Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

The Jealous Child: Me September 9, 2010

The problem with emotions is that they never behave themselves. Just as you get one set all sorted out and under control, another set bubbles up and catches you off guard. And so it was this past weekend when that evil emotion jealousy crept up on me when I least expected it.

My hubby and I were at a local fair, and of course, had to find a present for our granddaughter (yes, although I don’t have children, I do have a granddaughter by marriage.) Let it be said that I love my granddaughter to bits, but being a childless grandmother is not without its challenges. I’ve got to the point where I can shop for baby clothes, baby furniture, diapers, and toys, and keep it all pretty much together, but this weekend I didn’t. While deciding on a dress for her, I snapped at my husband; I grumbled; I yelled, and basically pouted like a two-year-old. And then my husband called me on it.

“You’re not jealous of her are you?”

“Of course not!” I said, and then shuffled off to have a little talk with myself.

Oh, sisters, I must tell you that it’s pretty horrible having to admit to yourself that you’re jealous of an 18-month-old. My logical, adult mind is talking through it and saying all the right things, but some little voice deep inside me is throwing a tantrum. Maybe it’s because I’m the baby of my family (by 11 years) with two older brothers, and I’m used to being indulged, maybe even a little spoiled. That’s okay; I turned out all right in spite of it. Maybe I don’t like having to share my husband. Or maybe somewhere I’m still bitter that I don’t have a baby of my own and that it’s my child who should be the one being spoiled.

I’ve been mulling my reaction for a couple of days now and it finally dawned on me. There’s a natural progression in life: child becomes parent, becomes grandparent, and sometimes becomes child again. I’ve never made it out of Stage I. I’ve never experienced that moment of knowing that I am now wholly responsible for another human life. I am still, at some level, the child.

I love that I am still somewhat childlike, that I’m willing to take on an adventure, try something new, not worry too much what others think of me, but am I still childish? Well, that just won’t do; I’m a grandmother, for Pete’s sake!

I think this is going to require a little more soul-searching. Any thoughts?


3 Responses to “The Jealous Child: Me”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by TangledUp, Lisa Manterfield. Lisa Manterfield said: The Jealous Child: Me: […]

  2. Kathryn Says:

    Yes, yes, yes.

    Several of my friends are having grandchildren now, & i really struggle with it. Envy of the women young enough to be my daughters, that they have their lives ahead of them & that they can have what i never will.

    I follow a few blogs of women who are mamas. It does disturb me that i can only respond to some of their posts as what i felt as a child or a teen, not a mother myself, & never to be one. It feels like that branch of the tree of my life has been loped off, & the result is a very disfigured tree.

    I’m not ever going to have a “mama” response. I’m always going to be the “child.” It doesn’t help that both my mother & my sis with 6 kids imply that i’ll never really understand them, or “true love” since i don’t have children.

    I think some of my envy is that we are coming up on the 5 year anniversary of the loss (m/c) of our daughter. For the past year i’ve been coming to the realization that there is never going to be a child, but i am still really struggling with it. Especially as friends of ours just had their 4th child, someone i know is having her 5th. Even just in the parking lot of a store yesterday i saw 2 different families with 2 young children & the mamas were very clearly carrying a 3rd. I know statistically it is suppose to get easier, but i’m not finding it so.

    I’m not sure i envy a 18 month old, although i might. But i often envy young teens with their lives ahead of them, especially when it is clear they come from a loving family (mine didn’t have much love to go around). I want to kick & scream & go back & do it over. I hate entering a grandma age with no children at all.

    Sorry, this is a hard week, counting anniversaries.

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