My daughter Kate is 35 and still single. She shares a home with her boyfriend and I know this sounds very old fashioned, but why should he buy the cow when he can get the milk for free? I have brought this up with my daughter several times and she doesn’t seem to understand. What about children? I know it is much harder for women to get pregnant later in life.
Last week I gave her a bridal magazine when we went to lunch just to point out how beautiful a wedding can be and for the first time, she seemed very angry with me for bringing up this subject. I’m wondering if maybe she’s gay and not ready to come out.
Should I be worried?
Dear Worried Mom:
Worried? About what? That she might never marry and spawn little Worried Moms? That deep down she might be avoiding marriage because she is (gasp!) a lesbian?
The brevity of your email led me to engage you in a conversation about some particulars which are highly relevant.
1. Kate is a doctor and is in the process of becoming a board-certified plastic surgeon. Please send me her contact information post haste, as it may be time for a new set of lady pillows before I embark on my worldwide media tour.
2. She lives with her boyfriend of 4 years (he is a struggling artist, but aren’t we all?). This leads me to believe she’s probably not gay.
3. Despite your wishes, she has told you she either will remain childless or have only one, and she may adopt. This is very upsetting to you.
4. You have been divorced from her father for 15 years. Your divorce was highly acrimonious and dragged on for 3 years. You do not work, are still single and your other children (a son, 20, and a daughter, 25 and also unmarried) have moved over 2,000 miles away.
5. Your daughter about whom you are so worried is very happy and has told you that neither she nor her bologna pony feel the need to wed. This should actually make you thrilled because if they were to marry and it didn’t work out, your daughter would be stuck paying alimony.
6. In our talk you indicated you don’t think Kate’s boyfriend is “good enough” for her but when pressed further, you said he is loving, kind and supports her in her career. Still, your hope is that they will break up and she will meet another professional, preferably a doctor, settle down and get to the baby making business.
Honestly, I’m pretty sure I’ve cried tears of joy over beautiful shoes that are deeper than you.
Worried Mom, you want your daughter to lead the life that you led. But that didn’t really go so well, did it? Despite your unhappy marriage, bitter divorce and the effect it had on your children, you are still clinging to an old-fashioned and sexist ideology that served you poorly and that you now wish to foist upon your daughter, despite her stated unwavering wishes to the contrary.
You clearly tried over the years to create a mini-me but that damn feisty girl went out and formed her own personality, goals and desires. Damn her!
Should you be worried, Worried Mom? Yes. Should you be worried about your 35-year old exceptional daughter who has yet to be married? No. You should instead be worried about how to fix what is likely a highly dysfunctional relationship between you and your children.
The one child who chose to remain in your hometown is constantly badgered by her unhappy, unmarried and non-working mother to dump her beloved boyfriend, find a new one, get married and start pumping out babies. This pressure is being applied while she is finishing grueling work to become board-certified.
Imagine if you will that when you were attending college to obtain your MRS degree, your parents were pressuring you to excel in pre-med, go to medical school and not get married and have children until they felt you were ready. That doesn’t feel so good, does it?
Your other kids have moved far away from you. You refused to talk about that so I am hereby exercising my rights under OBC (Oregon Blogging Code) 69.69 to jump to conclusions and declare that your children may have simply had enough and needed to get away from you.
Your kids watched you and their father engage in a nasty and prolonged war to end their marriage in which both sides suffered extreme losses. Kate was 17 when all this started – a very vulnerable time in a young person’s life. I am not surprised Kate, and perhaps your other children, formed an opinion that marriage is a battlefield that should be avoided.
Having glanced at my watch and realizing I only have 8 hours left to do 15 hours of work today, I’m going to end somewhat abruptly with some advice I hope you take to heart:
1. Apologize to Kate for harping on her regarding her marital status and her boyfriend and never, ever go there again. In other words:
Because frankly, Worried Mom, you and your ex are the last people on earth from whom any of your kids want marital advice. When you apologize you should ask Kate how you can be more supportive to her during this amazing but challenging time in her life.
Listen to what she says, then follow through. Buying bridal magazines is not going to help her master the upper blepharoplasty, but maybe you could do some grocery shopping for her once in a while, or take her dog on a walk. Try being helpful instead of hurtful for a change.
2. Take an emotional inventory of your relationship with the other two kids. Are they aloof?
Avoiding your calls? Not wanting to come home for holidays? Since you were open to discussing just about everything but your out-of-town kids, I smell a problem there. I suggest opening up the lines of communication to determine what caused your estrangement and how to put things back together.
3. Start dating again and do work that has meaning to you whether paid or volunteer. Honey, you gotta get out there and DO SOMETHING or SOMEONE! You left the dating scene a year ago after two relatively long-term relationships post-divorce. The last one was a real heartbreaker for you.
My point is, you are entering the late autumn of your life (unless you drop dead tomorrow, in which case you should party tonight because it’s New Year’s Eve!) and there is still time to fill your days with people and activities that bring you joy and diminish the time you have to obsess over your grown children.
As you should very well know, marriage is not a reliable indicator of happiness, so chill out and let Kate make her own life plan. And you, Worried Mom, need to make a life plan of your own, lest you further alienate your children whom I know you care deeply for – despite my snarky way of expressing myself.