The Pregonaut

A non-breeder's journey into the unknown

Remembering Grandma September 30, 2010

Filed under: Space Detritus — anditron @ 9:00 am

The three of us. Jean (9 mths), Siouxzi (9 mths) and Lorelei (8 mths)

We never wanted kids. Never. It was something other people did. We were content being the cool Aunt and Uncle. I knew a few people here and there with kids and I was always happy to say “hi” if the child came and talked to me (albeit with uncomfortable child-fear exuding from me). Heck, I’d even play with them and have some fun while at it, but I was never the type to go running to a baby that just came in the room and fawn over it.

We were speeding along in our 30’s, living a cushy, double-income, no-responsibilities lifestyle and we liked it.

So I’m sure you’re wondering why the change.

September 30, 2007, life did an about face on us. My mom died. It was a sad, sudden end to 8 months of fighting cancer. 2 months later, we got married. What are easily 2 of the biggest events in a person’s life had just happened and I was left in the wake of that year, crushed and thrilled at the same time; it was a troubling mindset to be in.

It took a year before I started to feel back to myself and during that time I did a lot of thinking. I thought about our relationship as mother and daughter, it was… interesting, I suppose like most mothers and daughters. We were at all times best friends, biggest supporters, harshest critics and worst enemies. We had our rituals, those things only she and I would ever understand, and we knew just what buttons to push when we wanted to get a dig in. In my late teens and 20’s, we had a very rocky time as we couldn’t seem to find level ground during and after my transition from child to adult, but at the end of the day, no matter what, we were always there for each other. Luckily, well before the end of her life, we had grown really close again. We talked every day, not necessarily about anything important, just the day. I often told her about my crazy ideas, she told me about her latest interest. We weren’t really “into” what the other one was talking about but we were each other’s open vessel to fill with any thoughts that came to mind.

Not having her voice on the other end of the phone started the change in me. I missed having someone to talk to like that. I thought about all the things my mom did for me. The not so little things like build me a doll house from scratch right before my eyes and tell me that it’s for a neighbor’s girl, then on my 3rd birthday it sat there waiting for me. The Cabbage Patch Kid that she waited in-line for all morning and got the very last girl that had fallen down behind the shelf… she had a blue gingham dress and red double braids and was better than the one I thought I wanted. They’re such simple things but I have so many memories like this, it was sad that I wouldn’t make any more. And honestly, our mortality came into play, what would happen when Bob909 or I passed away? I’m not saying my dad wouldn’t have managed without my being there, but I don’t know that I could do it without someone there for me if Bob909 should pass away.

I talked to Bob909 about what I was thinking and feeling and he wasn’t pleased with the topic. Not having kids was a decision we made way back when we were first dating. I dropped the subject. But it nagged at me and I kept finding myself bringing it up even though I knew what the outcome would be.

It came down to a full-blown argument on a Friday night in April (the 17th to be exact). I tried to explain what was going on inside my head: With mom gone, I would never have a mother/daughter moment again. If you’ve lost a parent, you know the weight of this statement. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to lay my head down in her lap when having a bad day and have her tell me it would be ok. I would never feel her hug me again. I’d never have bathroom chats with her or give her another bedtime backrub. But I knew that I could, with luck, have that relationship from the other side. I could be the person my daughter (or son) would come to when things were good and bad. I could find that Service Merchandise Catalog toy (ahhh I’ve dated myself). I could teach her (him) what I know, and guide her (him) to a happy fulfilled life. At the least I could try.

He wanted no more talk of it, we had agreed way back when. He knew what kind of a kid he was and he didn’t want to go through what his parents went through.

And then I told him the most important part. Having a kid, for me, wasn’t a deal breaker. It wasn’t that I simply wanted to have a child, I wanted to have a child with him – no one else. I wouldn’t leave him. I didn’t want a child just to have a child. I wanted us to be parents together. The love he showed me during all I had been through, I wanted to see him give that love to someone we created together. I was willing to take the biggest risk in the world but only with him and if he said no, I wouldn’t ask again. This was it, the final conversation. I wasn’t going to bring it up again. (But I couldn’t promise I wouldn’t want another cat.)

He said no. So I started thinking of how to put that “want” away for good.
We went to bed and in spite of the fight and him saying no, we cuddled and told each other “I love you.”

The next day Bob909 called me from work… I don’t want to “try” to have a kid, he said.

“Okay. Well, why don’t we just leave it up to fate? We won’t try, we just won’t not try.” (In other words, we took the goalie out of the game – as a friend put it later.)

He agreed. That night we celebrated without a goalie and nine months later we had a bot – who somehow, miraculously was a beautiful, healthy, smart, charming and precocious little girl.

And I’m writing this now because having our daughter is bittersweet. I love her in a way I never new possible. I love her in a way I never knew my mom loved me. She’s the best thing that ever happened to us, second only to our meeting one another. But here’s the thing… my mother had to pass away in order for us to have her. There is no doubt in my mind that if my mom hadn’t passed away when she did, as hard as that was for me, I wouldn’t have gone through the transformation I did, and we wouldn’t have this amazing girl in our lives.

So every time I look in her face, I love my husband a little more and I love my mom a little more. I remember my mother and I think about how I will remember her to my daughter. And while I think on that, I get to enjoy that her middle name came from both her grandmas.

That’s a pretty good start.


10 Responses to “Remembering Grandma”

  1. Syd Says:

    Brilliant. Your explanation of why you wanted the Bot and the last paragraph about how she makes you feel. Thank you, this is beautiful.

    • anditron Says:

      Thanks, it took a long time writing this one because I am trying to think of how I’ll talk about my mom to my daughter. My mom’s dad died before I was born and her mom died when I was 3 or so, so I have essentially no memory of them at all. What I do remember is that mom didn’t talk about them a lot. There were photos in albums but not around the house… though there weren’t a lot of photos around the house anyway. I never really thought to ask her about them, but now wish I did and of course that’s too late. So I’m hoping to find ways to help the Bot have a connection with her (the name helps) and that maybe sharing stories will also help me remember as well.

  2. AmandaZ Says:

    In the photo, are the three of you wearing the same dress, passed down the generations? Your mother’s dress looks a wee bit different, but the dress baby you and the Bot are wearing look as though they could be the same one. I really hope it is the same dress.

    I think that sort of heirloom baby outfit for a photo is a pretty awesome tradition, one that my family did as well… and while it would be stupid for me to have a child just to carry on the tradition of a photograph and a dress, it is one of the few reasons I wish my body could live through a pregnancy.

    My dad has a similar photo, however, his birth father died before he was born, so he didn’t get to partake as a youngster in that tradition – he had a step father by the time he was the age of the boys in the photo. It’s his birth father, his grandfather, and his great grandfather (none of whom he ever met) – all around 3 o 4 years old, with the age of the photo, they look like it’s a sepia toned photo of the same three kids. I’ve even got the same weird crooked eyebrow that those three boys had, that my dad also has.

    If you’d like some ideas on how to give Bot a chance to know your Mom, contact me privately… I lost a friend who’s youngest child was 2 at the time of her death. Her husband wanted the kids to grow up knowing their mom, even if she was no longer there. The efforts of the family and friends did a lot of good. Her oldest is an adult now – I consider him a friend now, rather than my friend’s son.

    • anditron Says:

      Amanda, yes, it is the same dress, it seems to not be aging quite as well as we’d like. I think that’s do to a fear of washing it!

      As for ideas, I’d love any that you have. So far, her goodnight song talks about her grandma and her Escher kitty watching over her. On occasion I tell her stories about grandma while I’m nursing her to sleep. I expect it’ll come to me more be when she’s a bit older and starts to recognize that there is a grandma and grandpa on dad’s side and granddad and someone who is not the same someone in a lot of the photos we have around the house. My dad has met a wonderful woman since mom passed who we adore and the Bot will grow to call her something, but I haven’t figured out what that should be yet. That adds a level of complexity to the whole situation, not in a bad way but just in a clarification way. I want the bot to have a close relationship with all of the people who love her, but I don’t want the person who isn’t physically here to be lost in the shuffle.

  3. Nico Says:

    What a wonderful, thoughtful story. Sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this.

    • anditron Says:

      Thanks Nico, it’s never easy not having your mom, but having lots of love around you makes life happier.

  4. Kaleigh Says:

    Emma and Roland have known for a long time that they have another grandfather – Rich’s dad died a few weeks after he and I met. While they call Rich’s step-father, “Grandpa”, they know he’s not their grandfather, at least not with any shared DNA or real family history (Rich’s mom remarried a few months after Rich and I got married). Rich tells the kids stories about his dad, and we have pictures of him along with all the other family pictures.

    Roland was pretty blue about it for a while – it really upset him that his dad didn’t have a living dad, but Rich talked to him about it, and the melancholy passed. I think both kids would have loved to have known Lee, but at least they know for sure that he would have loved them.

    This was a beautiful post. I had several conversations with my brother that April, and I’m so glad you shared your side of the story. I’m glad you convinced him – you’re great parents and I can’t wait to see what a cool kid Rory is going to grow to be!

    • anditron Says:

      I love how you talk to Emma and Roland about their grandfather. I’ve been thinking about it and there are some of our meals that are my moms recipes and things that I like to do that mom loved doing. So when we make those meals I’ll tell her about her then and I’m sure many other things will continue to come to mind.

      Thanks for popping in 🙂

  5. Kimberly Says:

    What a beautiful note. I loved reading how you described your relationship with your mother. For a long time in my early 20’s I thought I was the only one going through that ‘transition from child-to-adult-acceptance’ from my mother. It was brutally hard. At a point I thought we’d never have a functional relationship, which was really sad for me because I also had those moments of remembering her getting me cabbage patch dolls and my little ponys, and working herself to the bone on 3rd shift so she could be available during the day for me at school. My husband and I have always wanted to have kids, but we agreed to not overschedule things — to let things happen. About 5 months of c’est la vie later, we found out we were pregnant. I’m 9 weeks now and going to my first dr appointment tomorrow. Thank you for sharing your story. Good luck with The Bot.

    • anditron Says:

      Thanks Kimberly and congratulations. Pregnancy comes with a lot of confusion, excitement, trepidation, joy and fear. I hope you can hold on to that “let things happen” pov, I’ve found it helps tremendously when things can start to feel intense.

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