Untying the Knot

You’ve met the girl of your dreams. You want to spend the rest of your life with this girl. You want her to be the mother of your children. You want to grow old with her. You’ve made a few visits to local jewelers, and planned the proposal in your mind. But, before plunking down the green for the engagement ring, you have a little “sit-down” with your parents.

“Mom, Dad, I’ve made a big decision. I’m going to propose.” You hold your breath waiting for a reaction as they stare at you expressionless. You finally see the smile on your Father’s face. He stands up, comes toward you with arms out-stretched and chest puffed out. As he squeezes you tightly, he says, “Son, I’m so proud of you. She’s a wonderful girl. Is there anything I can do to help? Do you need help paying for the ring?” You pretend not to notice the tear in his eye.

Before telling your Father all about the ring you’ve had your eye on, you notice that your mother hasn’t moved. In fact, she seems to have fallen into a catatonic state. Your father attempts to play down the awkwardness. “Honey, isn’t it wonderful? Our first daughter-in-law! Honey?” And then to you, “She’s so happy that she’s speechless.” You wonder.

She actually doesn’t hear either one of you. Your mother is watching a movie in her mind. She’s watching you take your first unsteady steps as a one-year-old. She’s seeing you get on that big yellow bus on the first day of kindergarten. She smiles as she remembers your first home-run during your second season of Little League. She watches as you drive into the driveway with your Father after getting your driver’s license. Your first date was a biggie for her–she sat by the window waiting for you to come home for over an hour. A tear rolls down her cheek as she re-plays your high school graduation on the movie screen in her mind. Her baby boy…getting married? Not possible.

Some of you may need to be patient with your parents, guys. Not all parents will warm up to the idea of you getting married right away. It might be difficult to understand at this time in your life, but the last 20-some odd years has been nothing more than a blink to them. You couldn’t wait to grow up, move out, and start your own life; but to them, you will always be their baby. They’re not trying to hold you back; they just don’t want to push you away so quickly. They want to hold on as long as they can. Tying the knot with your dream-girl means untying, or at least loosening, other “knots” in your life: Parents, friends, siblings.

When the shock wears off, your parents will realize that this shift in priorities is exactly what they have wanted for you. Your ability to commit, your dedication to your fiancé-to-be, your maturity, your capacity to choose the perfect person to spend your life with; all of these things are a result, to some degree, of great parenting on their part. Reminding them of this may go a long way in softening the blow.

by Julie Seitz