A month or so ago, Clancy was able to finagle a trip back home so that she could attend her cousin’s wedding. Her uncle fell all over himself telling her how happy he was that she made it. She is his goddaughter. His relationship to his cousin (Clancy’s father, her uncle isn’t technically her uncle) was close enough that she was the only godparenting role he accepted.
All of this drove home something important: We have no idea who we would ask to be Jumping Bean’s godparents. We have no idea who we’d ask to take over if something happened to us.
It’s a sign of the changing times that we have this issue. I have two brothers, she has two sisters. Of these four, only one has children and none of the others plan to. We’re in the social range where choosing not to be a parent is, if not embraced, not uncommon. We are the designated parents for our blood and lineage, more-or-less.
This has affected the larger families beyond our immediate orbit, too. Her cousin Ally has said that her children and our children will have to be raised like first cousins, because there aren’t going to be many first cousins around (the cousin’s sister doesn’t plan to have kids). Minds on this score may change, but Ally and Clancy are embracing parenthood while it’s either a vague possibility or no-go for most of the others.
It’s worth noting that, in a pinch, any of our siblings would take our children in if something happened to us and they needed to (Clancy’s sister Ellie has really stepped up as a step-mother). It’s something we would rather not ask, though, of non-parents. There are also cousins who would do the same.
What we lack, though, is any sort of obvious choice. Ellie (Clancy’s middle sister) would be the favorite (which would have been unimaginable until the step-kid situation arose). However, in addition to the problematic step-kid situation she has, she also has the tendency to live in Third World Countries. We’re not sure about our kids being raised in the third world, and wouldn’t ask her to reroute her life on our (and our children’s) account. Her younger sister Zoey would be a fantastic mother, but isn’t ready to settle down. My older brother Oliver is a father of two, but… for a variety of reasons, it’s not a great fit.
My cousins are all problematic for one reason or another. She has a male cousin and two female ones. The male cousin, a major in the state police, jumps out at me as someone that would be great, but Clancy isn’t quite so sure. A female cousin who would be perfect is someone that, for a variety of reasons, we’ve just never been very close to (she was not on the list of people it occurred to us to personally inform Clancy was pregnant). The other female cousin, Ally, makes a lot of sense except for one thing: I don’t think she cares for me much, and I can’t say that’s entirely one-sided. She’s always been a sort of icily polite and has given me the impression that I am something of an unsophisticated rube more tolerated than anything else. I get along great with her husband, but never well with her. It seems petty to disregard what might be a good situation on the basis of personal impressions, but… I just find the thought discomforting.
There is one couple outside of the family that Clancy and I would consider so up-to-the-task that we would have no problem going outside the family. Interestingly, when we did discuss this as a way hypothetical a year or so ago, both of us thought of him independently as one of the only non-family-members we would entrust with our kids. Of course, he and his wife have decided not to have children. Would they step up? Probably so. We would for their kids even if we had the maximum number we wanted. It’s a lot to ask, though.