My parents have never been interested in the men I date. When I was in my 20s and single, they never asked about boyfriends, nights out or whether I received flowers on Valentine’s Day.
If I brought someone home, they looked down their noses, waiting to find something wrong. I can’t tell you why and I wish I knew, but it’s a pattern they’ve stuck throughout the past four decades.
The last time my parents took an interest in a boyfriend was Ted, the first guy I dated in college. Mom and I sat for lunch one day at their favorite local diner and she asked about what it would be like if we got married one day. I broke up with Ted, a supremely nice guy, at the end of sophomore year because I just wasn’t ready for forever.
John was next and he was my first heart-pounding love. Like magnets, we chased each other around campus and home for school breaks. For the holidays, my parents bought him a key flashlight to help him see his iced-over car lock on dark winter nights. When I wanted to invite him home for the Passover seder, they said an adamant NO.
They tried to mask their dislike as grounded in the fact that he was not Jewish – but when my brother took up with a high school sweetheart, also outside our tribe, they were enthralled. She is now my sister-in-law and probably my favorite family member – but let’s just say my parents never batted an eye over that pairing.
It came as no surprise, so many years later when I met Avy, that they were not only uninterested – they were downright opposed. This time, it was because he was Orthodox.
And when we married, they had complaints all the way down the aisle. “What do you mean no mixed dancing?” “Why are you wearing a hat over your hair?” “You’re pregnant again? Don’t you want to let Asher be the baby a while longer?” I was already pregnant, and on purpose!!!!
Nothing I did satisfied them so I did everything to try to satisfy myself. And though it took me 37 years, I finally succeeded.
So now I’m dating Dan and at the best I’ve ever been in every part of my life – and it’s the same old tune. I keep telling myself I don’t need their approval and I shouldn’t even want it. But old habits die hard.
When I changed my Facebook status to in a relationship, Dad called immediately, all chatty-happy. He called again later that same day to invite me to breakfast.
And while Mom sat beside him and they were perky and interested in every part of my life, the two times I mentioned his name, they blank-stared. Nothing. Nada.
It’s become a joke between us, this blatant dysfunction. And still I wonder – what’s behind it all? Seriously, Mom and Dad. Isn’t it time to just let the past go?