New Motherly Worries

As I have alluded to in a previous post, I have recently been to San Francisco to visit my son. Of course, in visiting my son, I also had to visit his girlfriend. And then, her mother was in town too. That, my friends, is a lot of potential family to digest in one visit.

I happen to like the choice of girlfriend my son has decided to make. The way I see it, he could have done much worse. Of course, it is slightly unnerving to hear her refer to herself as a “fiance.” (So far, I have not heard the words coming from my son.) They are very young. He just turned 21 and she is 25. I personally think they should wait at least five years before tying any knots, but you cannot tell young people what to do. If you try to tell them what to do, they usually do the exact opposite.

The Girlfriend has a few problems. These are mental. (No, I mean it.) She is, I believe, bipolar. She can go from cheery to morose faster than one can blink an eye. Because of her condition, she sleeps very little. Or perhaps because she sleeps so little, it contributes to her condition. Both she and my son are slobs, and they live with a sloppy ex-hippie, so the three of them are as happy as pigs in a poke. The roommate has said that he likes them so much, he would like them to continue living there even after they graduate.

The Girlfriend is also spoiled. I think her family in Japan has far more money than we do. In this economy, many people in the US are not exactly middle class any more. I think we are one of them. They provide her with a credit card, and while she does not pay rent, she contributes by buying food and clothing.

The mother of the Girlfriend is not happy with the situation. Oh, she likes my son, but she would like to see her daughter return to Japan after she gets her diploma. I tried to explain this to my son last year. At the time, the Girlfriend and the mother got into a tiff, resulting in the mother cutting off the money supply. This was when the Girlfriend moved in with my son. I asked my son at the time if the rift were because of him. (In polite Japanese society, the parents like the children to marry nice Japanese men and have nice Japanese babies. Moving to another country, even if it is America, is not an option.)

After all, the same thing happened to my mother. She bucked conventional thinking and ran after my father, an Army private. She chased him all over Asia, before snagging him and moving to the US. Her parents were so angry, they didn’t speak to her for 15 years. My son assured me that it wasn’t the case. They don’t do that anymore, he said. That was after the war.

Well, since you can’t tell adult children what to do or what your opinion is, what was I to say?

I was a daughter-in-law once, and I saw how destructive it is when the concerned mother says too much. The other thing is that I’m really fairly laid back. I’d like to believe that all will work itself out in the end. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

My first worry was to see my son move across the country. After that, it was wondering if he would graduate. Then it was worrying whether or not the kid would get a job.

Now my motherly worries include wondering if I can keep biting my tongue.

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11 Responses

  1. How about a big virtual hug from your pal Wanda? I’m afraid I can’t give you any more than that. I’m afraid I can’t speak any more on the subject, at least until my son reaches his 20’s unscathed.

  2. I’m so glad I’m single. So very glad. The only thing I have in common with your son is that I’m a slob, but I can see myself falling in love and getting married at that age. Heck, I can seem myself doing that tomorrow. The 20s are a little freaky. I’m just concentrating on not doing anything too reckless.

  3. I think continuing to bite your tongue is the best possible option. As they say, ‘there’s many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip’ – so the wedding may never actually take place. But if it does, you need to stand by smiling, while he makes that particular mistake.

    Bummer. ;(

  4. I think she’s likely to be pushing the marriage question because it’s the only way she might be able to appease her parents. If she marries after graduation and stays here with her husband, it’s far more acceptable than for her to stay here on her own, at least in her parents’ eyes. She wants to stay here after graduation so she needs to find an acceptable way to do it.

    I know about not interfering. I try not to say anything to my son about his girlfriend, or to my girls about their boyfriends. It’s a tough line to toe.

  5. Reading and thinking sympathetic and empathic thoughts. No advice to give.

  6. Yikes.

    Personally, I think there’s a fine line between not interfering, and giving your kids the benefit of your greater experience. After all, you’re the one they’re going to call after it falls apart and they need consolation, right? Right.

    One of the things that frustrates me the most about my mother is that she *didn’t* say anything to me when she thought I was making a major relationship mistake. Later, I wondered why she hadn’t cared enough to say anything. I wouldn’t have wanted her to harass me, but I think I would have appreciated something along the lines of “Hey, David — it’s your life and I respect that, and you’re going to make the choices you need to make, but because I care about you, I’d like to tell you what I see about this situation, and you can take it or leave it. It’s hard to have an objective perspective on your own life no matter how old you are, and even at my age, I trust my friends to point out things I might not be seeing. So what I see about this situation is ….”

    (fill in the blank)

    That might not get you anything more than the satisfaction of being able to think “I told you so.” And maybe I’m wrong, and my perspective is linked too much to the crazy dysfunctions of my own family.

    But I did wonder why my mom didn’t feel she could say anything when she saw me moving toward a really bad mistake. As it happened, I didn’t make the mistake. But due to her silence, I actually thought she wanted me to marry my fiancee, while all the time she was hoping I’d come to my senses.

  7. I think David is right. Since your son hasn’t used the word “fiance” yet, maybe you could approach him. Just do it older adult to adult and step lightly. He may be able to reassure you.

  8. I dread this kind of situation. I already experience maternal angst with my son and his girlfriend(s). His first “real” girlfriend I liked until she upset him, and then I hated her. It was hard for me to conceal my dislike.

    I suspect I will have the same tongue-biting issues as you in the future.

  9. I think I’ll leave the approaching to his father. That way, I won’t be the bad guy.

  10. Good strategy.

  11. hmmm, it looks like the only thing to be learned here is that, no matter what you do (speak out or not) you’re going to be in the wrong! But then, what fun would life be if we couldn’t blame our parents for all our woes??!

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