“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?




8 thoughts on “Daydream

  1. Ha. Ive been in that position many times.
    When i was 24, and a mother of 20-yr-old was “reassuring me” that it’s all up to G-d….i said, “oh yeah? Talk to me when your daughter is 24.” “Chalilah!!!!”
    Enough said.

  2. Great post as usual. No witty comments here, I married my husband at 20, but I wouldn’t have thought myself unfortunate if I hadn’t, I just would have been dying of loneliness.

  3. wanna talk to my mother and convince her my life’s not over cuz i’m single and almost 22 -gasp!-? Cuz she won’t listen to me 🙂

  4. it’s just the mothers feeling guilty and powerless and worrying that it’s a reflection on them. daughters learning to divorce themselves from maternal insecurity is a rite of passage. my mother wasn’t too bad when i was single, knowing full well that i was a niche market and that someone would probably materialize. she did have her moments of “what’s wrong with you” but knew the answer and knew enough not to push. so i never got too bitter or resentful. the suitor showed up, the parents and i were all in agreement that he was definitely the right one (my mother said she loves how he handles me), and now the saga is over for everyone involved. it just took awhile (there was one close call over the years)- i’m a few years older than bad4. from this angle, i don’t regret having had most of my twenties to myself. and unpregnant. yeah, that is uncomfortable. i’m not devastated that i have fewer than 20 childbearing years.

    N.B.- i have a younger sibling who married way before i did. i think people knew enough not to bother me, as i got only ONE IYHBY during the entire engagement/marriage process. maybe they just thought i was weird.

    in summary, if the mothers calmed down and got over themselves, everyone would feel better and more encouraged. i suspect that the more of us who marry (relatively) late there are, the better equipped we will be to deal with it in the next generation. one relative of mine married a HS sweetheart, and so did two of her kids. the one kid who had to (nebach) shidduch-date and married at 24 was seen as an anomaly and no one knew how to handle it.

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