3.31.2009

And you thought I was done talking about the plight of the Singleton

Except I'll never be done. Never.

I went out to dinner awhile back with some excellent girl friends. It was great to catch up and hear how everyone's doing. Until one friend started telling her story and then our brains exploded out our ears.

Here's a girl who is around my age, has a college degree, and has served a mission. She's attractive, funny, down-to-earth, is a loyal friend and proud auntie, she goes on cool adventures, and she can cook like you would not believe. So pretty much the whole package. Yes, she would rather not be single, but she's not the mopey sort and in the meantime is doing really good things with her life.

Great, right? Except NOT. Her parents are so worried about her single status that they Cannot. Leave. It. Alone. And the fact that she does not appear more worried about it or more "anxiously engaged" in catching herself a man (any man) just unsettles them even more. They signed her up for an online dating site without her consent, they try to set her up with every divorced guy in the neighborhood who just moved back in with his parents, they recruit her married sisters to gang up on her about her life, and they ask her if maybe she has considered flirting more.

Now, My Friend's Mom and Dad, I get that you want your sweet, lovely daughter to be happy. I get that. What I would also like to get is the number for your crack dealer.

Because seriously, if your goal is to see your child happy, how is making her miserable by continually harping on the one thing she cannot control the best way to get her on the path?

You have this gorgeous, kind, smart, educated daughter. Do you realize how much worse it could be? She could be:

1. On drugs.

2. On the run from the law.

3. Homeless

4. Secretly stealing your money.

5. Sleeping around.

6. Dating a string of losers who treat her badly.

7. Pregnant with a drug-dealer's kid.

8. Living at your house with her drug-dealer baby daddy babies.

9. Stuck in a bad marriage where you worry about her and her children constantly.

10. Still single, but constantly moaning about how miserable and wretched she is and making efforts that completely reek of desperation. (Note: I don't know of many desperation-fueled marriages that worked out well.)

And here's the other tip, parents. I get that it's hard for you to worry about your daughter, but it's much, much harder to BE your daughter. It is hard to be single in the LDS culture. It just is. It is hard to commit to a life of celibacy that could last who knows how long. It is hard not to know when/if you'll have a family of your own. It is hard to watch what seems like everyone else moving on with their lives while you're searching for meaningful Plan Bs to keep you busy. It is hard to deal with people pitying you and assuming that you must be doing something wrong and defining you by what you don't have.

So when a single person is able to maintain a good attitude in the face of all that, you DO NOT MESS WITH THAT. It is not your job to make your daughter doubt herself, because there are enough people and situations lined up for that very task. YOUR job is to be supportive, encouraging, and to maybe secretly put her name on the prayer roll in the temple, without ever, ever telling her you're doing it. (ps. Thanks, Coolmom and Cooldad! You guys are awesome at spinster parenting.)

I turned to another single friend during dinner and asked, "So, do your parents give you this kind of crap, too?"

She snorted: "No way. My dad just asked me if I've considered going for a Ph.D."

Which is how it's done, people.

41 comments:

AmyJane said... [reply]

"Spinster Parenting." I'm seeing a book deal with that title.

Nemesis said... [reply]

You think so? I should probably get a proposal together and start sending it out. Way to help me make my fortune!

Desmama said... [reply]

Totally agree with this post. Totally, totally agree.

Melissa said... [reply]

Ugh as a VERY old single LDS girl (I'll be 32 soon)...

THANK YOU!

I've had the chance to be married, and passed.

Luckily (I guess lol) my parents don't exist in my life so no family pressure.

But oh my hell the pressure from my home teachers, my bishop, my ward, my room mates. It KILLS me.

Guess what people? We're trying to be happy. Let us. Would it be nice to have someone that loves us and babies? Yeah probably.

But I will take being single until the day I die then be in the marriages I've seen (and see!) my friends going through.

Marriage does not always equal happiness.

Spitfire said... [reply]

So I take it you disapprove of drug use?

Nemesis said... [reply]

Desmama, thank you!

Melissa, thank you for being another voice of reason here! And you have absolutely hit the nail on the head. Marriage to the right person at the right time = happiness. Marriage under the wrong conditions = way, way worse than Spinsterhood.

Spitfire, as long as it's recreationl, it's all good.

goddessdivine said... [reply]

Amen and amen. I love these posts, and I hope that even though you have elevated your marital status, you continue to humor us with these diatribes.

I almost died when I first heard this happening to our friend. I was ready to march over to her parents' house and give them a talking to (I think you should send them this post). And then of course I want to find excellent words of wisdom from the likes of sister Oaks, Sister Dew, and G.E.'s who encourage us singletons to live life to its fullest without moping about and/or desperately seeking a proposal.

Yeah, I like that my folks don't harp me. I think my dad just wants a doctor in the family. ;-)

goddessdivine said... [reply]

And Melissa, if you're 'VERY old', I'm VERY, VERY old. Yikes. I beat you by a few years.

CoolBoy said... [reply]

You mean I've spend this time I was looking for a sugar momma and all I had to do was ask you about your friends? Good grief!

my verification word is "couth"...more like "uncouth".

trentathon said... [reply]

Great thoughts, you hit the nail right on the head. Things could be a lot worse and that is something that parents and extended relatives with all their good intentions need to realize!

Melanie said... [reply]

Amen.

chosha said... [reply]

I hope your friend sends her parents a link to your post. What they're doing may be well-intentioned, but it's also really, really mean. She sounds like a great person, and shouldn't her own mum and dad be the FIRST people to notice?

Emily said... [reply]

It's nice that you remember this stuff.

Seems like so many people I know get married and forget. And then they use every opportunity to remind us how WONDERFUL being married is, and how HAPPY they are, and that we should really work on that. Since obviously being single means it isn't important to us, and maybe if we just tried harder or prayed longer then we would finally deserve and receive blessings like theirs.

Yeeeaaah. Thanks.

april said... [reply]

i have to say part of this post reminded me of that part in "juno" where she tells her parents she's pregnant and they were like i was hoping it was drugs or tons of other stuff that would indicate my child is a loser rather than pregnant.

anyhoo, my brother-in-law was single for quite a while. he lived in salt lake but his job brought him to los angeles a lot. he talked about how he felt normal in L.A., but a freak in utah. it is hard to be single for a long time in our church; i'm sorry that this girl has to deal with so much from her parents as well. crazy. my stepmom always told me that when you're 18 marriage is going to seem so wonderful, but if you just wait a couple of years, it will go away. i know this statement probably doesn't seem to apply, but i thought it was sound advice. it shows that my parents were more concerned about me being mature enough to recognize a good partner in life rather than be caught up in emotions. (for the record, i have no problem if you were married at 18. my sister-in-law was and she's amazing - she also finished college at 19, but i digress.) i knew that they didn't want me to get married just for marriage sake. another quote: "it takes a really good husband to be better than no husband at all." that one was given to me by my mother-in-law. i would hate to ever see someone (especially a smart woman) settle even though i can't imagine how lonely it must be at times.

Bean said... [reply]

Very well said. Seriously.

Science Teacher Mommy said... [reply]

"I'd rather be alone than be right."

Hah! A year's supply of crack to the first person who can name the movie that came from, though it will be freely admitting that you are in your mid-thirties and loved pathetic Gen X teen romances as much as I did (do).

Oh, and Nem is supplying the crack.

Great post. It seems like half the married women I know personally right now are completely screwed up because of the way they are dealing with wifing and parenting. If you can't find a large measure of contentment and fulfillment alone, then you will never find it with somebody else. I don't even think it is fair to ASK another person to do that for you. Your fantastic friend's parents are implying that she cannot be whole without a spouse.

Funny, I thought that making-you- whole-thing was the job of the Savior.

Z's Wife said... [reply]

I hated being single, mormon and residing in Utah as well when it was all going down. I didn't have problems with my parents as much as I did my grandparents but that is a WHOLE other story. I totally feel your friends pain though. I hope she finds some amazing guy on accident after her parents decide to give up so she can point and laugh... because that would be awesome.

Holly said... [reply]

I was 29 (3 months shy of my 30th birthday) when I married (nearly 12 years ago, now).

Been there. Done that. Had the degree (was considering the master's). Had the job. Had a pretty good life and was at the point where I knew I could be happy if I never married. Except, I had the cool parents. I feel for your friend.

And, "Spinster Parenting"? Totally awesome book title.

Roxie said... [reply]

Can I get an AMEN!

My parents aren't that bad, at least not actively. They're more passive about it all. Like for the family Christmas letter last year, they were putting pictures of all of us with my new nephew. When I asked them if nothing else exciting happened in our family, my mom honestly said no. It was good to know that my moving and starting a PhD wasn't exciting news in my family.

My last bishop, on the other hand, was a lot more forceful. During tithing settlement he asked if things didn't work in the kissing department with the guy I was seeing and if that's why we weren't married.

Enough to make you pull chunks of hair.

Jenny said... [reply]

Parenting: the rearing of children by their parents
Interfering: to intrude in the affairs of others; to meddle
the end.

Audra said... [reply]

According to Phil Collins' song "You Can't Hurry Love", his momma offered this gem of advice:

"No, I cant bear to live my life alone. I grow impatient for a love to call my own. But when I feel that i, I cant go on. Well these precious words keep me hanging on

I remember mama said
You cant hurry love
No, youll just have to wait
She said love dont come easy
Well, its a game of give and take
You cant hurry love
No, youll just have to wait
Just trust in a good time
No matter how long it takes!"

Now THAT is a good momma! Haha!

But seriously... you gotta marry your match or you will be miserable! I remember at BYU looking at my roommates and thinking "Who will be the first to go? (aka Get Married)." Heck, we may have even had this discussion some late night freshman year! Anyway, I remember especially in my apartment when I only had 5 roommates, so it was easier to "rank" them... I TOTALLY put myself on the bottom of the list! I was quirky, mostly ackward, low self-esteem...

Anyway... I ended up being amoung "the first to go" because I met my match! And the girl I thought would be the first was one of the last because she had not met her match yet. She could have easily out of desperation "settled" with the married is better than no-married. She had a ton of guys interested in her. But there was no "spark". But in the mean-time she did some awesome things!

My point is the same as everyone else's... you just need to let your child do their thing! Nothing would be worse than them ending up in a terrible marriage and having the "Man, maybe I pressured her too much to get married and now she is married to a loser" thought hanging over your head!

Bethany said... [reply]

amen. maybe you should start a snarky dating service. just saying...

Carly said... [reply]

Thank you! I'm so glad you won't be forgetting the plight of the singletons! I feel so bad for your friend!

My parents have cooled off on this subject, but it was bad for a while, especially when my younger brother and sister both got married 4 and 5 years ago(I'm the oldest). I think I was feeling bad enough for myself but I was trying to make the best of it so I said something about getting a little purse dog (I'm allergic to cats... otherwise) and a Mini Cooper and "wouldn't I be cute"? My Mom's response: "You'd be cuter with a ring on your finger pushing a stroller!" Said in all seriousness. I really think I just started crying.

Of course that's what I've always wanted and I think my reaction to her words made my mom realize that it's not something I can control. I was trying to be happy with things I could control (ok a dog and a car aren't the answers to happiness, I know that) and luckily she realized that. I haven't gotten much interference since. But I still do feel like it's at the back of their minds.

It's a great blessing so of course it's something they want for me, but pressuring me isn't going to help the situation.

I still don't have a purse dog or a Mini Cooper either... sad!

FOODIE said... [reply]

Who says no drugs are involved and a few laws haven't been broken which law enforcement hasn't linked me to yet?

I just wanted to add a few things.

First, Mom likes to tell everyone (i.e. family, neighbors, random individuals who happen to be passing by her tirades)that not only do I not know how to flirt, but that I just don't try either. There is just no "TRYING" to get married happening.

Second, "You're Dad is going to have a talk with you!" In reference to them dropping the internet dating thing, but that I am doing something wrong enough to deserve a PPI with my Father?! Still waiting for that one...kinda wish they would hurry it up, it would make a fabulous post!

Third, Mom having a small freak out session when it was mentioned a person of different ethnicity thinks my roommate and I are hot. "Well it isn't like you would ever date a black guy right?" "I mean you would never actively pursue someone like that right?"

That one was pretty funny actually.

Thanks for the post! You put it much nicer than I would have. I get catering rights to your book signing btw!

lifeinthenhs said... [reply]

Of course I cannot understand how it feels to be LDS, single in Utah; I am none of those things. I married young, at 21 to a man I knew to be the right one, however I had never had another serious boyfriend and I hadn't slept with anyone else (still haven't I might add). It hasn't been plain sailing but it has been right. My two brothers are currently going through marriage break ups, they married young, my parents always considered them bad matches, but despite having no reason to do so pressured both into marriage.

All I would say is that as someone who now has an 18 year old son, I am at the same time keen for him to meet a girl, but don't want anything serious that might prevent him concentrating on his studies. I hope I will never say anything that in any way suggests I want him married with children any time in the next 10-15 years, unless of course it is the right person.

goddessdivine said... [reply]

foodie, I still think you should show up to your house with an ethnically diverse 'boyfriend'. Now that would make an awesome post.

Kelly said... [reply]

Ugh! Ugh ugh ugh!

Ever since I was maybe 16, my mom has talked about her "grandbabies". As an only child, you know where those grandbabies are coming from. She would talk about how she wants to spoil them or tell me how I should raise them or dreams she had about them. On and on. When I started seriously dating someone in my mid-20's and started talking marriage, she could barely contain herself.

Then we broke up. After that, no more grandbaby talk. Which in a way was kind of almost worse because it seemed like she had concluded there was no hope for me. It was weird to deal with the overt Mormon world pressure, the pressure I put on myself, and my mom's silence as pressure to find a man and start a family.

kip said... [reply]

I can relate. And sadly, the excitement over you actually finding someone and getting married is quickly tempered by the fact that you aren't producing offspring fast enough.
I recently moved into a new ward where lots of people are asking me about my situation. When I say we have no kids, people ask "how long have you been married?" When I say 2 1/2 years, they say "oh."

Science Teacher Mommy said... [reply]

A Mini Cooper may not be the foundation of happiness, but it might be a brick in the building. Go for it.

mj said... [reply]

Awesome. So true. My parents also did not get it for a long time. Then one day when I was like 27, my Dad said something like, "You know what? You're life is totally different than mine. I never had so many possibilities and decisions to make. I got married when I was twenty and then the course was set. I really don't know what it's like." And I said, "No you don't" and "Thank you." My mom never really got it, often suggesting that I was being "too picky" (cute) but at least she never set up an online dating profile for me (sheesh). And when I found the right guy he was really the right guy. And I would do all that waiting all over again for a guy as right for me as my husband. (Not that that's a good idea, universe.)

Elsha said... [reply]

I have an uncle who started introducing my cousin as his "single daughter who is looking for a husband" when she was like 20. Made me SO thankful my parents are sane.

Kristeee said... [reply]

Man, the girl is such a good sport. I would've been reduced to tears on so many occasions. Ugh. I know her parents mean well, but some of the things they say make me cringe, and I'm not their daughter!

Being single is not an affliction, nor does it require an aggressive treatment. Being married isn't a quick-fix to happiness and bliss. I think it's awesome that our friend is happy and enjoying life, and not bemoaning the wretched, pathetic life that other singletons sometimes do. Her parents should be proud of the wonderful woman she is, and stop trying to say that she'll be whole when she's married. She's pretty freaking amazing the way she is.

Maree said... [reply]

Amen and AMEN!

My parents weren't pushy, but others were. I had the *pleasure* of being in the receiving lines for both of my younger sisters. I warned them the second time....and I did it! Mind you, I AM a card-carrying, Temple-attending LDS, but I couldn't help myself. When I had the dreaded question: "Boyfriend/When are we coming to YOUR wedding?" I just had to say it! I proudly told them (loudly) that I was gay. I figured such a bold lie would let them know that their intrusiveness was not appreciated.

I'm looking for your book in the bookstore.

Kari said... [reply]

Bee-a-you-tifully said! We preach that we believe God has a plan for each of us, but when it looks like the plan doesn't include marriage at 20, suddenly we don't believe in that individual plan so much anymore! So well said!

Anonymous said... [reply]

Please write that book! Thank you for your post. I just want Mr. Right to know the awesomeness that is my daughter but I have gone about it all wrong. I will have your advice painfully tattooed on the inside of my brain so that when I am tempted to start the "Would you hurry and get a husband so I can have some grandbabies routine" I can refer to it.


Satisfied with being Single or Married and Miserable. Yes, I would pick the former for her.


Signed Guilty Mama

Taren said... [reply]

i made my mom read this.

Kristy said... [reply]

Very well said, Nemesis. This post topic sort of reminds me of the book For Matrimonial Purposes by Kavita Daswani.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Kristy, I've been meaning to read that book! Thanks for the reminder.

Miss M said... [reply]

Oh my goodness, I cannot say AMEN! enough. I am sending a link to thie blog to all my wonderfully talented and beautiful single friends who have people like those parents in their lives.

Being 32 and single I feel like this post has been the theme of my life for the past 10 years. Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting it so perfectly.

Hiccup MeL said... [reply]

Taren -- I made my mom read this too. Like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air said, "Parents just don't understand".

Justin Nixon said... [reply]

My friend Annie showed me your blog. Just wanted to say i like it, but you're only like 22, so i'm not sure why you're so worried about the marriage thing. I used to get bugged about it all the time by family and friends after my mission, but now that i'm almost 29 and still single, i think they have given up. So no worries. Maybe they'll leave you alone soon :)

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