ON KIDS, GRANDPARENTS, & BEING WORTH IT

  1. Yesterday, my cousin gave me an impassioned speech about how she hopes if I ever have kids, I’ll let my dad into their lives to 'give them the blessing of a grandfather.'
  2. As if, after over a decade of painstakingly creating and maintaining a safe distance from my father, I will suddenly decide to call him up the second I give birth. As if I would ever want him anywhere near my children.
  3. My cousin has two little boys, the oldest not quite three, and apparently her father is a wonderful grandfather to them, despite neglecting and starving and verbally abusing his children for years, and I’m happy for her, truly, but I can’t really comprehend it, assuming someone is safe for your kids when they were never safe for you.
  4. ‘I hear people who won’t let their kids see their grandparents & it makes me so upset because it’s like, you’re depriving your kid of their grandparent who loves them. They just love them,’ she repeated, & if it hadn’t been for the tears in her eyes, I might have laughed.
  5. 'Well, sure,’ I wanted to say. 'I mean, supposedly my dad loves ME. That doesn’t make him worth it.’
  6. Because it’s not like love exists in a vacuum, it’s a package deal, and just because you can’t buy love doesn’t mean you can’t place a value on it, weigh it against something else, the benefit versus the cost (to me, to my kids), and it’s just not worth it, when you do the math.
    HE'S not worth it.
  7. 'My grandpa was physically and verbally abusive to my dad, but he was a wonderful grandfather. I was shocked when my dad told me. I never would have guessed,’ my cousin said.
  8. & all could do was gape in horror, thinking about hearing, years after I’d cut both of them out of my life, the stories about the emotional abuse my own grandfather, my dad’s step-dad, inflicted on my dad, and thinking, 'And you left me alone with him?'
    Because really, shouldn’t my parents have wanted to protect me, & how could they know my grandfather would be worth it? (And he wasn’t, in the end, not enough to justify the risk.) How did my dad know his step-father wouldn’t do to me what was done to him?
  9. 'No one’s going to do to my kids what was done to me,' I say a lot, even though I know it’s a promise that's not entirely in my hands, a promise I almost certainly won’t be able to keep.
  10. But I can try. I can keep them away from the people I know aren’t safe, the people who did to me what I hope is never done to them.
  11. Not every grandparent is a blessing, after all.
  12. Not everyone is worth it.