People sometimes say, Hey Susan. Why don’t you and James have any kids? And I smile and tell them to mind their own business. No, not really. I’m too polite for that, and too cowed by social expectation. When asked why we are kid-free by choice I make excuses, I confess to having a serious case of disinterest in self sacrifice. I plead fondness for naps (my own). I point at our dog, at our horse and even, sometimes, at my fish tank full of guppies (who, I might add, double in number every week, so don’t go suggesting I’m not helping to populate this planet.)
But the truth of the matter is that I’m already a mother of sorts. I am part of that noble breed also known as godmothers. That’s right. My aunt and uncle named me godmother to an actual human child. It was an honour that was bestowed upon me a couple of decades ago and it’s a responsibility that I take VERY SERIOUSLY.
The thing you have to consider when you’re a 16 year old (or so) newly minted godparent is: what if the kid gets to speaking age and expresses a desire to come live with you? What if when you are 18 your godchild’s natural parents won’t get him the science kit he wants and he gets a lawyer and you find him at the front door of your first apartment that you’re sharing with other three friends and you have to kick your fourth friend off the couch and make it into a PLAYROOM for your GODCHILD!
And then, as you get older and hit your twenties, you worry that as your godchild ages, he might need some spiritual direction. He might decide he wants to be a priest or something similarly unfortunate and then you’ll have to confess that you were only Catholic for a year or so because you wanted to go to school with your friends from up the hill and converting seemed like the simplest way to get transferred to their Catholic school. And what if this causes your godson to lose his faith in not just you but also GOD and this sets him on the road to ruin?
For a while in your late twenties and early thirties, you worry that high school will be too hard on him and will warp him and twist him the same way it did you. But your concerns are unfounded and when you check out his all “A”s report cards, you try to nod knowingly, like you too were honour roll material, even though at your school they didn’t put people with C- averages on the honour roll, and you still resent that. You wonder if perhaps someone with better marks may have been a better choice as godparent. After all, what if he asks you a question that requires you to have paid attention in high school?
Then you hit your mid-thirties (or slightly beyond, ahem) and you think all is going well with this child who is basically your responsibility, even though you don’t have to look after things like food, clothes, education or any of his other day-to-day needs. He’s in university and thriving. You breath a sigh of relief and secretly congratulate yourself on a job well done.
And then you receive the following:
Sigh. A godmother’s job is never done. As the accompanying note from his parents pointed out, the problem is most likely a “neglectful godmother”.
So don’t go asking me why I don’t have any kids. Because I do and worrying about him keeps me EXTREMELY busy.
Godmother Juby, signing off.
P.S. Happy Earth Day!