Grandmother Grief

You never know when the childless grief will hit. It’s like a bullet lodged inside your heart. For a long time, you don’t feel it, but then it shifts and hurts unbearably until it finds a new resting place. At least that’s how it is for me.

The other night at a poetry reading, the group’s founder brought her granddaughter. I had heard her say that she was “smitten” with this child, and now I could see why. About four years old, she looked like a tiny version of Grandma with the same curly hair and dimples. They spent all evening together, snuggling, looking through the camera, talking and laughing. My friend was in the throes of grandma love, something I will never experience.

Oh, I envied her for this love affair and for the easy way in which she handled the child, clearly well-practiced from her years of motherhood. Yes, the child disrupted the program; yes, her grandmother had to take her out, and yes, the venerable poet at the podium stopped reading to comment on their exit, but Grandma didn’t seem to mind.

The poems I read at that night’s open mike drew praise and applause, and I felt cute in my cap and vest, but that dislodged grief bullet still hurt.

I love my puppies, but it is not the same.

Someone commented here recently about the desire for children being driven by vanity. There’s some of that. Babies can be something to show off and impress people with, but that’s not all there is to it. The love between a child and a parent or grandparent is a special love and an extension of the family into the future. It’s what every other species does naturally. Looking ahead, I see no one, just an aging poet growing old alone.

Side note: The featured poet was Carlos Reyes, and his poems are wonderful. Read more about him at and sample three of his poems at

4 thoughts on “Grandmother Grief

  1. I just wanted to clarify that I don’t think it is ENTIRELY vanity that drives the desire for children – I certainly wouldn’t want you to think I am dismissing your yearnings as “just vanity”. It’s mutli-faceted and highly complicated.And of course there is an aspect of vanity to NOT having children – I am witnessing my friends’ very real struggles with their body image after giving birth. I know a woman in her 60s who, 30+ years after having children, still blames herself for her pot belly – and her husband also chided her for being ‘lazy’. Complexities abound!


  2. I am childless by marriage (x3!). My husband has grown-children, and I have become “grandma” to his daughter's babies.

    My step-daughter's mother is deceased, so I am the only grandma her children will ever know. How wonderful it is to have a child sit on my lap and say, “I love you, grandma.”

    But it is also a reminder of what I never had. They are not MY children.


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