making a cherry pie. It’s a messy job but the ideal of that lovely, sweet-tasting consumption is what makes us grasp the rolling pin and work that dough with high expectations of perfection.

I am in the mist of raising five children; three of whom are teenagers. I, personally, think all my children are lovely; like the ripe cherries I choose for my pie.

This is not to say that my children are perfect. Not at all. Do you want me to begin the list of vices I have to remind them to fight against day in and day out? And then remind myself to do likewise? Do you want me to tell you of the incident we found out about last week which one teenager had hid from us the week before? Probably not. That's invading my child's privacy as well as my own.

It's just to say that while everything may look blog-perfect on your computer screen, real life is seldom so perfect.

It's like a nicely baked cherry pie with perfectly crimped edges and tiny pine tree air-vents adorning the top. It's picture-perfect and lovely; until you cut into it and pull the first steaming slice out of the pie pan. The plumb cherries fall onto the countertop. The crust cracks in half and light crusty flakes that would do Crisco proud shower down onto the plate. The contents of the pie in the pan begin to ooze into the empty reservoir in a jelly, sticky mess. The pie is no longer picture-perfect, is it?

But...it is what it is.

The image of that lovely pie is still implanted in your mind and serves as the ideal outcome for the next time you bake.

And the next time.

And the next time.

As Dickens would say "God bless us!" that the sweet things in life are so tempting that we want to experiment with them. We want to mold them and pat them with butter, and prep them.

Sometimes a prick of the knife and a crimp of the fork are necessary to mold it correctly. But we love the fruit of our labor.

No matter the mess that comes with baking and raising children, no matter how it all falls apart the minute you slice into it eager to show your handiwork to others; it's still the picture-perfect pie adorning your tabletop that you want and desire, that you try your hand at again and again and again.

And, in reality, wouldn't life really be a mess if that lovely pie was never touched, never eaten, never enjoyed? Simply left sitting there to spoil and rot. A waste of the creator's handiwork, that’s for sure.

My child gets a chance to go to confession every week and redeem herself. For a brief moment, her soul will be like that freshly baked cherry pie pulled straight out of the oven. Thank heavens the Church offers us a place to cool off after we’ve jumped into the oven. God rolls the dough back out and starts fresh all over again. It’s another miracle of the loaves; only this time, it’s pie dough.

Copyright 2009 Cay Gibson