Monday, July 26, 2010

Dreaming Of The Future, Missing The Now

Grandparents are awesome. What a life they must have! Their grandchildren adore them, their kids finally appreciate them and respect them. Today as I was walking home from work, my random thoughts wandered over to the greatness of grandparents. Let me attempt to explain my thought process: I had a mental image of an elderly couple, surrounded by their children and their grandchildren, all happily together. Yup, I thought, getting old can’t be that bad when you’re surrounded by people you love. Ah, but there’s a catch, I realized. A grandparent has to put in the time with having kids to actually become a grandparent. Which then creates a dilemma, how do I become a grandparent if I don’t have a family of my own? Oh, but I DO have a family of my own! Have I just solved the problem of becoming a grandparent without having kids? Amazing!
Again, I want to stress that I’m not exactly against me having children in the future, if the situation called for it. I love kids, I work with them every day and they are a constant source of laughter, frustration, joy, delight, and learning. But when I do think about the future and what I want out of life, children are not on my list. I could easily see Reed being the only child I have, and for now I’m ok with that.

I’m not really good at thinking so far into the future though. For me, thinking ahead is knowing I’m going to be leaving one place in a couple of months, and so I plan ahead to where I’ll go next. The most I’ve ever thought about my long term future is in regards to my health and my desire to take care of myself now, doing my best to avoid becoming prematurely cancerous and brittle. Reed has added in a point of longevity to my thinking. I love thinking about when I’ll see him next, in December just after his first birthday. How much he will have changed! I love thinking about my subsequent visits, imagining us playing together, or thinking of silly jokes to tell him, or those precious opportunities I want to have to read to him before his bedtime or sing to him as he’s falling asleep. You have to understand that this is all new to me. Even just thinking about being in Singapore for two years is still taking some getting use to. I’m finding myself already looking at job opportunities and flight tickets, and I’ve only been here 3 months. This is the first time in a long time that the 3 month mark hasn’t come with the need to start sending out resumes and searching flights. With Reed, it’s easy for me to think ahead five or ten years or even longer. I was smiling from ear to ear when I thought about him making me a grandparent. My next mental image was years and years in the future, me sitting around with Doug and Maura at a family reunion of sorts, Reed with his lovely wife and lovely children running around with the rest of the extended family, all of us beaming as we’re watching this unique family we’ve created together. (And yes, I am fully aware now why my parents are always wondering if I’m ever going to ‘settle down.’ Luckily, since I’m the middle child out of five, they have other chances to become grandparents. My brother already has 3 kids, and I’ve made it clear that Reed IS their grandson, and that I hope they can have that relationship with him some day. Also, I’m fully aware that Reed may not ever want to get married or have children of his own- maybe it will run in the family?- or maybe he will find his own unique situation instead of the cookie cutter family that was in my daydream, and I will still be happy with whatever he brings into my life.)

The point of it all is, I now have people that will be in my life forever. Bill will be in my life forever. That’s a bit more difficult to think about since Bill’s life is almost as unpredictable as mine, but we are both committed to being able to share our lives with Reed and each other.

Meanwhile, Reed is growing and changing now, which is being witnessed everyday by Doug and Maura. All I have are my memories of the past and visions of the future, but they have his every day. This becomes hard at times for me to deal with, especially as I’m watching my little students (mostly 4-6 years old) interacting with their parents, their faces lighting up when they get out of class to see that their mommy or daddy is waiting to catch them in their arms. I have to make it a point not to think about Reed at work. Then there’s the mall, or the supermarket, or the bus or subway, or practically anywhere, where parents and children are sharing their every day’s together. Even when they are being naughty and the parent is exasperated, I sigh and think about how precious that every day moment is, that moment that I’m not sharing with my son.

Pictures certainly help with that. I may imagine a lot about Reed in the future(even up to the point of being a grandparent to his children- yikes!), but pictures help me see him for what he is now, what I'm missing. If I had my way, there would be a constant steady stream of snapshots being taken throughout the day at the Dotson household so I could witness as much of Reed’s days as I possibly could. I also know it’s a lot easier for me to wish for that then for a hard working and sleep deprived new mommy and daddy to send photos every day. Eventually I’ll have to get a web cam so I can communicate on skype, that will ease my heart a little.

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