My sister is the good daughter. My sister was kind enough to get married and procreate. She’s not only doing the species a favor, but my parents as well. My parents had always wanted to be grandparents to a couple of rascals. My sister gave them two: Jackson and Elliot. My parents are obsessed with them.
Just as it was when my sister and I were little, there’s nothing in the world my parents won’t do for Jackson and Elliot. My mother has completely re-centered her life around them and refuses to miss a holiday or birthday. I spent Christmas on the couch by myself, while my mom catered to my sister’s kids every whim in Colorado. “That was the choice you made,” my mother said. I’m not sure what choice she’s talking about — the one where I decided to move to New York City to pursue writing, or the one where I thought going to Colorado for Christmas would be the pits. We both hung up on each other before we could get into a lengthy discussion and ruin the holiday even more. Besides, being on the phone with me was tearing her away from the grandkids, and we can’t have that, can we?
When my mother came home from Colorado the day after Christmas, she had some news for me: “I’m retiring next year. If you don’t give me grandchildren, I’m moving out to Colorado and staying put.”
I was sitting on the floor, flipping through the new Vogue and was immediately confused by this announcement. “You’re joking, right?” I asked.
I hadn’t been in a serious relationship in some time, and if I were going to do the whole baby thing, I’d like to do it in order – ideally, with love, marriage and then a mini-me in a baby carriage. How the hell was I supposed to pull off such a feat in a year?
“I’m not joking,” said my mother. “I love those kids and I want to be with them everyday.”
I wanted to tell her she was being obsessive, that no one wants to spend that much time with anyone. I wouldn’t want to spend every single day with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Instead I cried and went running to my father to be consoled.
“Your mother’s just foolin’ with you, Mandy,” he said. “We’re not moving away.”
My parents live in New Hampshire where my sister and I were raised. Both of them are born and bred New Englanders, and although I moved to New York City, a trip home to visit mom and dad is just a quick train ride away. My sister, however, having abandoned her east coast roots, has been in Boulder since college; you need a plane to get there.
My mother piped up: “No, I’m not staying around here. I have two grandkids in Colorado and I’m not going to miss out on their growing up, just because you need us to stick around and take care of you. We’re moving to Colorado, unless you join adulthood and think about settling down with a family.”
Her delivery wasn’t mean; she was just being matter-of-fact and honest. If I didn’t give them grandkids, they were going where they already had two. I was not happy.
I realize that I have not chosen the most conventional of life’s paths. I understand that had I not moved to New York, I’d probably be married with a few kids by now. But that was not the life that I wanted, and, honestly, given my history of depression, had I forced myself into that life, I would probably not be alive today.
While I respect my mother’s need to be around those oh-so-perfect grandkids, I don’t see why I should have change my life, speed up my plans and pop out a kid by next spring just to keep my parents around. Trying to land a great guy, who even wants to get married, let alone have kids, by next spring, is going to be near impossible. I’m being set up to fail, dammit!
And so what does one do? Do I alter everything just to keep my parents close to me, or do I say fuck it and accept they’re going to do what they want? In all seriousness, I really think they’d hate living out in Colorado, and probably would end up moving back within six months. New Englanders don’t move to Colorado and stay there for good – unless they’re my sister, of course.
My mother has threatened to move to Colorado a least a dozen times in 2013 so far. I have, to the best of my ability, tried to ignore her and pass it off as early-onset dementia. But if this is to be the case, if this is to really be the case, then I need to either suck it up and deal, or get myself impregnated stat. You know, because it’s really important to always do what others want you to do for them. In other words, “Bon Voyage, Mom and Dad.”