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Single +1

Sarah Fowler

There are few things that I claim to actually understand about men. Truth be told, the older I get the more I discover that I don’t understand anything about men. I don’t understand the obsession with any and all things related to a ball, the thrill of getting up at 3 am to freeze to death in a deer stand while you shoot at some poor defenseless animal or the motivation behind the always popular “I’ll call ya” when you know good and dang well you’ll never hear from the S.O.B. again. I’ve spent 26 years trying to understand men, from those early days on the playground to my current relationship. For the most part, I’ve just given up. I’ve decided that men are just too different, too complex of a creature to understand and I’m better off if I just make him a sandwich, turn on the game and let that be that. But there’s one mystery that I just can’t seem to let go of. I simply do not understand the relationship between a man and his mother. Men that are normally strong, formidable human beings are reduced to needy, eager to please little boys the second Mommy is on scene. It drives me crazy and I just don’t get it. And for reasons beyond my understanding, it seems to get worse the older men get. Lately it seems that if I want to have a relationship with a man, I have to have a relationship with his mommy as well.

The new guy I’m seeing is a handsome, successful, well traveled 38 year old man. He’s never been married and doesn’t have children. He does, however, have two cats and a Mommy. Even though I’m deathly allergic to cats, I’m still not sure which one is worse. Being long distance, the majority of our communication is over the phone. We’re both incredibly close to our families and logically, they come up in conversation. I just didn’t realize how much we would be talking about them. We did the basic family run down on our first phone call: how many siblings, parents married or divorced, nieces and nephews blah blah and everything seemed to be normal. What he failed to mention in that conversation however, was that even though he lives an hour away from his mother, he is still very much attached to her apron strings. On his first visit to Columbus he had been in my apartment approximately five minutes when his mother called to make sure he had arrived in one piece. Hmm…although it raised a red flag, I brushed it off and decided she was just a concerned mother. Two days and six phone calls later, I had decided something else. Then in her super matriarchal power, she managed to track down my phone number and give me a friendly little ring. The conversation was nothing short of awkward and I had the ever growing feeling that I was being interviewed for a job I wasn’t sure I wanted. At the end of our phone call I told her that it was wonderful speaking with her and I looked forward to meeting her soon. Her voice took on an icy tone as she responded with “Yes, well, we’ll just see about that. Best of luck on all your endeavors, dear.” Um. What? When I mentioned it to John, (Yes, this one actually has a name. Shocking, I know) he laughed and responded with “Oh, that’s just Mama! Isn’t she something else?!” Yes. Yes she certainly is.

The rocky relationship between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law is infamous. There is a power struggle as the mother copes with the fact that another woman is now taking care of her baby and she’s left with nothing to do but sit back and watch. The new bride bends over backwards, not trying to please her new husband, but her new mother-in-law. There is an estrogen war raging with the man caught in the middle and it almost always ends with disastrous results. At least that was my experience. I met my now former mother-in-law moments after her son had just informed her that he had gotten a 19 year old girl pregnant, a girl that up until that very moment, she didn’t even know existed. That poor woman and I spent the next three years getting over the shock of that first meeting. I think at one point in time she called me a “Black Widow” and I’m pretty sure I returned the compliment with something equally flattering. The marriage between her son and I obviously wasn’t a fairy tale but our unhappiness was fueled by the fact that he would run to his mother every time we had an argument and my increasing insecurity that I would never live up to the woman he so clearly idolized. But then we got divorced. And a funny thing happened. Suddenly, this woman that I felt had waged her own personal war against me, someone who meddled in my marriage and offered her opinion on everything from our parenting skills to our finances to the color of our bath mat simply backed off. The tone of her voice softened and the judgement was gone. We had been separated nearly six months when she called me one day, out of the blue, just to ask how I was doing. The heavens opened up and the trumpets sounded as I did a double take at the caller ID on my phone in a state of shock. She sounded so genuine, so sincere and I realized that while I was in the middle of one relationship falling apart, I was unexpectedly forming another one. Ironically enough, it took a divorce for her to realize just how much I loved her son and for me to realize that the woman that I saw as competition, my “enemy” if you will, had been my greatest ally all along.

God knew what He was doing when He gave me a little girl. Our house is full of ribbons and bows, Barbies and baby dolls and an entire room full of pink. I know Prinny will be married one day and have a family of her own but whether she’s 5 or 25, she’ll always be my little girl, end of story. I can’t help but wonder if I would feel the same if I had a little boy. Would I be more protective, or less? You look at that sweet little man sitting in the backyard playing with his trucks and a pile of dirt and you have this overwhelming feeling that you want to protect him from ever being hurt. At five years old, that means a boo boo on his knee, at 25, that means a broken heart. As a Mom, how far do you go to protect your baby? And how far is too far? Does that mean driving behind the school bus on his first day of school just to make sure he’s OK? Or calling his new girlfriend and scaring the beejeesus out of her until she decides that no man is worth a crazy mother-in-law? As mothers, it’s our job to raise our children to be strong, independent, happy, healthy, productive members of society. If we trust that they chose the right college, the right career, the right apartment, shouldn’t we also trust that they chose the right person to marry?

I’ve heard that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he treats his mother. If that’s the case, this new guy is a freaking saint. His mother is ballsy, pushy and borderline obnoxious. (Hmm…Pot? Kettle?) And in return, he is kind, patient and loving. While I was admittedly a bit turned off by the woman, I’m increasingly appreciative of her behavior. His response to her actions have only further proved to me that he’s an amazing man. While I doubt that was her intent, I’m grateful for it. She has raised an amazing son; whether it’s because of her or in spite of, I have yet to find out but I’m beginning to think it’s the former. I certainly don’t claim to understand men, their mothers or their relationships but I’ve got a feeling that this relationship is definitely worth sticking around to find out.

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26 comments

  1. Single -3

    First of all, I can’t believe I have to explain this to you, of all people. (I’m not trying to give you a hard time, you just make yourself such an easy target,(probably on purpose). “Men and Their Mommies”. I don’t know really where to start on this topic. Ok, the womb, of course! The only time an entire life form is literally totally inside another life form of the opposite sex. Settle down now,, and this may even sound a little creepy but think about it. Imagine the relationship between a woman and her father, then consider the previous statements with added emphasis. It’s even his first breast on which he gets to “nurse on or suck on; and, so begins this attachment that might last years. Stop it now, these are just facts. So, disagree if you want, and I know you will on this Miss Single+1, but mothers tend to treat the boy babies differently than they do the girl babies from the “get go”. It’s just life. If you want to have a boy someday pay attention this fact. Then this “connection” manifests itself throughout the first phase of life and continues after he’s been weened and to hopefully a lesser degree for the next five (5) years, at least, of a boys’ life, arguably the most formative years of one’s personalities and one’s belief systems. The men have ALREADY lived with this woman sometimes 17-40 years.(Yes, I’m guessing at the age range a boy lives with his mother) BEFORE you become that twinkle in his eye. So, you don’t think that those things will affect what a man expects out of, or how he treats the woman who becomes the next most important woman in a that man’s life?? Then, it becomes very difficult thing for the man to understand why women EVEN put men in that spot. You know the spot. Where you force the man to make a choice (of whatever sort) between you and the mother. You want him to spread his wings and fly away except we aren’t birds. That kind of game, which some women play, is horse manure. The man cannot function under that kind of stress and unecessary PRESSURE placed upon us by both you and our mother. Women can be difficult enought to please as it is without adding this “competition for attention” between a man’s mother and his soul mate into the mix. Let the man do what he’s gotta do for his mother. Most of the time it’s “little things” anyway. If you don’t like it,, or you can’t HELP him with her, or you hate her guts so much you can’t be in the same zip code with her,,, then at least don’t turn it into a power struggle. It’s just not fair. A man should be able to have both his soul mate and his mother without flack from either one of you, till death do the parties concerned part.

  2. Sharon B

    From my POV, it’s simple. I am a mother of a “mature” (30+) bachelor. Simply put, if the woman can get your phone number, you can bet your patootie she has found this web site and read your little column. Where you have dated more than a dozen men this year. Where you admittedly are a 25 year old divorcee with a 5 year old child and no college education writing a “dating” (gossip) column.

    “…I looked forward to meeting her soon. Her voice took on an icy tone as she responded with “Yes, well, we’ll just see about that. Best of luck on all your endeavors, dear.” ”

    She does not expect to meet you. Her son has 13 years on you and found you on a dating website. You go through guys like toilet paper. She is just counting down the days until her son moves on from this little po-dunk Mississippi fling and finds himself a real mature lady.

    • Single -3

      Goes through guys like toilet paper?? Dated more than a dozen guys this year?? Wow Ms B. those are some strong words with maybe some assumptions in there, too. Do you feel this same way about the women your mature 30+ bachelor has dated?? Have you been trying to pick a wife for your son?? Have women he’s liked suddenly vanished after meeting you?? I hope you will one day like a woman just because your son likes her. Oh, he doesn’t pick good women? Isn’t he the one who will be living with her whether she is a college grad or not? Or will you be living with them too?? If so, then you get a vote. But, shouldn’t it really be his choice from which to gain his own experience with other women?? I bet your son goes through women like toilet paper doesn’t he?? Let him decide on the next one and you love her just because he does. He’s 30+ and should be able to pick a good one by now. No doubt you’ve trained him well. Try it. Your son will love you more for it.

      • Single -3

        Please remember as I’ve clearly stated on numerous occassions, my comments are my own personal opinions and in no way reflects the opinions of the Packet or their staff.. I do not work for the Packet and have no connection with their operation whatsoever. I’m just a guy who responds to Single +1 with a male perspective. You just got caught in the middle, Ms B. Or,, are you the mom this article is talking about???

  3. Sharon B

    You make alot of assumptions from a 3 sentence paragraph, -3. Drew is actually a serial monogamist, lol. He has had only 5 girlfriends in his life, all for 2 years or more. Each of them have been wonderful young ladies. But if her were to start seeing a much younger woman with such a checkered dating past, I would chalk it up to sowing his oats and not see it as his next LTR or wife to be.
    I do not write this column, I actually read it on recommendation of a friend to kill time in an airport to fly overseas. So I read all the columns in one sitting. And nearly every one is about a different guy the writer is dating or just broke up with. There are something like 30 articles. Even if only 1/2 were about a new suitor, that’s 15 gentlemen. It’s not a bad lifestyle to have if that is what you choose. I’m not judging her on it. Just pointing out that a mother sees this and doesn’t expect her son to be around for very long. Single +1 is a serial dater. It’s just her personality. She may be a sweet girl, honest, a great mother, well spoken and cute. But 13 years younger than the man in question, found on a dating site (after admittedly running out of eligible men in her town), divorced, teen mom, and a serial dater. The mother in question may not even know she’s being mean. Just flippant because she assumes it will be over soon.

    -3, are you the 38 year old in question? You seem to have strong feelings for +1…if you are not, maybe you can catch her on the rebound 😉

    • Single -3

      First of all Ms B., I am no where near the “38 year old in question” nor do I have “strong feelings for +1″. I’ve only met her once; and, while certainly cute, bright and confident, she is too young for me even by MY standards. But, somebody has to offer a “male response” to some of her perceptions; or, some of the incorrect ones might go “un-checked” and that would be just wrong. I’m also trying to decipher what assumptions I made since you think I “make a lot of assumptions from a 3 sentence paragraph”. I think you might be assuming each article is about a different man, when I wonder if she’s getting ideas from ‘Carey (sic) Bradshaw’s book’. Most of my reply to you was all questions. EXCEPT, I did assume your son would be able to ‘pick a good one by now’, and that you ‘no doubt have trained him well’, and that ‘your son would love you more for it’ [i.e. if you stayed out of his selection processes]. So, I agree those are probably assumptions. I must say, however, after avoiding my question of “are you THIS boy’s mother?”, your reply makes you sound more like you might just be this guy’s mother, except for you asking me if I’m the guy, which could just be you trying to find out if I’m your son. Thirteen (13) years difference is nothing these days. Ages are just numbers. 50 is the new 40; 40 is the new 30; and 30 is the new 20 and so on. Besides it seems to me I see a lot more women alone in their golden years than I do men. So, I wonder if we’ve been doing this age thing right anyway. I say let the man marry as young a woman as he can, then the odds are better it won’t be him spending his golden years alone, “assuming” they made it that long, which I think the roulette wheel would probably have better odds these days.

  4. Sharon B

    I actually thought you were making a joke about my being the mother in the column and responded with a quip of my own about you being the boyfriend.
    Enough of this, I was just trying to tell the girl not to take it personally if the mother was cold to her. I am off to enjoy my vacation.

  5. Single -3

    I’m sorry Ms B. I never perceived your comments as “trying to tell the girl not to take it personally if the mother was cold to her”.. My mistake. Hope you have a good vacation.

  6. BondeMommy

    Well I have to personally say I know all too well what the article is about, however, my husband now agrees with me about his mother and this has gotten better with age!!! Maybe some men start using their heads when they mature more!

    • Single -3

      Sure men mature too, believe it or not. But, it’s not about the “present” as far as the man is thinking about with his mother. Sometimes women are so near sighted. So, to all you ladies having problems with your man’s mama, let me say it’s all about: do you want to live with a man later in life who feels guilty after his mother is gone? Or, would you rather live with a man who knows, after his mother is gone, that he did everything he could for her. Because chances are she will be gone from this life before you; but, the choice is yours for right now to accept her or complain about her to him constantly. Do what’s right for the long run on this, because what ever it is in the grand scheme of things that’s causing problems, it’s probably really no big deal…

  7. Ashlee

    If he is 38 and still a “mama’s boy” this is not going to change. People don’t change, circumstances do. Live with her or with out both.
    Good luck!

    • Mike Cooper

      pretty well said, in my opinion, Ashlee. Just remember a mama’s boy can be just as devoted to you after the mama’s gone…It doesn’t mean you are less important or less loved. It means he doesn’t want to live with any guilt when that day comes.

    • Holly

      I also agree with this. Like with the ex-mother-in-law, the woman did not change, the circumstances changed. You were no longer the girl that stole her son or got her son in trouble, you are now simply the mother of her granddaughter. Instead of protecting her son from you, she simply has to be cordial in order to maintain a relationship with you for her granddaughter. Sounds like you got the winning hand here :)
      maybe as the circumstances change with this new man and she sees you are not going anywhere maybe you will see a shift in her attitude and she won’t give you the cold shoulder anymore. Especially if there is a marriage. OR it could get worse. LOL. But either way, sounds like you have to grow up here and focus on your man and your child and whatever happens happens.

  8. BondeMommy

    Why would my husband do for his mother when she wasnt there for him? There are two sides to every story!!! Not every mother is a mother!

    • Single -3

      I’ll concede there are always two (2) sides to every story… Not every mother is a mother, though??? Give me a minute to try and wrap my brain around this… and all I can say that is two (2) wrongs don’t make it right. But, I know about some mama’s who won’t ever be pleased…

      • BondeMommy

        You are right, two wrongs dont make a right, but your last sentence is exactly what I mean by that!!! :)We (as in my husband and I) have pretty much given up because all she does is cause heartache and stress! It is not worth it any longer.

        • Mike Cooper

          She can’t push your buttons, if you don’t have any buttons… I know what you mean, though,, I had one like that… but you can’t let her cause you heartache. Roll with flow,,don’t pressure your man to pick you over her; and, can’t we just all get along?? You gotta try 99×99 times or wherever I read that…..

  9. John White

    This is the dumbest column ever. But it looks like it is here to stay since it generates so much talk.

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