The majority of people who are parents acknowledge that having children does, on the whole enhance their lives, despite the high cost in terms of finance, energy, time and so on. Most of those with older or adult children are proud of at least one of their offspring and those with babies and toddlers will be full of stories about how many teeth they’ve acquired, whether they sleep through the night or that they can name all the capital cities in Europe. This is all natural and in the order of things.
Occasionally, though, there is, amongst one’s friends or acquaintances someone who is unable to converse on any subject at all without reference to their offspring.
“Have you booked a holiday yet?” you ask them.
“No, but our Susan [or Mabel or Esmeralda] is going to Ulan Bator. She’s been invited to join a missionary choir blah blah blah…….”
“Car still going ok?”
“Yes but we’re passing it on to Julian [or Wayne, or Freddy] because he’s just heard he’s got into Oxford [Slade/RADA/Cambridge etc] blah blah blah blah]”
Worse still are the doting grandparents. Myself, I am not yet a grandparent. Yes, I am looking forward to becoming one, but may I be struck down if I turn into the type of drooling, fixated granny or granddad who is unable to utter a word about anything except the exceptional, talented, unearthly beings that are their grandchildren. We meet them on our travels, these people who are unable to complete one sentence without mentioning their grandsprogs.
In my previous life as a proper working person I used to meet up occasionally with fellow colleagues for training etc. In the course of these monthly meetings there was one poor soul who greeted me regularly with the words,
“Oh hello! Are you the lady who’s got a little grandson, like me?” to which I felt compelled to reply,
“No, I’m afraid I’m the lady who has no grandchildren.”
I wish I’d been more courageous. I wish I’d said I ate them for breakfast.
And another thing; those who are grandparents regard us grandchild-less couples with pity, as if we are in some way defective and disadvantaged. ‘Never mind’, they say, ‘It’ll happen’-as if we are somehow pining for this longed for event. Another of my friends feels she must shield me from photos or information about her grandchild, in case I should be offended by the sight or mention of him. This is not the case at all. I am at least as interested as she is in my stories, or indeed this blog!
For this is the point. I don’t mind at all, hearing a bit about others’ families, and of course I am as proud as any parent of my own children’s achievements. But I don’t wish to be defined, myself by their accomplishments; because they are theirs. What I would really like is to be defined by my own achievements…and most of all…in my writing. Is it too much to hope for?