“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.