We were out to dinner the other night with some close friends of ours. They have three children, and one of them, their oldest son, recently got engaged to be married. The young woman is someone the son -- I'll call him Taylor -- has known since first grade, and they've been going out together since high school.
I've also known Taylor since he was in first grade, maybe even before that, although I've only met his fiancee a couple of times. Taylor has always been a popular kid with lots of friends. He wasn't a brilliant student; but he went to college and now has a good job, though it's not an easy one and he does work odd hours. His fiancee is more quiet. She has a couple of close friends, but not a wide network of friends. And while she is very pretty, she doesn't open up to other people very easily.
The problem is that she hasn't opened up very much to Taylor's mother. I kind of knew it already; but that's what most of our dinner conversation was about. The girl tends to be kind of formal in social situations; she rarely contributes much to a conversation; and for whatever reason she and Taylor's mother have never quite made a good connection. They've never had a heart-to-heart. If anything, the mother and the fiancee seem a little wary of each other.
The girl is perhaps overly protective of Taylor, almost as though she's sometimes ordering him around. Taylor is very solicitous of her. She always seems to get her way. And yet, when the two of them are off in another room, or watching TV together, they seem very close. They talk in whispers; they laugh; they cuddle. They are obviously very much in love, and seem very well suited to each other.
Last year the young couple moved away from home, and now they live several hundred miles away. Too far to simply drive over for the weekend. So the latest? Taylor's mother wants to take a quick flight to spend a long weekend visiting them. Her husband wouldn't go; he's still working; and besides, the mother wanted to make this a special trip of her own.
All this all seemed fine, until Taylor's mother actually made her plane reservations. Then she heard from her son. Maybe it wasn't such as good idea to visit after all, he told her.
Taylor and his fiancee were busy at work, he explained, and they couldn't afford to take any extra days off. They wanted to make a visit home at some point; and then they would need vacation time for their honeymoon; and they were carefully saving up their vacation days. Also, they were busy looking for a new apartment, since their year-long lease is running out. What would Taylor's mother do if she came for three days, and both the kids were working, or looking at apartments?
Taylor's mother told us she's sure this sudden change of mind has come from the fiancee, and while she's trying to understand the situation -- and still trying to decide whether or not to make the trip -- it hasn't given her any more warm and fuzzy feelings about her son's fiancee
Don't get me wrong. The title overstates the situation. Taylor's mom likes the girl okay, and she does think she's a good match for her son. But this would be the first of her children to get married; and maybe she thinks he's a little young to take this step anyway. She definitely feels more like she's losing a son rather than gaining a daughter-in-law.
Does this situation sound familiar to anyone? Her husband did voice the opinion that she should make the trip; he offered to go with her if it would make her more comfortable, but she said no, she wanted this for herself. And the unspoken question was: why should the girl be able to prevent the mother from visiting her son, or even make her feel awkward about it? What I thought, but did not say, was: for crying out loud, couldn't the kid take one day off to please his poor mom?
But then, I'm not a mom, so I don't know about these things. I thought the problems with our kids ended the day they went off to college! But that is obviously not true, as will be explained in Part II, upcoming sometime in March.