An actual exchange of text messages with my son over Thanksgiving weekend:
Dad wants to know if I’m engaged.
You’re surprised? (Rejected response: Well, ARE you?)
No. But I thought you’d find it amusing.
Still shaking my head.
An online chat session with my son’s aunt (his dad’s sister) a few days later:
(He and his girlfriend) were at her parents’ for Thanksgiving – as far as I know things are going OK with them. They’ll be here over Christmas.
I was 19 when I got married (the first time – yes, I think that part’s relevant). I was a parent at 20, and I wasn’t a college graduate till I was 23. At the time, I thought I was quite mature and advanced.
It looks a whole lot different when your kid is the 23-year-old. The main thing we have in common at that age is having finished college.
Chris and his girlfriend Jes have been seeing each other for over a year, but not on anything close to a daily basis until this summer; they were living several hundred miles apart during his senior year. Then they lived in very close quarters until he found his own apartment, and now they live around the corner from each other.
Even though I feel that my son and I have a pretty close relationship, there are many things he doesn’t tell me, and much of that is totally appropriate. He hasn’t ever articulated his feelings about his girlfriend to me – but then again, he may think I should be able to figure them out based on the facts of their relationship (and because he sometimes thinks it shouldn’t be necessary to explain himself). He has spent some time with her family, and she’s about to spend some time with his – and I’m pretty sure that geography is the only reason that hasn’t happened sooner. And he did go to her sister’s wedding with her this past summer, and that can be a dicey thing to do unless your relationship is solid.
But engaged?! His father does have a tendency to accelerate every relationship – his own and anyone else’s – into serious territory, and he’s married anyone he was ever involved with. (I could snipe about that more if I hadn’t ended up basically doing the same thing, though.) Still, everything I know about Chris makes me feel that marriage isn’t exactly on his radar at this point. I think he’s happy in a steady relationship, but I don’t get the sense he’s in hurry to make it anything else. And I’m quite sure his feelings about eventually having kids remain, at best, ambivalent (and being in NO HURRY to become a grandmother, I remain very grateful for that). Since I haven’t met Jes yet, I don’t have a sense of her feelings on the subject – but knowing my side of the family, someone may well bring up the question during Christmas.
However, they’re both in their twenties, and if they’re happy with the way things are between them, I don’t see any compelling reason to change that sooner, as opposed to later. Of course, I’m looking at it from the advanced perch of (almost) my mid-forties, and they just seem young for marriage from here. Heck, they’ve only lived in the same city for six months! And while in many ways my son is mature for his age, and I think he’s grown up pretty well, I just can’t see him as husband material for another few years yet.
But come to think of it, he didn’t actually tell me how he answered his dad, and he hasn’t mentioned anything about it since. I’d like to think that Chris wouldn’t need to be queried by his parents about whether he was planning to get married – that he’d actually pick up the phone to call and tell us of his own volition – but perhaps I’ll be surprised on Christmas Eve, which is when I’m actually meeting Jes for the first time.
Maybe I’m just not in a rush to be mother of the groom.