Tomorrow I’m going to meet my daughter’s new boyfriend for the first time. He’s not a “new” boyfriend, really. They’ve been together for a year, but I’ve not laid eyes on the man, so he’s new to me. Gretchen says he’s excited about meeting me. Hmmm. Does that mean he’s looking forward to the pleasure of my company, or is he making a meal of his fingernails? I would expect that he’s a bit nervous about it. And it might surprise him to know that I am, too. After all, this person is a very important part of my daughter’s life, so I want him to become a part of my life, too.
Mind you, this isn’t an audition or an interview. I won’t be giving him a thumbs up or down for the position of Gretchen’s BF. That was Gretchen’s call. And yet, the whole time we’re together, there will be an elephant in the room. It’s called, meeting-the-parent’s-approval. Try as we might to downplay it, we all know it’s there. And, truth be told, it's always there with the parents of our significant others. Whether it’s the first day you meet them, or decades have passed, parents are ever vigilant, looking out for their babies. It’s in our parental DNA. There’s no fighting it, so you might as well accept it. In other words, try not to piss us off. If you do, there will be hell to pay.
The problem, of course, is that you don’t know what might be the parent’s hot button until after you’ve pushed it. Although I doubt that my daughter’s BF reads my blog, he may after today, because I’m going to tell him what it is for me.
Yo! I’m talkin’ to you, BF of my one and only daughter! This is inside information that I have never shared with any of Gretchen’s past BFs, so take it to heart.
There are many things you could do to irritate me, such as: quote Bible verses at me, pour Texas Pete all over everything you eat, badmouth my dog, fondle Gretchen in my presence, or beat me at Scrabble... to name a few. But none of those are deal-breakers. And trust me, I won’t be impressed if you agree with everything I say, are overly helpful around the house, and treat me like the Queen Mother. Don’t try to schmooze me because I am unschmoozeable. (Something I learned as a kid from June Cleaver, who was way too smart to be schmoozed by Eddie Haskell.)
What matters the most to this mama is nothing that you can control. It’s the way my daughter is when she is with you. Now, I’m not just talking about the way she may defer to you or laugh at your jokes. It’s more than that, and it takes more than a few days to see how it plays out. Unlike some mothers, I’m not overly concerned about Gretchen finding someone who will protect her. She’s already had her heart broken deeply in her life and proven that she can survive. Nor am I looking for a good provider. No daughter of mine needs a man to provide for her. I’m not even one of those parents who says, “I just want you to be with someone who makes you happy”, because I don’t think anyone else is responsible for my daughter’s happiness. (Nor do I think that being happy is the goal for our lives.)
What I want the most for my daughter (and anyone I love, for that matter) is that she find wholeness in her life and become the person God created her to be. She will always be growing and becoming Gretchen; it’s a life-long journey. And, along the way, God will send people to accompany her. I was blessed to be the first, but I know I won’t be the last.
More than anything else, I hope that any person who becomes a significant part of Gretchen’s life will help her grow to become her true self. I don’t expect you to do it for her; I expect you to be working toward your own place of wholeness. What I hope is that you won’t stand in her way, smother or stifle her. Instead, cheer her on. Listen to her. Hold her when she cries. When necessary, tell her the hard truth she may not want to hear. Remind her that she is loved for no other reason than because she is Gretchen. Celebrate the person she is becoming. And love yourself enough to expect the same from her.
That’s what I want for my daughter and the man she loves. I don’t think it’s expecting too much, and yet I know it’s not easy to find. No, I won’t be able to see it in one weekend. But I pray it’s something I’ll have the joy of seeing in my lifetime.