“You know that awkward feeling you get when a woman is going on about the shidduch travails of her 21-year-old daughter, and you realize that you probably shouldn’t mention that you’re 25?”
Thus questioned a friend, caught in a waiting room with a distressed mother.
“Yes,” I agreed. And immediately my mind drifted into snarky mode, and I started imagining what I might say in that situation, if I had been there, and if I wasn’t a sweet, mild-mannered aidel maidel.
I would lean forward, nodding gravely. I would agree that it’s very difficult for a girl to get a date. “And it only gets worse,” I’d assure her. “When I was 22, they started setting me up with all rejects–the guys who’d already been rejected by every girl in the tri-state area, and for good reason. It’s a boy’s world and a young girl’s world. Unless an older girl has connections, she can’t get a date with anyone less than neurotic.”
Or maybe I could take a more comforting tack. “It’s not so bad,” I could tell her. “I’m friends with many normal, beautiful, successful, well-adjusted women who are–” [lower my voice] “Thirty or even older who have great lives, even without husbands. They live together in crowded apartments and talk about dating at least once a day, but I don’t think too many of them cry themselves to sleep at night. Not too many. And they have such great careers. They go on exciting vacations. They bike and run for tzedakah organizations to get out their frustration. Sometimes, I think my married friends are secretly jealous. Who wants to be pregnant anyway? It looks so uncomfortable.”
Or I could be holy: “Maybe it’s just not meant to be. Not everyone has the same tafkid in life, you know. Maybe Hashem is saving her for something grander than marriage.”
Or I could…
My mind wanders, imagining the most obnoxious ways to comfort a woman who thinks single and 21 is a tragedy. But of course I could never say it. After all, she really believes it.
So, what do you tell someone who thinks her daughter is suffering at 21? What can you tell someone to convince them that life is not over if you’re still single at 23?