I’ve talked about this before and it’s not something I’m proud of. When my son came out, I turned to his younger brother and said, “Now, it’s up to you.” They both knew what I meant. It was not up to my younger son to make me a grandmother – as if this was his responsibility.
I don’t think I regret anything I said more than that. When did I determine that it was their responsibility to make me a grandmother. Where did learn that?
I suppose in a lot of ways I learned it from my own mom, who never said that, but I always knew she expected me to have children. Luckily for her (and me!), I always wanted children.
Here I was sitting at a table with my 20 year old gay son and my 18 year old straight son. A bit young to even know if they wanted kids or not.
The truth is, it was my expression of the dreams I had for my son being shattered. Not his dreams – my dreams. It felt selfish and it was. Then I judged myself for feeling that way. Trust me, that did not help. So what if I was feeling selfish. It’s such a common reaction from moms whose kids have just come out. Many of us have a process of grieving we have to go through and this is one part of it – giving up our dream of being a grandmother.
Here’s what I’ve learned since then. It’s not my children’s responsibility to make me a grandmother. My younger son used to taunt me (in a teasing way, I think!) that he never wanted to have children. I think he just wanted to see my reaction. By then I was able to tell him that it was his choice and he should do what makes him happy. I truly knew it was not his responsibility to make me a grandmother.
I learned that many gay and lesbian couples have children. I learned that many straight couples do not. Having a gay son does not automatically mean he won’t have children anymore than having a straight son means he automatically will. I have friends with straight kids who don’t want to have children. I have a friend with a lesbian daughter and a straight son. Her grandchildren are from her daughter, not her son.
And I learned there are many ways to have children in one’s life. 30 years after saying that to my son, he is married, with his husband for 26 years. They choose not to have children. My other son has two sons, ages 16 and almost 14. They’ve lived 3,000 miles from me until I recently moved closer. But we are still not in the same city or state. Having a long-distance relationship with my grandsons is not what I ever wanted but we make it work. And I love children so when we did move, rather than live in a senior community, we choose to live in a community with lots of children.
To moms (or dad) who are in the initial stages of grief and worrying that they won’t be grandparents, I say, give it time. Give yourself time. Don’t feel guilty for feeling selfish. It’s part of the process. You will get through that process and come out of it with a different attitude. I’m not saying you won’t care or won’t still want grandchildren, but you will find ways to rejoice in your children and the choices they make. What all of us want for our kids, more than anything, is for them to be happy. It’s what I want. It’s what you want. Today I chose to celebrate my son’s happiness and all the joy he has in his life – without children!