So I was having some lunch with my dad today, and we got to talking about E’s parents, who are coming sometime this summer, but they don’t really know when because they don’t actually, you know, make decisions. Anyway, he winced in a sympathetic way and said, “Get a real job!” in prissy tones meant to imitate E’s parents.

I laughed. “I know. He makes more now than his dad ever did as a high school librarian! And I think they must be completely baffled by me, not corralling him into a mortgage, a Camry, a wedding ring, and a desk job! I think they think I’m SLOW or something!”

I paused and then I went for it. “I hope you’re not disappointed in us.” The subtext of this, within the confines of my father’s and my relationship, is really more like I desperately want your approval and I’m so scared I’m screwing up on your scale of things and I really love you and want you to be happy with the fact that I have built a happy life for myself.

“No,” my father answered. “Not disappointed in you.” He smiled slightly. “But I do get annoyed that I’m not going to have any grandchildren.”

And then I told him about my godchildren, and their siblings, my friends’ children I love and am so proud of, because it kept me from saying, ‘Thanks for staying the hell out of my reproductive choices!”

But now I have been thinking about our father-daughter subtext, and I wonder what he was really telling me. If he was.

14 Comments to “Annoyed.”

  1. By sarah, July 25, 2008 @ 6:21 am

    It may not be my place to say anything, so I’m sorry if I overstep.

    It occurs to me that your Dad’s comment may be taken at face value. He does respect your reproductive choices. He maybe misses the thought of grandchildren for himself, but he knows you’re not required to fulfill that goal of his. So he’s proud of you, and I’m sure he’s pleased for you that you have children with whom you have good relationships. That just doesn’t give him anyone to spoil.

  2. By rachel, July 25, 2008 @ 7:56 am

    Would he LIKE a grandkid? Cheap, and only slightly used?

  3. By Liz, July 25, 2008 @ 10:14 am

    Sarah, it might be at face value. It’s hard to tell. And part of me is sad that he has no one to spoil, because to a degree, I feel like that’s my fault. That I have a defect that causes me to not want to breed.

    This is something I do struggle with.

  4. By Liz, July 25, 2008 @ 10:15 am

    And, Rachel, he’d probably love to hang out with B.

  5. By Fran, July 25, 2008 @ 11:34 am

    I totally understand where your Dad is coming from, but his use of the word “annoyed” might have twigged you a bit. I do feel somewhat the same about my kids (minus the annoyed); I would love to have grandchildren and would be a bit sad if they didn’t reproduce but still know it is totally their choice.

    It is never easy when you choose the non-traditional path but you are not alone. Remember Gudrun, she would say no one should reproduce because there are already too many people on the planet.

    Anyway, it is your choice and your life. Raising kids is not a picnic. So, to celebrate your choice, I suggest you and Eric take a bottle of wine and some fancy snacks and head to the beach for a picnic.

  6. By Liz, July 25, 2008 @ 12:18 pm

    I think you’re right, Fran. I just felt as though I’d failed some test or other.

  7. By elswhere, July 25, 2008 @ 6:38 pm

    Like Sarah, I was also inclined to take your dad’s words at face value (but I don’t know him, or much about his & your history, so my take on it is worth approximately…oh…not much).

    For myself, I know already that if MG chooses not to have kids I’ll be bummed, even though I don’t feel that it’s her obligation or that it’s any of my business. If she has other kids in her life, that’ll be great for her, but it’ll still be my own job to find other kids who I can spoil and take out for ice cream or whatever.

  8. By Beth, July 27, 2008 @ 7:03 am

    Speaking as a grandmother, it’s the best gig of my life. I get all the pleasure minus the worry and the guilt and the work. But I also know that it is not my children’s job to make me happy. That’s my job. So, if I didn’t have grandkids, I’d find other ways to make me happy.
    Most hospitals love to have older people volunteer to rock babies and play with toddlers who are in hospital. Parents can’t be there all the time and nurses don’t have time for the cuddly stuff but it helps kids heal. My mom did that, and she had scads of grandkids who also had their own lives and who lived a distance away.

    “is shoogy” great captcha phrase…

  9. By Liz, July 27, 2008 @ 10:57 am

    Thanks all for your comments. I know I am sensitive about this issue, but I also know that I hav a right to live my life MY way, not to please my dad. He has a pretty full life even as it is. He just won’t have biological grandchildren to spoil.

  10. By Fran, July 27, 2008 @ 2:39 pm

    What about your brother? Can’t you put some pressure on him!

  11. By Arwen, July 27, 2008 @ 8:57 pm

    Yeah, I’d also like to have grandkids some day, but not at the expense of my kids’ happiness.

  12. By Liz, July 27, 2008 @ 8:58 pm

    Fran, he and Carol don’t want kids, either.

  13. By rachel, July 28, 2008 @ 10:04 am

    If NEITHER of you want kids, could your Dad be taking it personally? Like, gee, growing up with him as your dad was so awful that neither of his kids can stand the idea of tormenting another child that way? I mention it merely because my mother has been, on occasion, prone to taking the WEIRDEST things personally, things you’d think no one ought to be able to take personally, so it’s never surprising to me that people can come way out of left field like that.

    On the other hand, I can see how one would take the word “annoyed” personally. It would be one thing if he were “sad” or… well, sad. “Annoyed” makes it sound like he feels he’s been wronged somehow.

  14. By Liz, July 28, 2008 @ 2:23 pm

    Well, quite, Arwen.

    He may well be taking it personally. The interesting thing is, as we all know well, HIS was not the parenting I had issues with. Actually, both Scott’s and my partners have issues with some of their parents’ choices as well. But Dad? Dad wasn’t the problem.

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