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When Mom Nags

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
One of the absolute worst things about the Single life is having one's own mother nagging one about being Single. It is a betrayal on a massive scale because Mom/Mum is usually the person you instinctively go to when you are feeling down and out or sick. This sometimes has absolutely nothing to do with the woman herself, but some infant instinct in our brain that still occasionally wails "Maaaamaaaaa!"

So it is awful when you are having a good day, or a lousy day, and you are enjoying your proximity to your mother, your first home, and suddenly she starts in on you about being Single. It's bad enough if you intend to be Single and are purposefully Single; when you don't want to be Single, it's a knife to the heart.

For the record, my mother did not nag me about being Single after I got divorced, even when I got my annulment and was theologically Single again with papers to prove it. She did second-guess my decisions to end dating relationships, however. Not being a mother, I am not sure why mothers do this. Maybe it's caused by an overflow of worry or resentment for having been in the orbit of yet another younger-generation drama.

I am trying to put myself in a mother's shoes, and see Singleness from a nagging mother's perspective. I never had any children, but I have twenty-something friends whose mothers are near my age, so I can imagine having a twenty-two year old daughter, at oldest. And frankly I would not give a darn if my twenty-two year old daughter were Single. In fact, I would rather that she were Single--especially Single and not dating---and concentrating on her university courses, her apprenticeship program or her fledgling business.

I would be much more annoyed if she were wasting her time chasing boys, or dating some happy-go-lucky simpleton, or (worse) a snarling control-freak, and that is where the temptation to meddle would probably get the better of me. I would write long blog posts for her, pretending that they were not for her, should she actually bother to read them. ("No, darling, what are you talking about? I was writing generally.")

But I like to think that once my darling daughter was established in her career, trade or business, that I would leave her alone, and hold my counsel, unless she came timidly to me for advice, and then I would let her have it, both barrels.

Sitting here in my imaginary mother-chair, I am open to the idea that mothers sometimes know what they are talking about. I know this is a radical idea, so I will quickly state that mothers very often haven't the foggiest clue.

If your mother married at twenty and had six children and her world is mostly church, the family business, the supermarket, the library and the mall, she very likely does not have a grasp of what it is like to be a Single woman your age. She thinks she does because she watches TV, but she doesn't because TV is not real life. Cute physicists with great jobs but lots of time just to hang out do not live across the hall from you. Nor is there a man at work who looks just like Angel, that is, David Boreanaz.

I think about what Single Life means for you every day, and yet I do not quite know what it is to be a Single woman your age. You are the experts on that.

However, mothers do know a lot, so it is absolutely worthwhile to listen to what your mother says as impartially as possibly and sort out the sense from the nonsense. For instance, it is nonsense to think that men would fall at your feet if only you cut your bangs (fringe). However, if your mother says you have pretty eyes, than it is indeed possibly that you do have pretty eyes and should show them off.

Meanwhile, since it is one of her principal jobs, your mother is aware of how your moods, behaviours, relationships and choices affect the rest of the people in the household. That can always be a big ol' shock to a young woman: the fact that her personal life, which she thought so private, actually has an impact on those with whom she lives. I can see how a daughter's ignorance of, or indifference to, this would drive a mother crazy.

It can be hard to grasp this, but mothers are just other women. They happen to be the women who affect you more than any other women in the world, but it is helpful to remember that they are really just women with lives of their own. They form their own impressions of the world, and they repeat them if they think this won't get them into trouble. Sometimes these impressions have great merit, and sometimes they don't.  Some mothers have great advice, and some mothers do not. Some mothers feel confident about their place in the world, and some tyrannize over their kids because this is the only way they feel any power.

Anyway, sound off in the combox. What advice has your mother given you that was really great? And what advice has she given you that was utterly lousy? Feel free to be anonymous today.