When your friends become grandparents

“I’m going to be a grandma!” my friend shouted over the phone from Texas. We hadn’t talked in almost a year, but now here she was telling me that her daughter was eight months pregnant with a little girl.

My friend went on and on about the baby, about baby clothes and baby furniture. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. She had no clue that while I’m happy for her, it felt like another rock piled on the mountain of gloom already crushing me. What did I have to report? Illness, car crash, dog limping, crazy new boss at work, and I felt like I was getting a cold. Babies? Two of my cousins keep posting pictures online of their adorable young ones that I have never met. I hear babies crying at the back of the church. I see parents with their children everywhere I go. But I don’t get to buy any baby clothes. I’d just like to hold a baby sometime.

This sounds way too sorry for myself. But here’s the thing. My friend and I grew up together, always best friends. Except for going to different colleges, our lives had a lot of parallels. We both married divorced men with three kids. We both lost our husbands a few years ago, mine to Alzheimer’s, hers to a heart attack. We both struggled with loneliness, aging, and dying relatives. The only difference was that she had a daughter.

When she finally took a breath, I mentioned that this was something I could never share with her. She responded, “But you’re a grandmother through Fred’s kids.”

Not really. Not the way I think about grandmothers and grandchildren, certainly not the way my grandmothers were to me. I talked about how I don’t see my stepchildren, have no connection beyond Facebook with them or their children since Fred died. I wish I did. All those years living in Oregon while they were still in California took a toll, plus they have their own grandmother and great-grandmother close by. I see the pictures on Facebook.

My friend admitted that she has lost track of two of her husband’s kids and the other one has no plans to have children, so she kind of understands.

Exactly. Sometimes I hear about stepmothers who are so close to their stepchildren and step-grandchildren that all the barriers dissolve and they feel like family. But it didn’t happen for me or my friend. Oh, we took on the titles, laughing at how odd it was to be “grandmothers” in our 30s, but only now with her biological daughter having a baby, does it feel like the real thing. I am so jealous.

I know a lot of you are still at the age where your friends are just becoming mothers, and I remember how hard that is. It doesn’t help when people keep asking when you’re going to have your baby. It’s still hard when you get older. I was just thinking how great it would be to have the phone ring and someone say, “Hi Mom, how are you?” Or, “Hey, Grandma, I’m coming to see you.” These are the kind of thoughts that will make you crazy.

Meanwhile, this morning I was sitting on the couch with my dog sleeping in my lap and I got to thinking that maybe God was wise to keep me from being a mom. My dog has fleas and another ear infection. I rarely groom her, and her collar’s all worn out. If I had human children, they’d probably be running around with crooked teeth, untied shoes and outgrown clothes because their mother was always so busy writing and playing music. And God knows what I’d put in their lunch bags: frozen meatballs and cold tortillas? On the other hand, my dog felt completely safe and loved in my lap. Maybe that’s what counts the most.

What do you think about all this? I welcome your comments.

38 thoughts on “When your friends become grandparents

  1. I am childless (by choice), so I understand some of what you address here.

    When I was young and in the hospital for long stretches of time, I was the recipient of tenderness and love from volunteer “grandmas.” They would read to me, talk with me, and just be a source of warmth and comfort.

    Fast forward 40 years and I’ve been the adult — offering tenderness and love to youngsters in need.

    The world is full of children — from babies to young adults — who feel lonely and afraid, and appreciate the undivided attention of a caring person. Reach out, for them and for yourself. 🙂


  2. Hi Sue, this was quite poignant. I felt your inner struggle, yet I also know something in you is genuinely happy for your friend to experience the luxury of being a biological grandmother. And if your child had crooked teeth and all that, sooner or later you’d get that taken care of; we all know the main thing is that the child is loved, healthy and safe from harm.

    Your transparency is so empowering for those in our shoes.

    I e-mailed you not long ago on this very subject. In my 20’s I lost my friends as they announced one by one, and repeatedly, “I’m pregnant!” And now in my 50’s after waiting decades to spend quality girlfriend time with them, and now that their kids are grown and out of the house on their own, I’m thinking, yay, we can finally do a girlfriend getaway or whatever fun event they want to do, and poof: “I’m going to be a grandmother!” and so for the 2nd time, I’ve lost my friends yet again all these years later after waiting so long….. because I can’t and I shouldn’t compete with their grandkids for their attention.

    Like you, I’m genuinely happy for them, and want the best for them but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous.

    I’m happy for your friend, but it struck me as clod-headed that she literally expected your 2 situations to be the same. This is truly a journey one has to experience firsthand to understand even the most basic concepts.


    • Shiloh, thank you for your kind words. You’re right. Now we’re into the grandma club business. I am happy for my friend. She has gone through a whole lot of bad stuff, especially in the last few years and is finally having good things happen. I’m sure if we lived closer, she would share the grandmother journey with me, but here I am with my dog.


  3. Omg. I would love to be eloquent in my reponse, but it won’t be. I love the honesty of this post; I love to read somebody else say what I am feeling; I am grateful to not feel like I am a bitter self centered b!+@# for what I am feeling/thinking simply by seeing someone understands it. I have been in a funk, as my husband’s family is so child-centered and trying to explain my experience to him falls on deaf ears. I have adult step children–let’s just call that situation complicated. It is so difficult for me sometimes–keep in my mouth shut when I disagree with choices made in raising the grandchildren–and it just leaves me feeling more like the oddball. My best childhood friend’s wife had a baby. He was always a support in this childless “thing.” He is now that parent that is all about the baby. Too many baby things going on too close to me with no one around that understands. Omg. Thank you for this post!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Some of us who were responsible while waiting for ‘Mr. Right’ to show up are now dealing with the gloating females who flaunt their children and grandchildren (many who were conceived – deliberately -out of wedlock in order to trap their idiot boyfriends to the altar). As someone who came from an abusive alcoholic family, I wanted to marry and have children the right way and with a sober fellow. Unfortunately, I had to act as watchdog for my family, protecting them from a drunk while everyone else had a relatively normal adolescence and found their husbands/boyfriends while they were young. As I got a later start it seems like I missed the good guy boat. Bugs me to no end how society treats even the most selfish of mothers with more respect and admiration than I have ever received. Guess there’s no reward for the sacrifices of those of us who cared more about their potential children than we did about ourselves…..

    Liked by 1 person

      • Sue,

        Having stepsons, I skipped parenthood and went to being a grandparent. I do feel I missed a lot.


      • Really? Having a first grandchild is joy and a miracle. It’s NORMAL to celebrate in all cultures! You should be happy for your friends. Not jealous!


      • Katveron, perhaps you don’t understand how painful this can be for someone who will never be a mother or grandmother. They might be happy for their friends, but at the same time, the new arrival emphasizes what they can never have.

        Liked by 1 person

      • @katveron You came to a blog that is a support group for men and women who would love to have biological children if they could but for whatever reason, often because of the spouse they married, they cannot have their own bio children.

        There is intense and misunderstood grief in this loss.

        Your comment only proves the overwhelming need for support for this grossly overlooked and very painful issue.

        If your comment and your presence here is to shame us, please move on.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. “Bugs me to no end how society treats even the most selfish of mothers with more respect and admiration than I have ever received. Guess there’s no reward for the sacrifices of those of us who cared more about their potential children than we did about ourselves…..”

    @Shannon..This sums it up really well and I’ve noticed the same. My mother had me because her marriage was bad, she was lonely and she wanted a child to fill that void. She only had me, because as she admitted later in life, she didn’t want to have to touch my father again to create another. I didn’t want to have children unless I had a real family to bring them into. In my mind this meant a husband who wanted them and would be a good father who I had a healthy relationship with, as well as siblings. I didn’t want to bring a child into the same situation I was raised in, always feeling less than because I didn’t have the family that many of my friends had. Sure people have kids by surprise in lots of circumstances, or things happen beyond their control. I know not everyone can have two parents who love each other, but I didn’t want to intentionally and knowingly bring a baby into a bad situation.

    As it turned out, I never found the family that I wanted my children to be born into. I never found a husband that wanted them and ended up marrying one that didn’t. I really beat myself about that and went back and forth about that decision, but then I got to the age (nearly 40) that at best there was time for a last minute under the wire only baby, but I’d have to raise him or her alone and it didn’t seem right to do on purpose with limited support and financial resources. I felt like the best thing I could do for my potential children was to not bring them into the world in the first place, but you’re right. There is certainly no reward for doing that.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My soon-to-be ex said, “You skipped parenthood and went straight to Grandpa.” God, that hurt! But I suffered in silence. I married late and never had my own kids. But I can no longer handle the resentment within in me. Therefore, I’m in the process of leaving my wife for a beautiful 20-year-old Colombian girl to start my OWN family. Many of you will say that I’m robbing the cradle. Don’t go there with me! You will lose and be made to look very foolish. But dammit, it’s my turn to be happy! I have tried to love my step-grandsons as my own. I simply cannot do it. That’s seen as an evil in me, I’m sure. But these are my true feelings. Yes, to all you women who hate older men and younger women, I can keep up with her, in every way. I’ll be happy with my own little family, although very late in life, or die trying. I’m trying to get through the anger and resentment that has been pent up for years. I’m not doing very well with it. Counseling is out, as I think most of them are charlatans. I can tell you that being a stepfather has been the emptiest, most unfulfilling experience of my life. If I’m wrong. so be it.


  7. Okay, I’m late to comment here.

    You can’t necessarily be a grandparent through your spouse’s kids. I’m not allowed to be grandmother – there’s an age gap between me and my husband, and my stepdaughter (only a few years younger than me) ‘jokingly’ said I was too young to be a grandmother when she had her daughter. (It’s been quite clear that DH’s first wife has influenced this.)

    Give him his due, DH suggested I could be an honorary aunt, but that suggestion was knocked back by his daughter.

    Cut to 14 yrs later, and we finally got a Christmas card that addressed me as ‘Aunt’. I’m afraid that – by then – I reckoned it was just too late. I’m pleasant with the family, I organise the birthday and Christmas presents, but that’s it.

    My husband has been an invalid for a few years, now, and my stepdaughter has been kind enough to say how glad she and her brother are that their dad has me, but there’s no real family feeling there.

    I once got a joint birthday card from them when my DH reminded them, and I do get a joint present of toiletries from them at Christmas now, so I suppose that’s some acknowledgement of being part of the family. I’ve been married to their father for 22 years, I always organise their cards and birthday presents. I reckon that if (in all that time) they can only manage one birthday card between them to me, then I know where I stand.


    • mrspolygot-Sounds to me like your husband’s ex poisoned your steps toward you. What did you ever do to her? I venture to say nothing. Being a stepparent to me has been the emptiest, most lackluster experience I’ve ever had.
      My youngest stepson and his wife had two boys,making my wife a bio grandmother. She’s over the moon about them. Frankly, while I care for them, I’m kind of indifferent toward them. They aren’t mine. They aren’t MY flesh and blood and to me that means a lot. I’ve heard many people say that you can love someone else’s children like your own. HOGWASH ! Maybe some people can. I can’t. For years, this was seen as an evil in me. But I don’t see it that way. Whenever we go see the boys, I don’t spend a lot of time with them. I’ve tried to be grandfatherly and I just can’t do it. I feel your pain and frustration. In fact, I feel like an intruder and an outsider around them. My wife is hurt by this, I’m sure. But she’s hurt my family in many ways. There’s a Spanish saying, “Segundo plata en la mesa”, It means the second plate on the table. That’s how I feel. My cousins say that I’m wrong. In their eyes I maybe am. Frankly, I don’t care what they think. These are my feeling and they are valid. If it hurts some feelings, c’est la vie. At least I’m honest..


      • It was the case that the ex did that, I’m afraid. (When the granddaughter was a toddler, she used to gravitate towards me. If her biological grandmother was there, she ‘accidentally’ hit me, I kid you not – she must have the clumsiest elbow on the planet…)

        The kids are actually close to my age (which is part of the problem) but they were also given incorrect info about the marriage break-up.

        They understand the situation now, but things will never be how they should have been.

        I’m sorry you’re in so much pain. I do know people who tell me that their step-grandchildren are just the same as their own, but they all have biological grandchildren as well.


  8. I was wondering if other people felt my pain. I do have two adult children, one that has been married five years. Neither of my children wants to have children. I am heartbroken. For some silly reason, I always thought I would be a grandmother. It’s hard to watch my younger sisters becoming grandparents. How not to be envious eludes me. So, for the first time in 30 years, my husband and I will be adopting a rescue dog. I guess we all have to be content with the cards dealt to us. Easier said than done.


    • Sherri,

      That’s tough. I’ve been through that as well. Lord does it hurt! I wish I knew the answer. But I don’t. I know that life is a crap shoot. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. It used to bother me when ex-girlfriends had babies. That’s life. Stepkids just don’t illicit the same emotions.


    • Hello Sherri. This is a really really late response to your post, so please accept my apology! I am in the exact same place you are in your life. My husband and I have three grown children. Our eldest daughter is 38 and very career-minded. She is independent and very competent. She hasn’t found a man yet that she feels she would want to share her life with. She had contemplated having a baby without a husband, but after much thought and advice from others, has decided she would only want a baby if she would be able to have a father whom she is married to. Our second daughter is 33, married but she and her husband have decided that they want to remain childless for whatever personal reasons they have decided. Our youngest son, who is 30, has been active duty military for the past eight years and is deployed overseas and there are no romantic interests on the horizon for him. My husband and I always thought we would be grandparents! It just never occurred to us that we would not. I know that whatever happens is God’s will and whatever our children want for their lives is their decision, but that is not the part that stings the most. It is listening to our friends go ON and ON about their grandchildren and then pointing out to us that we probably don’t “get it” because we aren’t one! The latest stinging arrow was from a co-worker who became a grandmother at the age of 35. Yes she was a teen mom and voila, that daughter is now a teen mom! I was making blankets for rescue cats in the shelter my daughter and husband volunteer at, and rescued two kittens from, and showing my co-workers the materials I was using and pictures of the kitties snuggled with all the blankets I made and a young co-worker pointed out, “oh how nice, I can see you are all over those blankets as that’s as close to having grandkids as you are probably ever going to get”. I was stunned. I wish everyone well, and hope everyone has healthy grandkids, but I just want to form a club for those like myself! No grandchildren club. Thanks for listening,


      • I hear you, Lisa Z. I too am surrounded by grandparents and feel left out. Even if you do have children, you have no control over whether or not they have children. Hang in there. You are not alone.


      • Lisa Z, I’m so sorry your co-irker said such a horrible thing to you. It was indeed a low blow. I feel so sorry that person has so little empathy. I can’t help but wonder if it was the person who became a teen mom and her daughter followed suit. Time and time again, I find that my co-irkers are least compassionate of my personal life, as well as more likely to gossip than others in my life. The only silver lining for you is that you know without question you can’t trust this shallow person with your personal feelings and thoughts because they have exposed their true heart to be untrustworthy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your kind response. Yes, as a matter of fact it was teen mom. You are right about sharing information. It all seems so ridiculous. This isn’t a contest. None of us is getting out of life alive in the end! I always am interested in others stories they want to share, but I will now have to be careful what I share to protect my heart. It’s a shame because I spend over 40 hours a week with these people


      • I am in the same boat. My kids don’t want any babies. Always thought I’d be a Grandma one day. I, too, wish there was a “No Grandkids” club. There needs to be one. My friends just don’t get it. It’s getting hard to spend time with them. I feel jealous all the time. I wish there was a way to get over this feeling of jealousy all the time. It’s not a pleasant way to live.


  9. May I share a perhaps different perspective? I am a minister’s child and came from a strong sense of being wanted and having provision and blessings and jobs come my way at each step of the way in my life. Not before, but always at the right time. Never craving marriage even, I had three proposals before I said yes to the fourth, waited until I had peace about the one. Had a child within six months of trying but never wanted more biological children. As a teacher, I have instead helped “birth” young folk into their destinies.

    Yet, I have had struggles, one of them being a jealous sister-in-law who at 16 aborted a child and hated me because of my “luck” and tried to break up the marriage. I have had things almost too painful to talk about here, too, in terms of tragedy happening to me. Many look at me from the outside and just THINK nothing has ever gone wrong with me because God has given me a great gift over and over, the ability to overcome trial and great joy that is real, not feigned.

    So it is hard being the object of jealousy, too, very hard.

    Especially when I look at the relationship some of these women friends who are childless have had with their own mothers with the latter living into their 90s.

    You see, my mother committed suicide, hallucinating from Parkinson’s disease `and those “strangers” in the room we hear about on television ads about 50% of Parkinson’s patients.

    Do you think when my friends were out celebrating Mother’s Day with their moms and still do, that I wasn’t hurting?

    No one would ever know unless and until I tell them. But, I give my pain to God and practice “the presence.”

    I don’t live in self-pity. I practice being thankful for having had a mother 18 years. For being thankful for the pluses in my life. I have heard students tell me they have never seen me not happy. I tell them I don’t put out negativity because I don’t like being around people who do. We all have rain fall on us in this life. No one escapes it unless he/she dies prematurely.

    My stepmother was orphaned at age 4 and never had anyone tuck her into bed growing up. In some ways, she had it worse than I did. I give thanks for her dear life and HER overcoming spirit. She has been in my life now 47 years.

    And the point? The person OR situation you may be jealous of could have gone through a sheer hell that is perhaps even greater than your own.

    Put things into perspective.


    • I work to purposefully keep things in perspective. However minimizing someone’s suffering is not helpful. I have not minimized your suffering and don’t appreciate it when someone minimizes mine.

      The reality is that we are all in a different place on this journey. Some turn to their faith (like me), others don’t. People receive healing at whatever pace they receive it. It could take decades for some.

      Speaking as a Christian, it is my role to love and accept people in their deepest, ugliest, most agonizing pain. It is not my role to judge them for speaking from or acting upon their vulnerable woundedness.

      While I agree with the summation of your post, the tone came across as somewhat harsh. As childless, we are already judged a hundred ways by society. Please don’t add to that list.


  10. And I am to become a grandmother in September, a month after my husband and I MOVE to our much longed for retirement home. Irony. We’ll be back a lot, though to help out.


  11. Sue,

    My soon-to-be ex and I had a bad argument, and I unloaded years of resentment. I told her that I don’t want to visit her grandsons. They aren’t mine and it bothers me to be around them. I know it hurt her, so what ? I told her that I’m leaving and I’ve retained an attorney. We’ve been having problems for years. Anyway, I get so envious when I see friends have grandkids f their own. My Colombian lady will be here soon, and we’re starting our own little family. I know many people say that I’m a clouche leaving an older wife for a younger woman. But they have no idea what I’ve been through, And Father’s Day. I’d rather have a root canal with a colonoscopy on the side than suffer through Father’s Day.


  12. I love the one about “I just want to form a club for those like myself! No grandchildren club. ” Please, we couldn’t have children in 1980, really no great fertilization methods abounding, so we simply didn’t. My husband + I led professional careers, now we are both retired, he is 72 + I am 68. What irks me is social media + the likes of it: Please don’t throw your grandkids in my face every other day with multiple pictures. Yes, they’re cute but they look the same as last week! And I have a very best friend since I was 18 years old, since nursing school days, who has 5 grandchildren, who doesn’t throw her grand-stuff down my throat. Yes, we see one another every month for lunch. She sometimes says she is jealous of me for not having kids, never having to worry or seeing them sad. I told her, “You don’t know what I’ve bee through all my Life !!” Always meeting a new woman and one of the first questions is “Do you have children? Grandchildren?” After a simple “No,” the look of the asking-woman is one of sheer pity. I want to hold her and say it’s OK. Great site by the way. I will have to pick up your book.


  13. I am childless and therefore will never be a grandmother. What surprises me and I assume those around me is that I’m okay with it. As an older woman now still working, I have several women friends who are all grandmothers. I think there are times when they feel sorry for me and I wish they wouldn’t. I’m okay with it, I really am, and that’s a blessing. The hard part for me is finding women in my age group who have time and freedom to go out and do things because they are so very tied down with grown children or their grandchildren. One of my friends at age 65 took on the task of caregiving her triplet grandchildren. This woman is completely tied down. She seems happy with her choice but tired. I recently walked away from that friendship, She had to keep canceling or not making plans because she is babysitting so much. When I try to get women together, it is so hard. They are busy with kids. I never thought I would reach this time in my life where I’m free to do things but can’t find other women who are free. Life is so ironic.


  14. I am so glad I found this group. I don’t feel so alone with my dad feelings. I married a great guy who has three grown children from a previous marriage. We were unable to have children ourselves, but that is something we came to terms with, and are OK with. The big problem is that since I didn’t have children of my own or with my husband, I am treated like I know nothing about children and have nothing to offer. Ironically, I work with children with developmental needs and their families. The other problem is my husband’s ex made sure we don’t have a relationship with two of his kids. One son does have a relationship with us, so we had a high hopes when his daughter was born. There were promises made everyone would be treated equally and I would be Grandma.
    Well, I might be Grandma in name, but definitely not in anything else. If we are at function, that includes his ex, my daughter-in-law’s family, and us, we segregated to the back of the function. We were even told to show up a birthday party at a different time than everyone else.
    If we do spend time with my stepson, his wife, and daughter, it feels like has to be in secret.
    It became very obvious when granddaughter crawled for the first time at our house. We were not allowed to post the video on social media until the parents did. That was understandable. The sad part was that when they did post it, it was a different a video done at their own place two days later. When we asked why the original video was not shown, we were told it would hurt the bio grandmothers’ feelings since it happened at our house. I just knew then, I really was not a grandma.
    It just feels like a knife in the gut. My husband has been supportive with my feelings but he is hurt too.
    We decided that we cannot control how others deal with us, but we can control how much they affect us.
    I do get sad when see others have great relationships with their children and grandchildren ( both step and bio,) and know that won’t be us. But, then I remember my husband and I are happy with each other. I am happy with my life choices. And I conclude that we will live a happy life, with or without them. Thank you for indulging me with this lengthy post.


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