Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Descendants

Our kids and our kids' kids. Top Row:
Laura, Kevin, Susan and Leslie.
Will, Johnny B. and Meredith
A year or so after our divorce my ex-husband called me to say he’d decided he wanted another child. I wished him luck.
    “You don’t understand,” he said. “I want you to have another baby with me. I want our son to have a brother or sister. All you have to do is have the baby. I’ll take over from there.”
Michael's mother got to be a Grandmother and she loved the job! Here she is with Meredith, Laura and Susan
Kevin caught this fish on a Key West party boat.
    I thought he was nuts. Lately I’ve been thinking maybe I should have taken him up on his offer. Because as it stands today, it appears I may never be somebody’s grandmother, a job at which I feel I would be really terrific. My one and only son Miguel, my singular issue, has lately told me that he’s not totally keen on having children.
   I do have three great step-daughters. They were grown by the time I met my husband. They are lovely and accomplished.       Michael’s first wife did the heavy lifting say, when describing our mixed family.
Kevin Springbreaking in Key West 
Those daughters have borne my husband, their father, four exceptionally fine grandchildren. But these stunning specimens of DNA do not represent my own gene pool. This is good and bad. Good because I can brag on them with impunity. I make no claim on those sterling genes. They call me “June.” We are Granddaddy Michael and June. I am obviously a very young woman. If I were an older woman, I’d be a grandmother. And I’m not.
 Leslie and Uncle Miguel
    It seems my only hope for grandmotherhood is my son.
   “I love kids,” Miguel says. “I always thought I’d have kids. But it’s such a huge responsibility!”
Brothers Johnny B. and Will
    That’s what happens when you put off having kids. Maturity makes us wiser, and more aware of the perilous speedway that is a life.     Miguel says his friends with kids are always doing some chore or errand related to parenting, as in “we gotta go get the kids” or “we gotta take the kids to somewhere” or “we gotta go pick up this or that for the kids.”
    Miguel teaches elementary school. He loves his students. He loves playing in his band at night. He loves his life, as it is. Where would kids fit in?
   Many of my closest girlfriends do not have children. They lavish their love on step-kids, nieces and nephews instead. That seems to work out well. Those girls travel a lot. They do not have mortgages or stretch marks. Somehow, in spite of not being mothers, they always have things to do, places to go, people to meet, stuff to talk about. 
The Descendants. Grandson Kevin, his mom Susan, with Granddaddy Michael.
Chess Champ Will, 8, and John, 5, playing the state capital game with Granddaddy Michael. The boys won.
        A woman recently told me her story of having her eggs harvested from her body, so that her infertile sister could have children. After suffering through months of the indignities of daily injections of various hormones, she produced an astounding 47 eggs, potential babies, one of which actually created, for her lucky sister, a fine boy. And, since there were plenty of viable eggs, more kids could be! It turned out that the sister was so overwhelmed with having one baby she changed her mind about having a big family. One kid was plenty. More than enough.The remaining eggs were destroyed.
Granddaughter Leslie: Homecoming Queen.
    “Are you devastated when you son says he doesn’t want kids?” the same woman asked me when I told her about Miguel’s comments.
Uncle Miguel teaches his niece and nephew
the finer points of shooting craps.
   I am not. Some people say that having children is an ego trip. Isn’t it the same for grandkids? I would be devastated if my son ended up like a musician friend of mine who cannot set foot into the state of Florida because, as a starving artist, he could never pay all the child support the judge said he should. His children are adults now. Still, he is barred from living in Key West, a place he loves, the place where he met and married the mother of his children. I would be devastated if my son were to marry and then divorce, losing access to his kids in the deal. So many things can go wrong with parenting.
Miguel on drums; Tony Olivero on guitar; making music for the Montessori Charter School students
    My mother and I had a very bumpy relationship. My Nova Scotia grandmother once explained to me, with a weary sigh, “you two are just not cut from the same bolt.” I no longer wonder what I would have turned out to be if I’d had a mother who was delighted to have me as a daughter. But I used to wonder that a lot, and to terrible distraction. Then a psychiatrist said to me, “Who says how a mother is supposed to love her daughter?  Where are those rules written?”
    And, in one stark instant of divine clarity, I got it. He was right. For that matter, who says everybody must have babies? I’ve decided that having step-grands is way good enough. And so, here they are: my truly amazing grandkids.


  1. As always I love your stories. I read something recently, "Mothers, daughters. Same garden. Different flowers." How true.

    1. Oh yes. So sweet. I miss my mom. So many people are losing their moms lately . . . I just lost my grandmother's sister, the youngest of 13 and the last one to pass on. So strange to imagine going home to Nova Scotia and not visiting any of them.

  2. I always love your writing, and what a pleasant surprise to see that we are a part of the story. Meredith

    1. Of course you are part of the story. Always a part of this story. XX