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.

 

Childlessness by marriage: It’s a question of timing

A friend told me about a family member of hers who is dating a man who wants to have children. He’s not interested in adoption, only in having a biological child of his own. But she’s 42. She has already had children from her first marriage, and she has had her tubes tied. It’s the reverse of the situation many of us women face. I don’t know these people, but I feel for them. There’s no happy solution, is there?

It comes down to a matter of timing. In the days when most people only got married once and stayed married for life, they would have their children together. Now, with divorce being so common and people delaying marriage into their 30s and 40s, we have men and women who didn’t have children marrying people who have already had them and don’t want any more. Sometimes there’s an age difference, but it’s more often a difference in life experience. Those who are parents lived through the baby-making stage of their lives with other people. If you weren’t doing the same thing, you missed your chance. Maybe you can convince your partner to start over, but he or she would probably rather not. It’s a tough situation.

Your thoughts?

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Thank you for your birthday wishes yesterday. It was a good birthday. It was a little light on the family side, but a wonderful group of woman friends treated me to lunch and showered me with music, cards and gifts. Afterwards, Annie and I took a long walk on the beach. I treated myself to raviolis for dinner and talked to a friend on the phone for over an hour, the way we used to do when we were kids.

I really didn’t miss having children yesterday. I was surrounded by women approximately my age. Most do have children and there was some talk of them, but I have known their children since they were little and I care about them. Now that the kids are grown, their mothers have lots of other things to talk about. In some ways, this was easier than celebrating with children and grandchildren, with whom I would have less in common–and whom I would probably have to feed and entertain. I feel as if I have made a good start on building a community of sisters with whom I can spend the important occasions of my life.

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And the winner is: Now, to the important matter of my birthday book giveaway. The winning commenter is (drum roll) Anonymous Childless by Female Parts. Anon, please email me at sufalick@gmail.com to give me your mailing information and which book you would like: Azorean Dreams (a novel), Stories Grandma Never Told: Portuguese Women in California, Freelancing for Newspapers or Shoes Full of Sand (a memoir).

Ladies Without Babies

Today, I just want to share this poem I found in my files. I wrote it when I was really having a hard time with the whole childless thing. I admit that some of this does not apply to ladies with dogs.

Ladies without babies
have kittens and puppies
and goldfish with names.
They treat them like dolls,
they pretend to play house,
but it certainly isn’t the same.

Ladies without babies
have neat little houses
with reachable knick-knacks
and cream-colored carpets,
glass without noseprints,
low-hanging spice racks.

Ladies without babies
get nervous when mommies
bring fat drooling babies
to spread crumbs and dribble
on white satin sofas
and rip up their papers.

Ladies without babies
become doting aunties
to nephews and nieces
whose photos they flash
when ladies with babies
share latest releases.

Ladies without babies
have big empty laps,
breasts never needed to nurse.
Like girls in a play
with a family of dolls,
their wombs can only rehearse.

Copyright 2010 Sue Fagalde Lick