The Evolution of Talks With Mom (Ms. Rita, to you) About Women In My Life
The way Mom met a girlfriend of mine for the first time was nothing like we see on sitcoms, though it did involve a sitcom.
I was in high school, and my girlfriend and I were at my house, no adult supervision, just us, sitting there watching “Saved By The Bell” on the couch like we owned the place. I promise, we weren’t doing anything, because you don’t make out on family furniture and you don’t make out during “Saved By The Bell.” Those aren’t rules, they’re laws, but I digress…
Mom came home from work earlier than I expected. She walked into the living room, saw us sitting on the couch and politely said, “Hello” which shocked me because I could’ve sworn she was going to say, “Do you pay bills in this place? I’m just wondering cause you’re acting like it by bringing this fast ass girl over here to my house and sitting on the couch with her like it’s okay. Boy, if you don’t…” But Mom played nice. I introduced the two of them, and soon after took my girlfriend back home. Maybe Mom was in a good mood that day, because I could have sworn when I came back home, she was going to be hiding in a closet and pounce on me at any moment, swinging a belt.
But Mom was in the kitchen when I walked back in the house, and only said, “You know you’re not supposed to have company over when I’m not here, especially a girl.” I told her I understood and it wouldn’t happen again, and we both agreed that meant it would happen again only I would know better not to get caught.
That was a sign, Mom was never going to be unreasonable about her son and his relationship with women.
Indifference is the way Mom has felt about most women I’ve introduced to her. There were a couple she really liked, but she never bothered getting close to them; never really gave me an opinion. Maybe it’s because she knew no matter what she thought about a girl, whether she loved her like another child or she loathed them, all that mattered was how I felt about them. Mom also knew I liked a lot of girls, I was just like Father in that way, so Mom’s way of curbing my appetite was simply by not acknowledging it. Girls were never a popular topic between her and I. Sometimes, when I got excited about a new girl, she would just roll her eyes, entertain what I had to say, and reply with nothing more than something like this: “Well, that’s good. How is the rest of your day?”
But these days, Mom’s attitude has started to change. I didn’t notice it at first, but it was Sister who brought it to my attention. There was a new girl, earlier this year, someone I was really excited about and wanted to tell Mom about, but as Sister and I have done in the past, we ran things by each other first. Sister is great for a gauge on what Mom really thinks of me. If Mom says she’s worried about me, I can call up Sister and ask how worried is Mom for real. If Sister says Mom hasn’t even talked about whatever is worrying her, I know it’s not as serious as if she did.
I told Sister about the new girl, she was happy for me. But when I asked her if I should tell Mom, she advised me not to. “She’s starting to get attached to these girls you bring up,” Sister said. “You should just wait to see where it goes.”
I haven’t brought a woman I was seeing around Mom since 2007. And that was my ex who was moving from the Bay to NYC to live with me. Oh, and there was another girl, who I dated for a summer in New York and was living back in California. She was my date for a wedding during the holiday season, and before we drove to where the wedding was taking place, she stopped by. Mom met her and liking her immediately. It was seriously only a 15-minute, informal meet-and-greet. Next thing I know, Mom is asking me what my plans with her are.
Oh, Mom. I should’ve saw the signs back then, that was 2009.
Ever since then, Mom has not met one woman I’ve dated. She’s only heard about them through word-of-mouth, my mouth.
The way it works is first they are a friend. If Mom calls and I’m with the girl, and she asks me what I’m doing I say, “I’m hanging out with my friend.” In our Mom and Son language, she knows it’s a woman because all my male friends get names.
The more I am around this friend when Mom calls, the more curious she gets. Until one day, Mom will call when I’m not doing anything, and I’m lampin’ in the apartment. We’ll talk about things like work and family but she will eventually ask, “So who is this friend you’ve been hanging out with when I call?” If I’m serious about her, the friend gets a name. When the friend gets a name, that’s when Mom focuses in on my goings on with this friend. She’ll periodically ask for an update, and, if I’ve been hanging out with this friend long enough, things like this happen:
**cell phone rings**
Me to Friend: It’s my Mom, hold on.
Me to Mom: Hi, Mom.
Mom to Me: Hi, honey. What are you doing right now?
Me to Mom: Oh I’m hanging out with **insert name of Friend here**
Mom to Me: Oh okay, tell her I said, ‘Hi.’
**hangs up cell**
I don’t really hang up on Mom. You all must think I’m crazy. Of course I do as I’m told, but it’s that moment when I know Mom is all in. She’s not being polite like she was when she came home and found me sitting on the couch with my high school sweetheart. She’s extending a distant hand shake and saying, in her own way, “It’s nice to meet you, I hope we one day get to meet.”
To the women, Mom is Ms. Rita. That Ms. is important because Ms. Rita is a stickler for manners so I have to prepare any girl I take seriously for the day they meet her.
But that day isn’t coming anytime soon and lately, it’s concerned Ms. Rita. Years ago, when she thought I was girl crazy, she shrugged off my behavior as “boys being boys.” But now her boy is a man, 31-years-old, and yes I’ve slowed down tremendously without being told to (more on why and how in other posts to come), but the funny thing about slowing down is, no one is necessarily going to do the same for you.
The story of my life for the past couple of years has been this: I meet a girl I like, and then I don’t like her anymore.
Or like this: I meet a girl I like, and then she doesn’t like me anymore.
Either way it ends, it ends, and Mom has heard both versions so many times, it is starting to wear on her. She’s starting to get concerned, and she told me as much the other day.
We were having a conversation about my finances, something I’m trying very hard to work on. And she was encouraging me to do things like sacrifice and budget, but near the end she said, “I also want you to find someone who will help you. Not help you financially, but someone who will support you when it gets difficult, because it will be difficult before it’s easy. You need someone who has your back.”
Some of you will read that and think it’s code for “I want grandkids.” But that couldn’t be further from the truth. With the addition of my niece in our family, Mom is still somewhat adjusting to being called “Grandma,” so on that front, we’re fine. This also isn’t about me or her getting older or wiser. This is about Mom wanting to see me more than happy, but fulfilled, and the difference between those two states of being are canyon-wide.
For so many years, Mom kept the longest of leashes on me. She’s been remarkably patient with me in ways only a mother can be. When it comes to my relationship with women, she has let me find my way, and for that, I can only thank her. But nowadays, I am beginning to think for all the patience she’s had with me, I owe her an honest effort to get serious about fulfillment.
Things never worked out the way I thought they would with the girl I told my sister about, which, as you can imagine, sucked. I was hurt in a way I hadn’t been for a long time because I loved this woman who was now telling me that though she loved me too, she wouldn’t continue doing so in the form of a relationship.
During that time, my mother and I spoke as we regularly do, and she could tell I was going through something, but I didn’t want to divulge about this girl I cared about whose time in my life burned bright but was brief. And of course it was, at times, difficult to talk to Mom about other things when all I really wanted to do was not talk at all and put up a front like I was fine when I wasn’t. But I’m glad I resisted the urge to tell Mom about this woman, because unlike the women before her, whose stars shined for only a moment only before they dimmed, there was only one person who had to deal with the disappointment of another relationship gone awry, and I’m glad that person wasn’t Mom.