I don’t think there was a time in my life when I didn’t want children. Becoming a mother completed me in a way I never thought possible, and I wouldn’t trade any moments with my children for all the riches in the world.
That being said, I have no expectations, hopes or dreams of becoming a grandparent. I often hear people lamenting about their adult children not “giving them” grandchildren, and I just can’t relate to the mindset. As much as I love my kids, and as much as I’m sure I would love any children they have, there are a lot of good reasons for not rushing to become a grandma, and a lot of good reasons not to rush your adult children toward parenthood either.
Today’s society is full of pressure. Pressure to get that great degree, score the perfect job, climb that ladder, all while jet-setting around the world in between yoga classes and growing all your own vegetables. Housing prices rise, while a living wage stagnates. Life is busier than ever, for all of us. The litany of “give me a grandchild” is a stressor I don’t want to add to my adult children’s’ already overflowing plates.
Speaking of busy lives, the empty nest hasn’t brought any kind of slow-down to mine. I work fulltime, I have lots of friends, a spouse I adore and several pets. We travel extensively, entertain, work out and stay just as occupied as when there were kids in the house. While I cherish the memories of parenting small children, I don’t pine for any re-dos of those years. I’ve found a blissful freedom in this next phase of life, knowing my children are grown and doing well, and grandchildren really aren’t even on my radar.
Respecting the life choices our adult children make is an important part of building rapport as we morph from active parenting to a more equal standing. I would no more try to convince my children to become parents than I would try to convince them to buy a certain home or change their lifestyle in some other profound way. This is their life, not mine. And what if they, or their spouse, like thousands of couples, have trouble conceiving? To top off the anxiety of fertility issues, which can already make a person feel like there’s something “wrong” with them, having their parents in their ears, wanting to know where their grandchildren are, could make them feel even worse.
Getting to know my kids as adults has taken our relationship to a new, deeper level and I’ve found myself really enjoying their company. We vacation together, go to the movies or late dinners and have endless conversations, all of which would be decidedly more difficult if they had children of their own right now. Time with them that is unfettered by me having to parent them or them having to parent someone else has grown a real friendship between us. I actually like these people I created!
Okay maybe not 30, but I sure don’t feel like I’m the 50-plus years reflected on my driver’s license! We are all blessed to live in a time where the average life span is longer than ever, and while ageism is alive and well, those lines are blurring as people realize that age really can be just a number and middle age isn’t so easily defined. Opportunities for those of the mid-life set are almost endless, and I’m not sure that being a grandparent fits my plans right now.
I essentially put much of my life on hold when I had children. I don’t regret it, and raising them was certainly one of the most important jobs I’ve ever had. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have dreams of my own, plans that are, in this later time of my life, actually starting to come to fruition. Creative dreams that were left undone when daily life was more about whose diaper needed changing or who was driving carpool, now have the time and space to bloom.
I love my kids. I adore my kids. When we spend time together, all is right with the world. But I’m not defined by motherhood. I’m a mother, but I’m also a writer, a runner, a traveler. I’m interested in a million different things, have an endless bucket list of adventures yet to experience, and while my kids are everything to me, I do not need their lives to validate anything in my own. I want their lives to reflect what they want for themselves, not what I think I might want or need.
Having children changes your life. Usually for the better, but those changes can also have a big impact. You suddenly have this tiny, living being who is totally dependent on you. That’s a beautiful thing, but it’s not for the faint of heart. I raised my children to believe that the sky’s the limit for their future, that they should strive to fulfill their wildest dreams and take everything this great big world can offer. I love watching them soar, finding their way and figuring out just what it is they want from life. And if down the road, what they want includes children, I will embrace that too. But for now, I’m happy being me, and watching them be them.
This essay was written by Jody Ellis, a freelancer writer.
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