Nothing warms the heart like the love of a child, at least nothing I can remember. I have guarded my heart for years to avoid the pain of not having children in my life. It has been easier to avoid it completely than to suffer.
As most of you know I was not able to have children and adoption was not an option in those days for many reasons.
When my first husband and I lived in Germany in the early ‘80’s, we were very close friends with a couple that lived next door. When they had a little boy I was lucky enough to babysit him, and Tom and I became his Godparents. Little Tommy (that was his real name, not a fantasy name I gave him – I am not totally insane!) was a dream come true for me. I got to fulfill all my mothering needs and I enjoyed every minute.
It was during this time that I lost my 4th baby and learned that I was not going to be able to have children of my own. As heartbreaking as that was for me, little Tommy helped heal that wound. Somehow I lost sense of reality and allowed myself to become too wrapped up in the fantasy.
When Tommy’s dad was transferred back to the United States I was devastated. I dreamed of him every night, I heard him calling my name (he called me Mimi), I saw him everywhere we went. I missed him so much all I could do was cry. It was like a death all over again.
My depression intensified to the point that I couldn’t go anywhere that children would be present. I just could not deal with other people having what I wanted so badly. Seeing a pregnant woman even sent me into a tailspin.
Finally, in order to find a way to live my life again, I had to cut off relationships with children. I was not mean to anyone but I would not let children into my heart ever again. People who had children could not be our friends. That was the only way I knew to deal with the pain and sadness. That worked rather well for more than 30 years. Up to now I have lived content without children.
This past week, John and I went to Virginia to visit his son Sean and his family. Sean and his wife Melissa have 2 children. I have held them at arm’s length for many reasons. First, I am John’s wife but not his son’s mother and second, we live in Florida and they live in Virginia so we rarely get to see them. I do not really have a relationship with Sean; how can we get to know each other when there is so much distance? And these children have Grandmother’s that are active in their lives and love them very much. Why confuse the issue? I am just John’s wife. I am not a grandmother, that honor rightly belongs to the ones they have. And, I know if anything happens to John I would never see them again. I mean, why would we? There would be no reason.
So how come I came home yesterday full of joy and love for these two little ones like I have never known. How on earth did these two kids steal my heart from me? Somehow on this trip I became a Grandmother!
As I said, I have tried to hold them at arm’s length, not pushing myself on them. I waited for them to come to me. I understand kids have to warm up to people and I never like it when parents make their kids give hugs and kisses when they don’t feel the need. It is confusing for them.
Aiden, the seven-year old, was talking at dinner one night and said he had five grandparents and asked his mom how many she had. Later I told Melissa that I didn’t think of myself as a grandmother. I didn’t explain why, it was just a statement.
A couple of days later I was teaching Hannah the name that Aiden gave me years ago, MeeMoo. When Hannah said it I was thrilled. I am not sure she actually made the connection to me but it really didn’t matter. She said it!
I know I will have to tread carefully because I will go “all in” too soon, but I am learning that protecting my heart also robs it of a love that is sweet and pure.
I might need guidance from my friends that are Grandma’s. I am new at this and will need to know the rules. But then again maybe not knowing the rules will be better for me. I will be myself and that is really all I have to give right?