I turned 37 yesterday.
My husband remembered before I did; I was still clawing blindly through the kitchen for coffee when he wished me a happy birthday. He went out to get milk and brought back a red rose. Mom said she and that Bantas would like to call; when there was no call and I asked why, she said she thought I didn’t want them to. There wasn’t any basis for her to think that, I had emailed back saying I would love call. But somehow her forgetting, or getting carried away, or (most likely) being drunk, and not calling is still my fault. I pointed this out in an email, because (sadly) I still want to get through to her, but I iknow it won’t. My frustration and annoyance will only rally ruffle her innocence like a bird does its feathers, to keep enemies at bay. Or maybe I just want to pick a fight, want someone to know how miserable and alone I feel.
Then there was the stream of facebook messages, a few personal emails, and two texts.
Tim pressed upon me how much I need to go back to work, and in fact, only when I did go back to full time work, would he entertain having a second child. In the morning I agreed to this: the logic is sound. But by evening, hitting the tired wall (M had been up from 2am to 3am the night before), and rushing about trying to get food for a coworker he admires that just had a baby, and getting N ready for summer camp, I lost it. I’m tired of having children as my little project, as if it was a hobby that got the way of other things.
M was up again from 2am to 4am last night and today I feel thoroughly depressed. No calls for my birthday, not even from my parents, who have very important other things to do. It’s foolish of me, of course, to start dreaming of the world in which they would be devoted, excited grandparents. Their parents were not particularly interested in us, so why would my parents being interested in my children? No. My dad has his longevity project, and talks about the same three books over and over again [I can only imagine the library in his head as endless rows of these same three books, and he wanders through the shelves, reaches over, and great! just what he was looking for]. My mom has her dogs, her house, her writing, and as the luscious backdrop obliterating all else, her drinking. Still there’s an idea in my head of grandparents doting on grandchildren, of holidays together, eating, drinking, having fun. And its not that we can’t, or won’t do this. But it is clear we have reached the stage that my cousins have reached with their own aging parents: the family get together as elaborate performance, of presenting the grandchildren for a brief period, of talking in slow, gentle sentences to elderly people and knowing they won’t recall the conversation later. They are not that old yet; my dad and mom both still work, have social lives, dreams. Yet incongruently, they are. Their brains simply do not write new data, so you are left with a program that seems increasingly bizarre because as the world changes, their program keeps running the same script.
And the horror is, you know you are next. You–well, no, not you, me–I will be old before my children stop needing me.