My son has been married to his lovely wife for five years, and I remember when they first got married, my daughter-in-law told me they had discussed having children. Now it’s five years on and I’m still not a bubbe.
She is desperate to start a family because at 37 her biological clock is ticking really fast. Every time she brings it up to him, he either changes the subject or starts some sort of an argument. Their financial position is good and their lifestyle and family is very nice, except for the fact that she is not a mother.
I don’t want to interfere but can you give me some advice on how I can help them…please?
READ: I’m a Grandmother, Not a Babysitter
First of all, mazel tov on your five-year anniversary.
It sounds like you’ve worked hard to be a part of this marriage even though there are so many ovulation apps out there to choose from, drone registration has really slowed down data transmission times, and as my second grader likes to say, “IT’S NONE OF YOUR BEESWAX!”
Remember this awesome cameo from Howard Cosell in “Bananas” as he announces a play-by-play in the honeymoon bedroom?
That’s you right now—without the toupee, I presume.
So here’s the take-away: You are already interfering by consulting with your daughter-in-law and winding her biological clock, and this has to stop now.
I know this sounds harsh. And it may leave an empty hole (pun intended) in your daily schedule of hovering. I also don’t mean to single you out in any way because the lines between public and private have long been washed away by the interwebs, Instagrams, and legislators who want to require cameras up your ladyparts.
I also think your nose is directly connected to your heart. (Med schools don’t accept applications from fishballs, but hear me out.) Your meddling comes from a place of love and wanting to be connected to your dear son, which I appreciate. I will also confess that I’ve nosed my way into lots of relationships, and it’s always ended badly.
In high school, my friend Ellen and I were after the same bespeckled nerd whom I’ll call Nerd. The three of us hung out way too much, just waiting for something to happen. One night I suggested we give each other back massages. Maybe Nerd didn’t go to med school either because he thought Ellen’s back was her front. Still, I was undeterred. I lay on her bedroom floor, mushing my face into her pepto-pink carpeting while they groped each other just a few feet away. Time to leave? You betcha. But I couldn’t let go.
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In college I did a repeat performance. This time I was literally in the same bed with this couple going at it. At least I had the decency to roll myself off the edge before yelling, “I’m still here!”
I may sound like I’m laughing at it all, but Anxious, I am still very ashamed by the way I coveted my friends’ lovers. It came from a place of wanting to be close, yes. But it was wrong. Wrong enough to be included in the Torah’s Top Ten.
The ugliest and last time I did this was when I was in my early 20s and had a best friend whom I’ll call Noodle. (We ate a lot of pasta together.) I wanted to smell like Noodle, sound like Noodle, live inside her medulla oblongnoodle. And when she fell in love with The Boy, I did too.
I couldn’t admit it at the time. I lied to her about my feelings. Especially when she caught me and The Boy watching “Behind the Music” reruns while eating from the same bag of pretzels at 3 in the morning.
“We were just both…up,” I said.
Which none of us believed.
In the end, I hurt Noodle terribly, and she still won’t talk to me to this day. The Boy and I lived together for a while before he swam into someone else’s arms, and I was forced to really look at what I’d done. I call that the Shame-and-Regret-eozic Era. I still dig up bones and memories from that time in my backyard every now and then.
Anxious, if you’re still reading, I hope you’ll see this is nothing you want for your relationship with your kid. Or with your kid’s kid(s). You must find another way to be involved in his life, before he shuts you out.
So here is how you can help your son and his wife: Go to the movies. I’m serious. Join a walking or book club. Find a tutoring center or homeless shelter where you can volunteer your time. Buy a camera and gaze through the lens at what is already here.
READ: What My Baby & Her Great-Grandmother Have In Common
Look and listen to your own life. Pick up an autumn leaf and admire its golds and reds. It’s pretty awesome, isn’t it?
With love and schmaltz,
Have a question for Gefilte? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you might just get an answer.