We make our way over to where Jay and Em are living. It is a dump. A derelict house that has been marked for demolition to make way for three townhouses. But it is cheap and all they can afford. I hate going there. It wreaks of cat pee and is very damp. It is no place to bring up a baby.
As we arrive, Em is in the front garden. We don’t say anything to him and just enter the house. I hug Jay. “Are you okay?”
She looks up at me. I can see she is frightened. I feel sick at what is unfolding around me. This is definitely a game-changer.
Em enters the house and takes a seat beside Jay. He puts his arm around her shoulder. I like that.
Dee speaks first. “I’m not happy…” he pauses. Em’s face suddenly drains of all colour. “…about being called Grandad.” Dee smiles a big smile and we all laugh, if somewhat nervously. It is enough to break the ice and we start chatting about the baby.
Em immediately says that they will look for something better to live. He knows that they cannot bring a baby into this environment. We offer to help them with the deposit. We know that they don’t have a jellybean to rub together. Teenage love (lust) knows no financial planning, I am afraid.
“What are your intentions, Em. Are you going to marry Jay?” I suddenly blurt out. Jay glares at me, but I can’t help myself. I am a traditionalist. I know it’s not a requirement these days, but I need to know.
Em looks down, then back at me. “It’s on the cards,” he says. Safe answer. Later Jay tells me that he clarifies with her that it’s not on the cards for a long time. Just as well, none of us can afford a big wedding right now and I know Jay has been dreaming of a big wedding from when she was a little girl. What am I saying? She is still a little girl, my little girl!
“How are you feeling about everything Em?” I ask.
“I will go along with whatever Jay wants.” Dee and I both know that this means he wishes at this moment that she had chosen the easy option. I hope that this changes.
We ask about the hospital visit. “I started having quite bad abdominal pains, so Em took me to the hospital. They confirmed that I was pregnant, but the pains could mean that it is an ectopic pregnancy which is why I have to go for an ultrasound tomorrow.”
“Are you going to be there, Em?” I ask. I want to ascertain his level of involvement straight off the bat.
“Yes, I will be there.” He looks shell shocked. I know how he feels. We are all shell shocked. I feel surreal, like I am walking through someone else’s life.
We decide to leave. There doesn’t seem much else to say. I give Jay a big hug. “It will be okay.” I say.
We dissect the evening’s conversation on the way home. “Did you have to bring up marriage?” Dee says.
“I know, I just panicked. Who gets married just for the sake of the kids these days? I really wish I hadn’t said it now. You were funny though, giving Em the scare of his life. He thought you meant you weren’t happy with him.”
“That was my intention. I’m not happy with him, or Jay, but I want him to know I expect him to take care of our daughter.”
We are quiet for the rest of the journey home. I still feel sick. I am ashamed of myself for worrying about what other people will think. Jay is only 19 after all, and she was so difficult in the last two years. I imagine people thinking that they expected this. I am even more ashamed at wondering how this will affect how people see me as a parent. I wonder if there is something more I could have done. Perhaps I should have been more strict, perhaps I could have been more involved in her life. JC took up so much energy, after all.
Jay is not ready for this. I think of my mom at 19 finding out she was pregnant with me. She must have been so frightened. I feel a pang in my stomach. Oh Mom. Why oh why did you have to die? I really really need you right now.
Getting into bed, we discuss becoming grandparents. “I don’t feel I have perfected motherhood, nevermind entering grandmotherhood.”
“Our daughter certainly doesn’t do things in half measures, does she?” Em says.
It is true. Jay has always pushed the boundaries, always lived life to the beat of her own drum, and not always in a good way.
As I drift off to sleep, I imagine myself as a grandmother. I toy with what I want to be called. Nanna? Nope. Grannie? Nope. Urgh, I am way too young for this!