Friday, July 10, 2009

On children and grands

I am re-reading Carolyn Heilbrun's The Last Gift of Time, Life Beyond Sixty.

Here's a quote from her essay "On Mortality":

"This sense of limited time has given me, rather to my surprise, what I have come to understand is an eccentric, delicate distinction between my love for my children and for my grandchildren. Grandchildren have always been praised to me as the ultimate in parenthood, the joy of young children without the responsibility: one hugs them, plays with them, and hands them back. Our children's children say to us: I continue. But I have not found the joy in my grandchildren, great as it is, half so profound as the pleasure I take in my adult children. To perceive the enchantment of small children does not require the eyes of the old. To taste with special relish the conversation of one's grown-up children does, I suspect, demand a special sense of present time, a sense pertinent only to those in their sixties, or so it seems to me. I shall not see my grandchildren grow into adults, and if I were to last that long, I doubt I would retain as fervent an interest in them, their opinions, their experiences, as I now enjoy in colloquy with my own adult children. Perhaps because I am not a natural lover of children, the most potent reward for parenthood I have known has been delight in my fully grown progeny. They are friends with an extra dimension of affection. True, there is an extra dimension of resentment on the children's part, but once offspring are in their thirties, their ability to love their parents, perhaps in contemplation of the deaths to come, expands, and, if one is fortunate, grudges recede."

My goodness, I couldn't put it any better!

I was reading 20th Century Woman's recent posting "Saying Goodbye" in which, among other things, she looks forward to visiting her daughter, and the red wine that they will drink together. That image sticks in my mind and I so wish her well on that trip. During the winter my son and I talked about going for beer together at a local pub and somehow never made it, he lives a very busy life. I am sorry we didn't.

1 comment:

Barbara Anne said...

Hi Anne,

I so agree and I have that book, but have not yet read it as I'm "just" or "only" 58 with many months before my birthday. I do enjoy my sons and miss the older one who lives about 6 hours away. I hope to follow your wonderful example and just take a road trip and wind up at his door one day!