My ambivalence peeking through

This morning I woke up suddenly from a dream that was so real that I kept thinking about it all morning.  In the dream, I met someone with the power to grant one wish for me.  I was about to tell her that I wanted to have enough money be able to buy an apartment for each of my children and then just before I responded, realized she had overheard dd17 mentioning to me that she’d like to get married young.  At that point I smacked my forehead head in dismay when I realized the person was going to grant dd a wish she didn’t know she’d made and then woke up.  

Your dreams reflect your thoughts during the day, and I think this was part of my dream because: a) we’ve been thinking about buying a house in the insanely expensive real estate market that is the Israeli reality and I’ve been feeling concern about how my kids will be able to do the same once they’re married, and b) yesterday a woman who used to be my neighbor called to let me know her 19 year old son is engaged.

Other friends have had kids getting engaged but so far all of them have been just a step ahead of me in their stage of life so while some of these things felt close, I could keep telling myself my kids are too young. Then I spoke to my neighbor who just turned 38.  I told her she didn’t seem old enough to be a mother-in-law; I met her when she was one month pregnant with this son and haven’t seen her since she was a very young mother of three children.  She told me she doesn’t feel like she’s old enough either, and  I responded that I’m very happy my oldest is only 20 and I don’t have to think about this yet!  She said she would have preferred if her son could have waited another couple of years to begin dating.  But she’s chassidish and said since all the young men begin dating when they turn 19, it would have reflected badly on her son if he hadn’t started as well.

Then at lunch time, dh got a call from an old friend.  The last time I saw this man, he was single young man in his mid twenties who was a guest at our Shabbos table!  He got married not long after that so he must be in his mid forties by now.  He had seen my son at a wedding recently and wanted to know if he was dating.  I’ve had a few people approach me about ds20 but I’ve told them he’s not interested at this point (the same thing I’ve said when asked about dd19 and dd17).

I don’t know why this call unsettled me more than other people who have approached us.  Maybe because I was overhearing dh’s call and I processed it differently; maybe because of the effort this person clearly made to seek us out.  Part of it was if it was a year from now this would be a serious suggestion and I’d need to be able to deal with it.  As I sat there I felt the need to mentally prepare for this stage of life, to have people calling me and needing to take it seriously and ask the right questions and do the right research.

The main part of it was because I felt intimidated to hear a suggestion like this.  The family is related to to some very well-known and well-respected role models in the Jewish world. Edited to add – this situation brings up some areas of difference between my beliefs and the mainstream charedi position.  As a result,   I’m apprehensive of being looked down on as not religious enough.

This post was supposed to be about something else, but I’ve often found I start off writing about one thing and something different comes out.  My conscious mind doesn’t have an issue with this at all – I trust that whoever each of my children marries will be a good person, I’m pretty accepting of who I am at this point in my life and believe that people can be different but still respect others  – but my subtle discomfort revealed that I need to do some more work on letting go of what others think of me so that I’ll be fully ready to embrace this stage of life when we get to it.  In the meantime I’m still grateful that I don’t have to deal with this yet!


8 thoughts on “My ambivalence peeking through

  1. Oh my gosh, HUGS!!! Take a deep breath, and remind yourself who REALLY makes shidduchim in t his world.

    My bracha for you is that everything should come at the right time, in the right place, be clear and revealed – and that all your children find their bashert to build a bayis of Torah and mitzvot.

  2. Is it really true that your children are not interested or is it that you are not interested because you are not wanting to take the next lifecycle step? It is such a chaval when I meet people that hold their kids back from dating because the parents are not ready. And it is a further chaval when suggestions come up that are maatim and the parents push them off.

    1. We talk about these things very openly and they aren’t ready – you noticed the ages, didn’t you? I’m not going to rush them into something that they’re not ready for just because a good suggestion came up; I don’t feel desperate and neither should they. When it’s meant to be, it will be.

      I’ve never held my kids back from anything just because it was uncomfortable for me – my philosophy is my job is to give them roots and wings, and it’s a gradual process in letting them use their wings. It happens over a period of years, not all of a sudden.

  3. It can be a stressful stage, but also an exciting and joyful one :) When it happens, G-D willing, you will be ready, similar to how we might not feel ready to have a baby yet, but once it happens, we realize that we are! I love being a mother in law, love seeing my daughter so happy at this stage in her life and I am sure you will love it too.

    1. Gilla, it’s not my kids getting married that is stressful to think about; it’s the charedi aspect of negotiating this that I’ve only briefly referenced that is a stress for me. That’s a huge topic and I’m not opening it up because there’s so much charedi bashing online. That’s not where I’m coming from but rather than be lumped together with those people I’ve chosen to not write about this. Without detailing this people may think I’m much less secure than I actually am since I’m not sharing about the cultural realities I’m uncomfortable with that I have to navigate.

  4. I think I can understand your feelings, in part. My step-daughter’s engagement and wedding this summer was one of the more stressful experiences in my life. It came upon me unprepared, demanding that I deal with feelings and technical challenges that I was not expecting . Some of those issues were quite similar to those you’ve mentioned. I bless you with great Hatzlachah as you proceed along this new path in the right time.

    1. Thank you, Sharon! As prepared as we try to be, there’s always going to be something new to stretch us. The wedding season is beautiful but it’s not easy and it brings up a lot of emotions for everyone.

  5. Hi Avivah,
    Thanks for sharing your feelings about this. Shidduchim can bring up a lot of vulnerability and fears of being judged. It’s a pretty intense time, comparing and discussing people’s family and background and character… a whole mixed pot of feelings.
    My parents are divorced. When I was in Shidduchim a Shadchan told me she had lots of boys, but no one would go out with a girl from a divorced home. Nothing for me to do about that, and I married my awesome husband a short while later. His parents initially refused the shidduch because of my divorced parents. Also, my husband’s Rosh Yeshiva told him not to consider a girl from a divorced home, as her example for Shalom Bayis is faulty. Oh, well. 😉 Hashem took care of that!

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