Do other women associate the feeling of long-lasting love with the desire to create babies together, no matter how impractical or improbable? I definitely don’t want any more children and even if I did, Mother Nature would surely slap her forehead at the notion of it being possible now. But in spite of this, I would hope that the man I grow old with, on some level, would want to give me his children.
Drew has a son and a daughter. “Which one do you want?” he joked, confused. It took a while for him to understand my way of thinking.
Between us and in between us we have five grown up children, but they will always be either his or mine, not ours, and they were there first.
At certain times there are others who take priority over a life-partner. For us, these times will likely be frequent, but the difficulty is that we do not share these people equally. My children are not his children; his children are not mine. We both are mindful not to overstep an imaginary boundary line for fear of upsetting each other, our sort-of-step-children or their other parents. Some would call it a minefield and so would I if it wasn’t such an overused metaphor, but we’ve been lucky to avoid any serious injury so far.
In our early days I would tease Drew about us adopting a Chinese baby girl together and once spectacularly embarrassed him in a gift shop when he was looking at stuffed corgis while trying to convince me how cute they were. Before flouncing off at what I imagined was drama queen stride, I loudly announced to him and anyone else I wickedly hoped might be listening: “I know what you’re doing Drew. I don’t want a dog – I want another baby!” Apparently he received sympathetic looks, before catching up with me. Well, I thought it was funny.
We have even named the imaginary children we will never have. One of each. Max and Betty. As it turns out, naming imaginary babies is a lot easier than real ones – pretty much instant in fact. Although come to think of it, he chose the names and because I was so charmed by the fact that he was understanding rather than simply humouring me, I agreed with his choices uncomplainingly.
The babies born in our families since we met have been our grandchildren – his and mine. It was much harder for me to settle on what I would be known as on becoming a grandmother than it was to name my children and, in the end, my daughter decided to call me Nana which was the only grandmother name ever used in our family. She rejected those made up grandmother names many women ask to be called these days for fear of sounding too elderly.
Drew was already a besotted grandpa and excited for me about the imminent arrival of my first grandchild and since she was born in the summer of 2012, there have been three more granddaughters and another grandson. So we now have five granddaughters and two grandsons and despite the population boom, still can’t quite believe we’re old enough.
These new people have no memories of Drew or me with our former spouses and so this generation, if not their parents, expect love from us as a couple without reference to any bloodline hierarchy. It’s up to us to make sure they are given it equally because we owe them something they won’t understand for many years – if ever. They give us total, uncomplicated acceptance of our partnership and the fulfilment of that desire to create babies together. Although as Drew often says: we can keep on ‘trying’.