Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Monster in law.

There are few things I hate more than dentists and cockroaches. Linda Blair in The Exorcist ranks high as well but coming in closely in second place would definitely be meeting my boyfriend’s parents.

Guys think they have it hard when it comes to meeting their girlfriends’ parents, especially when daddy owns an impressive collection of firearms. But have you ever thought how difficult it is for us girls? We have to impress your MOTHER. The woman who spent 18 hours in labour to bring you into this world and changed your sheets discreetly when you had your first wet dream. I don’t care how nice your mother is because behind her smile when she greets me at the door is the thought that, “She is not good enough for my son.” Ok maybe I generalize. But why is it that I’ve never had the most pleasant of experiences when it comes to boyfriends and their mothers?

Alex (SO obviously not his real name…as it will be with the others to follow)
Alex was my first boyfriend when I was 17. Yes, I was a late bloomer but that’s another blog altogether. To put it in a nutshell, it was short-lived romance and therefore I never got to meet his mother. Blessing in disguise perhaps.


Jacob and I had a rather intense albeit confusing relationship. A neither here nor there thing but we always knew we were ‘together’. I never met his mother neither but unlike Alex who hardly spoke of his parents, Jacob was fond of his mum. He would tell me what his mother liked, what she did during her free time and what kind of gifts his dad bought for her. Again, I never had the chance of meeting her. I always wondered if she would have liked me. I asked Jacob this once and diplomatically he answered, “She just wants me happy.” Okaaay. And then he mentioned how it was vital that his mother had a daughter-in-law who could bake.

I’ll let you guess where that relationship went.

We went out for five years. We got along great and everything was peachy keen.Minor glitch: Mummy dearest. I had snagged the dream loyal and steadfast boyfriend who made me laugh but, unfortunately, was still dangling from some annoying apron strings. When I first met his mum, I was still his ‘friend from college’ and mum was more than welcoming. A group of us would stay over his house for the weekend (his hometown was a couple of hours away from college so it was a nice getaway now and then) and his parents always played the gracious hosts. His dad was exceptionally nice and I always enjoyed having a chat with him. Everything was fine. Until we started officially dating. That’s when the ‘glaring’ started. I kid you not, the moment the mother started to suspect I was dating her darling boy, she started giving me the eye every time we met. I would be watching TV and I could feel her eyes burning a hole in my head. I wasn’t imagining this because his cousins told me that this was typical behaviour of their aunt. “Chris is her precious baby, you should realize that by now. No one will be good enough for him…You’ve got quite a task before you,” his cousin Lisa confided. No kidding, I thought silently. There was one time when his mum picked us up from the train station and as we were driving back to his home, his mum started stroking his head and said, “Study hard in college, ok son? Girlfriends can wait. Studies first.” And there I was in the backseat trying not to gag. I get the freakin’ point, lady. Things just got more irritating by the day. If we were studying in my apartment, he’d lie to her on the phone and say he was with some other ‘friends’. He would never say he was having lunch/dinner with me. And it took the longest time for him to tell his mum I was his girlfriend. We hardly argued but when we did, it was usually because of his mum. Things didn’t work out in the end but we’re still good friends. I loved him but probably not enough to spend the rest of my life feeling like I was never good enough for his mother.

Ok so his name wasn’t really Elmer but that’s not the point. I had it really bad for Elmer. I had boyfriends before but this time, I had fallen hard and fast. In the first year, we had the best time and my family loved him. The only thing missing from the equation was that I had yet to meet his family. It bothered me a little that he kept me a secret from his family. Was I so deformed that he couldn’t bring me to meet his parents? He finally did. His dad- as most dads are- was amiable and made me feel at ease. The real hurdle was his mother. I knew if I could score here, everything would be okay. Turned out his mother was nothing like Chris’ but that’s not to say she was a walk in the park. She was a nice enough lady but I also knew she was a very private person. A smile here, a friendly word there and she would be on her way. I was never sure what she thought about me. She never went out of her way to be nice to me but she was never unfriendly either. In some ways, this was a species of mother I had never encountered before and posed quite a challenge. All seemed ok until Elmer shed some light on her thoughts. During one of their conversations, she mentioned that I was a ‘nice girl’ (yeah like nice socks, nice plant…) but he should be careful seeing that I was Kadazan, which meant I would have the tendency to pressure a man into marrying me as quickly as possible.

Not only was this the most racist bullshit I’ve heard but I nearly burst out laughing at her cockiness of me wanting to corner her darling son into marriage! I was only 24 at that time and no where near ready for marriage.

I became wary from that point on and kept my guard up. I was insulted. Long story short, Elmer and I had a painful break-up (well it was for me anyway) three years later. It got me wondering: What is it about me and boyfriends’ mothers? I’m a decent girl, with perfectly good hygiene and no criminal record. I say please and thank you, and although I can’t bake, I’ve got a great sense of humour. My parents ensured I grew up well-educated and I’m financially independent. Why am I made to feel like a burden or a liability by my boyfriends’ mothers? Perhaps they’ve forgotten that some time ago, they weren’t good enough for someone’s son as well.

"I can't make you love me, if you don't.
You can't make your heart feel something it won't."
-I Can't Make You Love Me. I can't recall who sang this though.

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