Ever feel grandparent envy?

If you think menopause might bring relief from your yearning for children and your envy of those who have them, think again. As Barbara Gordon writes in this Huffington Post piece titled “Grandparents: An Unexpected Envy,” we may make peace with not having children, but not having grandchildren is another kind of loss. Many of my friends are enjoying grandchildren these days. They leave town for frequent visits and show off the latest pictures on their cellphones and on Facebook. Their lives are all about the kids while mine is about work and the dog.
Not having grandchildren is having an odd effect on me these days. I can’t seem to understand my age. Maybe I’m crazy (probably), but without children and grandchildren to mark the generations, I feel stuck in a perpetual young adulthood. Now, that probably seems like a good thing, but my wrinkles and memories tell me I can’t be a kid forever. I don’t even want to; been there, done that. If I try to hang out with the young folks, they see me as an old grandma person. People my own age want to talk about their grandchildren and their travel adventures.

We’ve fallen off the life-cycle track. You’re a child, a teen, a young adult, a mom, a grandmother, an old lady. At each stage, younger generations take your place. For those of us who never have kids, it doesn’t work that way.

Sunday, we had a Baptism at church. The world’s cutest little boy, all dressed in white satin, received the water and blessings to join the Catholic church. His parents and godparents were attractive couples who seemed to be in their 20s. Sitting with the choir, I imagined what it would be like to stand up there holding a baby. Then I realized I would be the graying mom taking pictures. In reality, I’m neither. It’s confusing.

Am I nuts? Have you ever felt like you’ve lost your place in the generations by not having children? One of the women I quoted in my book said she no longer knew which table to sit at during holiday dinners because she didn’t have kids. Not a kid, can’t sit with the moms . . .

It’s something to think about.

8 thoughts on “Ever feel grandparent envy?

  1. Exactly!! I relate to young people more because I don't feel like a grandma {I'm a step-grandma but that doesn't count}. A few Sundays ago, the young man came to shear our llamas and brought his 4 year old daughter. She was soooo cute. After they left, my husband and I wished they were our son and granddaughter. My husband [who does have a daughter and a grandson that he has never met] said to me, “Look what I got instead.” His daughter is troubled soul, and I'm sure the grandson will have issues due to his mother.


  2. At 65 yrs of age and childless not by choice, my observation is, if you think your family/friends were obsessed with their children, that *utterly* and *totally* pales in comparison with ” grandbaby-rabies “. Understandable for them, another season of being the far outsider for me. Plus, as I've always been single, I totally qualify for the perpetual young(?) adulthood 'cause as I've heard more than twice ” you're not a REAL grownup 'til you're married,”
    (I found out in my early teens I'd never have children, btw)


  3. The grandparent thing is HUGE for grandparents. My mom has spent the last 15 years bemoaning the fact that I did not provide her any grandchildren. She has called me, crying ,so very sad I did not have children. She said they would have been quite interesting and intelligent kids. (Like any good grandma would say, right?) At times I feel much younger than women my age (45) with children. Fortunately, and oddly, most of my dearest friends did not have children. I wonder if there is a generational “cause” for so many women my age not having children, whether by choice or circumstance. I have a stepdaughter (25 years)and she and her husband are expecting. I wish I could feel more of an attachment to her and her family. Instead, I continue to exist in the unusual place of being 45 and childless.


  4. Anonymous, There may be a generational aspect to more women your age not having children. There's a real tendency to delay marriage and focus on career, so that motherhood gets put off and sometimes missed. We also tend to hang out with people with whom we have things in common. People with young children associate with other people who have children because they're constantly together at school, sports, scouts and other activities.
    I'm so blessed that my mom never bugged me about grandchildren. I know it was hard for her, too.


  5. I'm in my 30s, so not exactly grandmother age, but I just wanted to comment about how much I related to the “falling off the lifecycle track idea.” I feel like in a very short time I went from being a young 20 something, graduating from college, starting a career and getting married, to an old lady whose next steps in life are preparing for retirement and death. Without the normal middle steps of having a family I'm not exactly sure where I fit in or what I'm supposed to be doing. The career situation kinda fell flat, so that’s not really a passion or a focus anymore. I have a few younger single friends (for now) but I have lost touch with most friends my age because we just don't have anything in common anymore. As far as family events go, I have very little family anyway so I have mostly just pulled away, decided not to acknowledge holidays anymore because they just feel like they are for families, not for me. It seems like the next couple of decades are going to be pretty lonely. I was hoping it would end when I got much older and my generation's children have grown up but if then it becomes all about the grandchildren, I guess I'll never fit in again.


  6. I feel exactly the same as Anonymous on 11 June. I'm 43 and the kids just didn't happen and I still feel as if I am waiting for it. I feel that I have't grown up up yet as I am waiting for that part of my life. I haven't figured out how to grow up with it. I have had a recent shock to release that I am now older than my mum was when I was first married, and next year I will be the same age as as my mum was when I had my first miscarriage. I am devastated to realise that I have literally missed out on a whole generation. I am DREADING my friends' grandchildren coming along.


  7. I have friends of all ages. I have a great friend who is in her mid-60’s. My co-worker friend is 53. My husband is almost 3 years younger than I. It’s someone’s character that I become attracted to. I hardly have any friends my own age. I just can’t relate. Most have a child or two.


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