It’s hard enough to be in this position. Your well-meaning comments make it that much more difficult
So you noticed I have a son. He seems to be of marriageable age.
You’re correct. He’s smart, funny, kind, tall, and good looking. Plus, if I may say so myself, he comes from a nice family.
So, as a kind neighbor/friend/acquaintance/shadchan, you have the perfect girl to suggest.
And I, mother of the boy, turn you down, with a, “He’s not in shidduchim at the moment, we’re not listening.”
And you, the kind friend/neighbor/acquaintance/shadchan just don’t understand.
You accuse me of being too picky.
You accuse me of fanning the flames of the shidduch crisis.
You point a finger at me and tell me I shouldn’t leave him too long.
You share wise words, and truly, I know they’re coming from a good place.
But. If you only knew how each name twists in me like a knife. If you only knew how the tears, never too far from the surface, threaten to spill over with every well-meaning suggestion.
Because, dear friend, my son is really, truly, not in shidduchim at the moment. Because, dear neighbor, my son has emotional baggage to sort through before he can move on in life. And just because he seems eligible on the surface doesn’t mean he isn’t carrying so much pain and frustration around with him, that at times, every day is a battle.
He tries. He’s working hard. He really does want to move on with his life. It hurts him, too, to see how, one by one, his friends move on, build homes of their own, while he stays behind, in his lonely apartment, struggling through his daily challenges.
And I, mother of this boy, struggle too. Do you know the pain of watching a child in pain? Do you know the burden of the thousands of dollars of therapy costs? And yes, the worry what if he never gets there?
You see, dear well-meaning friend, emotional health is more complex than physical health. There is no quick pill that instantly cures. No one-size-fits-all diagnosis. We have up days, and we have down days. Sometimes we have many ups and downs all in one day.
And then, at the end of a gut-wrenching day, when I feel so wrung out I wonder how I’m going to keep functioning, you call with yet another shidduch suggestion.
Kind, great family.
Trying to keep my emotions in check, and my voice normal, I say, “Sorry, I’m not listening now.”
And the accusations come rolling in.
What do you want me to do? Sure, I can go ahead and let them meet. My son makes a fine impression. They might even get engaged. Maybe they’ll make it to the chuppah.
And then what??
Where will you be, a few months down the line, when it all comes crashing down? Who will take the blame that you will no doubt assign?
Me. The mother of the boy.
“They had no business letting him get married. How could they ruin an innocent girl’s life?”
They are 100 percent correct. Which is why my seemingly very eligible son is not in shidduchim at the moment.
Please, next time, when I tell you with a smile, “We’re not listening to names now, he’s not in shidduchim,” won’t you allow me some dignity? It’s hard enough to be in this position. Your well-meaning comments make it that much more difficult.
As much as you want to see him married, I want it even more. My well-worn Tehillim can attest to that, as can my pillow. But before I see him married, I want to make sure he’s healthy. I want him to be happily married, and I want his wife to be happy, too.
My son is a wonderful boy. He’s sensitive and kind and smart. His life experiences are molding him into an exceptional young man. He’s gaining much maturity through the work he’s doing. And when the time is right, he’ll be an excellent husband. I await that day longingly.
I can’t wait to celebrate it with you.
But, until then, please allow me the space I need to enable him to get there.
Mother of The Boy
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 669)