Remembering Grandma September 30, 2010
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.