You didn’t give me any grandchildren!

Merry Christmas! Or if you don’t do Christmas, enjoy whatever you do celebrate. Why am I posting on Christmas? Am I not busy? Well . . . not so much. The bio family is far away. The friend family is busy with their kids and grandkids. I’m having dinner with friends later, but now, I’ve got time.

Are you making yourselves crazy by reading all the posts online about everybody’s family Christmas celebrations? Well, turn it off. Go for a walk. Right after you read this, of course.

For parents and grandparents, Christmas is exhausting and expensive. I visited with a friend the other day who said he had something like 35 kids and grandkids to honor for Christmas. He married into most of them.

My husband’s cousin met her current husband after both of their longtime spouses died. He came with a huge family, too. She was planning to feed 30 of them on Christmas Eve. This morning, she and her husband planned to fly to Denver to visit her one daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. I’m tired just thinking about it.

I’m not complaining about getting to stay home and cook only for me while the family celebrates far away and the friends do their own family thing. Sounds selfish, but it’s true. But maybe, if I had kids and grandkids . . .

I see all those pictures of my friends cuddling their little ones, I see all the great things in the stores that I could buy for my grandchildren, and I imagine all the family events that won’t be happening—Christmas, First Communion, graduation, weddings, babies–and I feel a little ripped off. Annie the dog and I are good, but imagine how much fuller our lives could be.

I was reading an article about “grandchildlessness.” That’s such a long word. How about NonGrammas and NonGramps? Here’s the link. The author is writing about Australia, but one could tell a similar story almost anywhere these days. All of us who are not having children are also not giving our parents grandchildren. Our parents don’t have much control over that.

If we’re lucky, our siblings fill the gap. If not, well, think about how lousy we feel when people start hauling out the baby pictures. When you get to be my age, it’s the grandbaby pictures. You can counter with pictures of nieces, nephews and cousins, but we all know it’s not the same.

How do we help our parents to understand and accept what’s so hard for us to understand and accept? My parents kept quiet on the subject. They had my brother’s kids, and they knew being childless was a source of pain for me. My second husband’s mother said she had so many grandchildren from her three boys already that she had no need for more.

If I had stayed married to my first husband and remained childless, I can imagine it would have been different. His mother really wanted grandchildren. She was all about her Catholic-raised kids following the standard program. She had already bought a few baby things in the hope of prodding us into parenthood. I do not believe she would ever have a found a way to let it go if we said, “Nope, not having kids.” In fact, she might have nagged us enough that my ex would have given in. But if he only agreed to have children because everyone was ragging on him about it, what good would that be? She never had any grandchildren. That makes me sad. But it’s a trend, and it’s growing.

Has anyone nagged you to make grandbabies? How do you feel about not giving your parents grandchildren? Are they bugging you about it this Christmas?

How are your holidays going? Are you with the stepchildren or your bio family or on your own? Is it a happy day or a fighting-tears kind of day? Feel free to share in the comments.

Merry Christmas, hugs to all of you. See you next year!



7 thoughts on “You didn’t give me any grandchildren!

  1. Not the best but definitely not the worst. If I try hard to count the pros and cons, I know the positives are in greater numbers. A New Year’s resolution which my husband and I agreed to is to spend 2020 focusing on the positives, even when family situations are challenging.

    And there were challenges this year. The “awful sister-in-law” had a new baby. Another sister-in-law who has a mean streak spent the whole gathering giggling and whispering with “Awful SIL,” even though she knows how very awful the woman is. I shouldn’t take it personally at all. But it grinds me. And sometimes you can just tell when people are needling you. I looked around the party, and I realized how much this family hurts. Just general dysfunction. All these years, I thought I was on the “outs,” but the truth is – everyone was using their own coping mechanism to get themselves through the party. Some are better than others.

    Makes me think of the future. Those families who have children close to each other will naturally stay close. Their dysfunction merges together in a way we can’t. I imagine that when parents pass and gatherings change – these people will celebrate together, and my husband and I “might” get invited. We won’t want to go, so we’ll have to plan our own thing.

    Maybe my family will save the day? But watching my own brother and his family (who are not weirdly, mind-gamey, dysfunctional) and how close they are, I can see now that if we’re included in their family it would be out of kindness, not really a desire to have us intrude on their family. And this is where the challenge starts. Do you focus on their kindness – attend – knowing that they have sacrificed their personal family time? Or do you bow out – thankful that you had the invite – and celebrate alone. I mean, sometimes it feels like no one wins and you are only a nuisance.

    We attended a church service of an entirely different faith this Christmas Eve. It was similar and nice. And the great positive was that my good friend invited us and tucked us under her wing the whole time. But the church didn’t feel like home. Nothing has for awhile now. We live in a new house this year (which we love).
    I “cheated” on my hair stylist of 15 years and, even though I loved the cut, don’t think that I didn’t feel like a jerk the whole time I was in that new woman’s chair. All positive changes but . . . hard. I’m starting to think that 2020 might be a year of shedding the things that trouble me. Dropping the bullies in my life – even if I’m related to them. Dropping bad habits – even if they bring me comfort. Just letting those negative things fall and having faith that the right things will piece together.

    I don’t know how much of these issues stem from not having children, but I’m starting to accept that these personal challenges may have kept me from building a life with children of my own. The holidays . . . make it harder.

    Sue, I hope your dinner with your friends was lovely. I hope your new church family felt good. I hope you enjoy the heck outta those expensive new earrings. Thank you for being here!! Happy New Year!!


    • Thanks, Anon. Sorry for the family drama. Dinner was nice, although we were joined this year by the children and grandchildren, many of whom had no idea who I was. They also had a new dog who was easy to relate to. Church was great, full of love and joy. While I pictured my brother having a terrific time with his family, it turned out they were at a hospital in Modesto. His 95-year-old mother-in-law had an “episode” they feared was a heart attack. It wasn’t. She’s okay, but their Christmas plans got turned upside down. So you never know. Happy New Year to you.


  2. Sue,
    If I don’t have any children, it would leave my parents grandchildless, as my brother is happily kidfree. Of course, I do want to have a child and hope it is in the cards for me. The holidays have been hard. My first since separating from my husband because he does not want any children. So, it’s been hard but I’m getting through. Like the commenter above, I hope to make 2020 a period of growth and leaning into being fully me. Leaving my marriage was so devastating this year, and I’m still trying to sift through the wreckage, but I will keep going forward.


  3. Not having given my parents any grandchildren is one of the saddest and hardest things to bear. My sister has always been anti-children so it was down to me, and it was in my “one day” plans for sure. So I feel even worse that I didn’t prioritize it and therefore never had a child (I married at almost 38, and a year later hubby changed his mind. I just couldn’t face the upheaval and trauma of leaving and starting all over again so late, which would have most likely meant remaining alone. And I knew I didn’t want to be a single mother – it’s just too hard. Huge respect to all the single mums out there.).

    My father in particular would have been a truly wonderful Grandpa, he’s so gentle and loves teaching, sharing what he knows and instilling a love of nature, sport and literature. Both parents were and are brilliant with kids, in fact.

    Christmas with the family is always bittersweet, still being the kid of the group even now in my 40s, with no little ones to give it the magic. It’s usually a day of fighting back the tears if I allow my thoughts to go there, though it gets a little easier every year. I think in the future I might start to ignore Christmas and just use it as a chance to travel. I don’t really see the point of putting up all the decorations, etc., just for us, especially as I always do it on my own.

    My parents haven’t said anything, and I know they both view the idea of raising children in this day and age with a kind of horror, all the awful things that you hear about, but having had two daughters, I think they would be justified in thinking that they’d at least get one grandchild to spoil. Our many fur babies just don’t really cut it!

    Anyway, c’est la vie, nothing for it but to carry on and keep reminding myself of all there is to be grateful for. Thanks for this blog, it’s so helpful and I hope you and Annie have had a good start to the new decade!


    • Thank you, Sarah, for this great comment and for your good wishes. Annie and I have had a good start to the new year. I’m thinking we should all meet somewhere warm next Christmas and party any way we want to.


  4. I always have a tearful Christmas. My heart remains broken without children of my own. Nothing else to do.


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