“How are the boys?”
“OMG. They’re doing great. Both doing what they love and living where they need to be right now. Brad and I have never been happier. This empty nest thing is practically like being single again. I make it a point to tell the boys we do not want to be grandparents anytime soon. I mean, I feel like we just finished up with them. We love camping in the rv too much. It’s our happy place. I have witnessed how some people get tied down by grandkids. No thank you! We are finally free. It’s intoxicating.”
“Well, speaking of grandkids…Sean and his wife are due in the spring.”
“Oh! Oh. Well that’s so greeeaaaaat! You must be thrilled.”
I have always said jokingly, with a huge dose of reality, “You have to have children, to know you don’t want them.”
I did the status quo. I followed the natural order or things. I adore my children and I revel in their successes. I excel in supporting them in their endeavors, but I lost myself while raising them. I found myself now, and never want to be caught without a compass again. I like reveling in my own interests, successes and self-satisfying endeavors. Imagine that? Cue credits, I am done.
Raising children is like running a very long, very arduous, very rewarding (if you’re lucky enough to make it to the finish line without shitting yourself) marathon. Quite frankly, I’m not the marathon type. More of an extremely brief sprinter. So I am not a likely candidate to ever repeat a marathon. And I definitely would milk the longest rest possible after completing one. Which is where I’m at right now. Still heaving, sweating, kind of amazed, and quite proud I got through it at all. I still put my children first because I want them to do all they can do, be all they can be, before locking themselves into a responsibility as big as children. That’s how much I care. About them.
Go ahead and tell me how great it is to love these little blood relatives because of the “you-can-hand-them-back” clause. Fabulous. I don’t even want one handed to me in the first place. Someday our kids and their toddling offspring can bring a child-proof tent, find us in Colorado by the Poudre River, and visit. Just don’t expect me to keep some little bugger from floating down the rapids. I’m done keeping people alive.
What? He was just here a minute ago!
I completely relate to a good friend who survived horrible combat in Vietnam. He never wants to be responsible for other lives ever again. I so get that. I deserve a medal, not a rambunctious, precocious, food-dependent grandchild. Maybe I’m suffering from my own form of PTSD, but it just doesn’t seem fair that the reward for raising wonderful children is throwing more children at me. Unlimited adult swim is my reward.
The good news is, I am the mother of boys. Chances are, I will be marginalized by the wife and mother-in-law anyway. Especially after I tell everyone I want my gramma moniker to be, “Tito,” in honor of my favorite vodka. “Sure, you can trust leaving the kids with me…as soon as they’re old enough to pour.”
Oh, I will gush over anyone else’s grand-progeny. Happy to do so. Happy for you, if you are happy about having them. Just don’t judge me for being selfish enough to say, “No thank you. I’ll be off the grid.” And by “off the grid,” I mean childless and carefree in a campground, enduring the occasional flashback of screaming kids, with no need to respond. Some things are better left to those who deserve it.