Sunday brunch with the grandmas

Dear friends: I’m sharing a poem today. Perhaps you know the feeling, when you’re surrounded by friends sharing pictures of their children or grandchildren and you don’t have much to contribute. To the women with whom I shared this meal, I had a good time, really. I love you both, your grandkids are adorable, and I hope to do it again soon. Just  . . . well, it’s a little different for those of us who don’t have kids.

At Georgie’s on Sunday after church,
my friends, both grandmothers,
shared photos on their phones
while I ate my eggs Benedict,
nodding and cooing words of praise
for little Raegan and Jaxon
and Jackson with a K and Dylan
and Damon and Madison.

“They’re getting big so fast.”
“He’s such a handsome boy.”
But I couldn’t quite melt the way
real women who’ve had babies do,
that catch in the voice, that
“Isn’t she precious? Oh my Gosh.
Look at those itty bitty hands”
as they remember another baby’s fingers
touching their breasts as they nursed
or squeezing their daddy’s giant thumb.

My eggs were cooked just right,
not too runny, the hollandaise
creamy around the ham, so thick
I scooped it up with my fork.
I was tempted to lick the plate.
Out the west-facing windows,
the winter ocean thrashed,
all white froth and gray
one shade darker than the sky.

A grandma flipping through her phone:
“Did you see my grandson’s fiancée?”
“No,” said the other. “Oh, she’s beautiful.
Would you look at that gorgeous ring.”
My plate was empty now, but they
had barely touched their food,
feasting instead on grandmother pride.
I sucked the ice left in my glass.
When our waitress brought our separate checks,
they finally put their phones away
to eat blueberry pancakes and sausages.

“So Sue, how’s your dad?” a grandma asked.
“Doing really well at 95.”
And that was all I had to say.
My phone is full of dogs and trees
I could have shared my baby niece
if my phone weren’t sitting in the car,
but I have to admit it’s not the same,
this stranger who lives so far away,
whose pictures I save from Facebook posts,
but you have to offer what you’ve got
when you’re sharing a booth in Grandma Land.

 

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.