The Struggle is Real

I stole my grandchildren –– from myself

I’ve been struggling with this thought for the last few days. It was a really painful epiphany when I realized that I’d stolen my grandchildren from myself.

I had my first son two weeks before my 37th birthday, my second son just shy of my 39th.

“PHEW!” I thought – got in just under the line, done before 40.

I was told I would have trouble conceiving both times. The words “Late Maternal Age” were thrown around at some of all of my doctor visits. The usual scare of possible chromosomal anomalies and age-related pregnancy issues grated my nerves on the reg.

But I was happy to have my kids. I had my cake and would get to eat it too. I enjoyed my 20’s, traveled, lived like a rock star (partied with a few!), established a career, waited for Mr. Right, avoided unplanned pregnancies, and now I was getting to enjoy the spoils of my well-managed life.

It is my happy ending.

It is… but I’ve only just unearthed the consequence I never realized would come with late maternal age –– I don’t get to be Nana Elisa.

I grew up with wonderful grandparents. My Nana Sophie and Gramps Mike spent a lot of time with me. My Nana Helen and Grampsy Leo made me feel like the sun shone for me and me alone. They doted. They pleased. They loved and enjoyed without reservation. I couldn’t spend enough time at their house and I could never get enough of my grandmother’s bottomless pot of chicken soup or the never-empty bowl of apple sauce, which she knew I adored.

My grandkids won’t get this.

But that I won’t get to do this for them is more of my concern. I see my kids missing out on the time with grandparents, mine have both passed away long ago.

I waited until I was ready for kids, I pushed baby-making to the limits, and I thought I’d gotten away with it, scott free.

Yes, I’m a little tired and probably would have kept up with my wild boys a bit better a decade ago, but what I lack in stamina, I make up for in patience, wisdom and a decent salary.

However, while I may see a grandchild in my lifetime if I take care of myself, if my kids wait like I waited, I won’t be Nana Elisa. I won’t be able to run around the city with them, travel with them, take them places.

In my late 70s I can’t see myself being the able-bodied woman doting over children for sleepovers and days of shopping. I won’t be taking them to the farm or on adventures the way my grandparents did for me.

Oh sure, I know that 70 is the new 60 (and 46 is the new 29, I know, I know) but the truth is, I can see where my energy level is right now, and I’m not imagining I’ll have more energy at 76 than I have at 46. My memory isn’t what it used to be. My patience, video game skills and basic acceptance of mermaid hair, unicorn glitter and words like “turnt” are starting to date me.

Even if I see little babes in my 60s and early 70s, by the time they’re teens and capable of doing the fun stuff, I’ll be needing a day pass just to go to their school plays.

I may be fine and full of energy by then – but I may not.

Some of my friends have grown children, some are grandparents. In fact, my mother-in-law has great grandchildren that are older than our kids. My husband’s sister was a grandmother before we even got started.

I didn’t realize I’d love having kids so much. I didn’t realize it would be my most favourite part of life. I put off a family because I “wasn’t ready,” and “I needed ‘me’ time” before settling down. I still think I made the right decision, and that my life has rolled out perfectly, but I lament that one thing…

The grandchildren.

The thing I never thought of as I was figuring it all out and putting off having kids.