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.