While grocery shopping a few months ago, granny and I ran into a former neighbor whom we’ve known since I was a little girl. After recounting her children’s marriages and grandchildren’s births, she waved her hand at me, shook her head and said, “I know you don’t have any kids.”
“How do you know?” I asked.
“Because you always said you didn’t want kids.”
“I actually said that at 10 and 11 years old?” I asked incredulously.
I guess it’s safe to say that I have never been enamored with the idea of motherhood or childbirth, although I don’t know why I felt that way as a 10-year-old. At the ripe old age of 30, I am more reflective and self-aware. I’m more of a traditionalist when it comes to family structures. Having been raised by granny, I’d prefer to be married before having children. Why start out with life being more difficult? However, the high divorce rate in the U.S. suggests that I will most likely be divorced and single again. Add a child to the mix, and I will most likely be a single mother. Quite frankly, the thought of being a single mother is hard and depressing. Particularly when you have very little help or support, and much aggravation. I ought to know.
Caring for granny is like being a mother. Cooking, cleaning, managing finances, coordinating her medical care, guiding her physical, mental and spiritual development, arranging for her care and supervision when I can’t be home, working, and maintaining my own sanity. Being completely responsible for someone else. Except, I didn’t plan for this. I don’t have a partner or network of doting loved ones. No one to send her to on weekends, during summers or holidays or when I just need a little breathing space. And I was spared the pain and discomfort of pregnancy and childbirth!
Finding a good home attendant is just like finding a decent baby sitter – nearly impossible. I am convinced that I will amass a few criminal charges in the near future if these home attendants do not quit irritating my last good nerve. Picture the headlines: Lawyer Arraigned for Death of Grandmother’s Home Attendant By Fruit Roll Up Lashing or Home Attendant Dies of Dehydration After Drinking Soda Laced With Ex-Lax or Home Attendant Beat to Death With Slab of BBQ Ribs, and Pans of Corn Bread and Mac & Cheese.
I’ve never travelled abroad. I’ve never been on a vacation with girlfriends or by myself. I can’t go away for a weekend. To an impromptu dinner with a friend who’s depressed about being fired. On a date, at least not a dinner date. Or to a family gathering out of town – because grannies, albeit cute, are not the same as little babies who stay put and sleep when you burp them and lay them over your shoulder.
I am angry, frustrated and depressed because my life is on hold indefinitely. Yes, I am having a pity party as of late. There. I’ve said it. I’m restless, wanting to do more. Live more. Be more than the dutiful, loving, martyr granddaughter. I know that life moves quickly, waiting for no one – not even me, especially not me. I fear that I may wake up at 40, with great lipstick and book collections, and wonder where life went, wishing I had done more. I see, hear and feel my granny’s regrets. Regrets for not having been more carefree, adventurous and open to possibilities in her youth. My feelings of being boxed in and stagnant have produced moments of irrationality and impulsiveness. I actually considered applying for jobs in other states. A clearer head would have told me that it is impractical and unwise to pick up and move granny to another state that neither of us is familiar with or has friends/relatives in. It would be adventurous if I had only myself to worry about. Otherwise, it is simply wishful thinking. But, I need a change is all I can think.
I am not feeling like Superwoman or Queen Matriarch today. It’s overrated. Quite frankly, it’s hard and depressing.