My parents have always been pretty great about letting me follow my dream. They were super supportive when I wanted to pursue art as a career, and even more so when I decided that after enough college debt to last well into my thirties, I wanted to go into a career outside of art. They were even supportive (albeit, a little heartbroken) when I decided to move to San Francisco to do so. The years ticked on, and they continued to listen to my worries and complaints and celebrate my victories with little to no outward anguish about my life’s trajectory. And then a few things happened. 1) I broke up with my boyfriend of five years. The one they thought was a sure bet. The one they considered the answer, and whom they thought would eventually deliver all the things they hoped for me. 2) I got a job I love. Eighteen hundred miles away from where they were hoping I’d settle down, conveniently within a three mile radius of the house I grew up in. And 3) I did the worst thing an unwed, independent, childless woman could do. I turned thirty.
It was at this point that I noticed their advice had become a little more pointed, a little more exasperated, and had a very clear end goal that, while it *is* a goal of mine, seems to be infuriatingly simple in their minds, and why am I not just doing it?!
Have a baby.
But having a baby means having a relationship (at least they hope) and so they’ve set about offering a number of solutions to get the ball rolling. Here are eight pieces of dating advice from my baby-crazy parents.
1. Move home.
Let it be known: according to my parents, every bad thing that has ever happened to me happened because I moved away from home. So, naturally, the first step to any solution is to move back. This piece of advice comes in many iterations: Just move home and save some money, just move home and get away from those Californian weirdos, just move home so you can play bingo on Tuesdays with us. What better way to meet men than to hang out at Bingo with your parents? My parents have the notion that when I’m in California I engage in zero human interaction and just sit on Facebook all day discussing the latest paparazzi photos of Vince Vaughn. I don’t know where they got this idea. (Do not check my Facebook feed.) But they’re convinced that a little quality time with two humans who have been attached to each other for more than 25 years is just the thing I need to learn some socialization skills.
2. Get that cute haircut you had in 2008.
Nothing sends a boy into a tizzy like your mom’s favorite haircut. It was a great little above-the-shoulder bob, and you look so fresh with it out of your face like that. Also stop dying your hair because people pay hundreds of dollars to get your natural color. C’mon, everyone likes it. Dad loves it.
I don’t know if they sense that I rock a greasy top-knot most days (or that when I do manage to wash my hair, everyone in the office gathers around to discuss) but what I do with my hair seems to be a major concern, and they seem to think rocking the ill-advised mom cut I had in the late aughts will bring me that much closer to mom-dom.
3. Quit your job.
An important addendum to the ‘Just Move Home’ argument, quitting your job frees up your time to consider how you could never afford to live in San Francisco (being jobless and all), and you know what would lighten the burden? Two incomes. A roommate. A baby (somehow). My parents are not at all opposed to the idea of me as a working mother. My mom was a working mother. But for some reason, any time I hit a pothole in my career, the phrase “Just quit” is out of their mouths faster than any actual useful advice. I think in their minds, turning away from my career means turning toward something else. And that something else is babies.
4. Make friends with that exchange student.
Forget that he’ll be gone in a number of months, or that if you two were to fall in love, there’s the danger of him sweeping you halfway across the world, JUST INTERACT WITH A BOY. This piece of dating advice came from my dad when I was in high school, and is pretty indicative of just how little my dad cares about vetting my boyfriends. He elbowed me that day in church without knowing the exchange student’s name, where he came from, or whom he was staying with.
5. Take out your eyebrow piercing.
Why would you do such a thing? You have such a beautiful face, and now you’re going and expressing yourself with it. Keep this up and you’ll find someone who genuinely likes you for your tastes and interests instead of settling down with someone who likes you for our tastes and interests. I did, eventually, take out the eyebrow piercing.
6. Whatever you do, don’t buy two wedding dresses.
Who do you think you are, a Kardashian? Two dresses. Come on. What kind of person needs a costume change in the middle of their wedding? Do you think the husband realized how high maintenance she is before now? No one wants to marry a girl who needs TWO wedding dresses. Two. Come ON. Nothing in the world made my mom angrier than when my cousin had two wedding dresses.
7. Get a skin cancer check from my cute doctor.
He’s really cute. And young. Not, ya know, too young. Also, don’t eat too much before you go, because I got a little queasy last time, and you don’t want to throw up on the cute doctor. Nothing like your own mother encouraging you to fake a skin cancer scare so you can maybe throw up on a cute guy.
8. Watch these Josh Groban videos.
He’s so cute and funny, and *sigh* have you heard him sing Ave Maria? He would be a good answer, wouldn’t he? You should marry Josh Groban. Your aunt has a neighbor whose kid kind of looks like Josh Groban, maybe you can find him on Facebook. What is it with moms and Josh Groban? Apparently even Josh Groban look-alikes carry all the same mother-approved Josh Groban traits and so if you go for any one of them, you’re set.
While my parents Midwestern quirkiness is sometimes endearing and sometimes infuriating, there are a few valuable relationship lessons I have learned from them, not so much during Sunday phone calls, but by their example. Devotion, selfless love, reliability, and loyalty to name a few. All in all, I’m happy to endure their panic-driven dating advice because in the end, they know that a settled, committed relationship and a family will make me happy, and they want me to have it. With Josh Groban.