I’ve had two unexpected conversations recently that have given me pause for reflection. The first was with my father-in-law while dining over Mexican food in Kansas. While catching him up with our kids’ lives, he asked me if they were dating anyone of note. I told him that at the moment there were no significant others. Then, the bolt out of the blue,
“Oh, you must be sad that you won’t be having grandchildren anytime soon.”
“All of our friends’ mothers are on crazy grandma patrol. How come you aren’t nagging us about having babies?”
It started out as gentle teasing, but during the course of the discourse I got the feeling that they might be getting miffed by my lack of interest. Even though I know – good AND well – that neither of the girls are even remotely at a procreating place in life. In fact, one of them finds the birthing process so totally repulsive that she wants to be “knocked out like the good old days” should the event ever occur.
The truth is, if I were to start pestering them the slightest bit about producing a grandchild, I know I’d be in for a tongue lashing that only a resident of New York City could deliver. I’m not about to unleash that hound.
But I hadn’t really pondered the subject before, except in the abstract, so just the asking of the question got me thinking.
If I were to have a grandbaby, I think I would be the best grandma ever. That child would be the most loved and cherished little one on the face of the earth. I think David would be even nuttier, he’s crazy about kids and kids love him right back. It would be a battle just to pry the tot off of his aching, horsey back.
BUT, if I never have grandkids, that’s all right, too. I’m not one of those passing-along-the-genes/carrying-on-the-family name kinda gals. There’s no inherent longing in my breast – I actually view that stuff as sort of archaic. Maybe this is a backlash from the incessant hints my mother-in-law dropped as soon as David and I got hitched.
In her defense, David is the fourth of five children, and was the first to marry – she had waited a LONG time by then. All of her girlfriends were winning the Grandma Game back in a time when that baby tally really meant something.
Baby begging doesn’t seem to be as much a part of our generation’s psyche, but grandma pride seems to have survived in full force. Facebook has opened my eyes to that. Once one of my friends becomes a grandparent, their profile becomes a never-ending barrage of baby pictures. They’re worse than the new mothers. I understand it though, I’ll probably be a photo posting maniac myself should the time ever come.
To be honest, one of the reasons for my lack of longing is unabashed selfishness. I like having my kids all to myself when we visit. No husbands, wives or diaper changes to disrupt my time with them. I feel I’m just getting to know them as adults, and I am loving the process. I don’t want to share.
Genetics may play into my thinking as well. My mother-in-law, as one might imagine, was wet-her-pants excited when I announced my first upcoming bundle of joy. But my side of the family reacted a bit differently. My mother was properly excited, but you would have thought I purposefully dropped an anvil on my dad. He was dismayed. He had to know that I was at an age where this type of thing could happen, he just couldn’t believe that HE was.
“I’m too young to be a Grandfather!”
Like my goal had been to put the final nail in the coffin of his fading youth. Grandfatherdom seemed to be a direct affront to the vernal image he had of himself.
As taken aback as I was at the time, I have to admit that I get it today. Personality is something I’ve inherited from my Dad and – honestly – the idea of me being a grandma stings a bit. (Note to self: try to hide this little selfish feeling when you get the “I’m pregnant!” phone call).
Finally, I have to wonder how influenced by outside factors I might be. In our society, we are past the point where we need to quickly pump out babies to help out on the farm, carry on the family name, or populate our religious faith and the Wild West. There are an awful lot of people on this little planet of ours and I have to say I’m glad we’re slowing down with the baby birthing bit.
My offspring should set their reproductive itinerary at their own pace. It is not something I need to stick my pointy nose into. The potential for disaster looms large if a person is nagged into breeding before they are prepared, whether by a parent, society or even a spouse. If one of our babies feels the time is right to reproduce, I’ll be right there with helpful hints on nausea, mood swings, vomit stain elimination and the like.
Until then, I’ll be glad to have them all to myself.
One last thing, a quick message to my kids – are you EVER going to have a baby?! Just kidding (I think).
YOUR TURN: You’ve heard my opinion, how do you feel?