I stared at the Facebook post. What the what? This has got to be a joke. Maybe one of her kids got ahold of her phone and pranked her.
Two. Grandbabies. I’m 42. She was a year behind me in school, so she’s probably 41, maybe 42. Two. Grandbabies. What the heck?
I grew up in a tiny rural farming community where it’s not totally unheard of to stick around, get married, and have kids young. It’s not what everyone does, but at our 20-year high school reunion a solid handful of people—out of our graduating class of 39—already had teenagers. I’d just never thought about the logical progression of that as time continued to pass: high schoolers become adults. Adults have babies.
It’s just that none of my friends are remotely close to grandparenthood. I have a handful of close hometown friends, the people I refer to as my “high school friends” but who really go back to kindergarten, or earlier. But even the friends from that group who had kids “early” were still 24 or 25. It’s weird enough to me that their oldests are about to finish high school. I have very clear memories of their baby showers—mostly because I was looking at their moms thinking, You’re about to have a baby; I don’t even own a plant—I cannot imagine getting a shower invitation for the next generation.
I left the farm for a slightly-hippie liberal arts college, which means that my social media feed is weighted much more heavily toward friends who have very recently had their own babies. The prevailing mindset at our college was that it was a launching pad to a postgraduate degree or two, not a place people went for their MRS degree. The idea of having a baby while you were even still in your 20s was somewhat remarkable: most people got married somewhere closer to (or well after) 30, and many have had babies into their 40s. Off the top of my head, I can think of four college friends who are still changing diapers.
And then there’s my former high school softball teammate who is now apparently a grandma. Twice over.
I hopped on the sporadic group text with my hometown friends and updated them.
“Wow. I think her hubby is older, maybe?” Danielle responded, trying to put some kind of justification behind the news.
And that helped for a moment: Okay, if she married an older guy, he probably wanted to have kids right away . . . so that doesn’t mean that the REST OF US are old enough for grandkids …
But we were just kidding ourselves. If she had a baby at 20, that son or daughter could have done the same, and it was totally plausible for her to now be a grandma without anyone having been pregnant in high school. THE MATH WORKS.
Math aside, though, it just doesn’t seem possible. Even though my youngest is eight and I am, as I mentioned before, 42 years old, I feel like it wouldn’t be that bizarre for me to have another baby. (My husband absolutely loves it when I say things like that. I can tell by the look on his face that’s half horror, half “Have you completely lost your mind?” incredulity that he would totally be open to the idea of more kids.)
Deep in my heart, though, I know that I don’t really want to have any more babies. I love almost everything about a nice, snuggly newborn, but I also really like this stage of parenting, where I can say, “Go back to bed, it’s not morning yet,” or “I think you’re old enough to make your own lunch.” You can try that with a two-month-old, but then you have to get up and do what they want you to do anyway.
I’d happily hold a baby for a few hours, feed it a bottle, and snuggle it. I have no problems with changing the occasional diaper. But I don’t want to be responsible for its growth and development for the next 18 years. I’d take a baby I can love for an afternoon and then give back to its mom.
Wait a second…