I knew this day would come but I didn’t think it would happen so fast. It seems like just yesterday my little boy was sitting next to me, in overalls and holding a Thomas train, gazing at me with love and affection. The day he promised to marry me made my heart sink because I knew it was a ruse. My little boy would grow up some day and he’d likely find someone other than his mother to accompany him to movies.
And that time is now.
My son is dating and I’m fairly certain I’m not ready. In fact, I know I’m not because I have so many questions. Don’t worry: I’ve left it to him to decide whom he fancies because I’m not that kind of meddling mom. I’m talking about the protocols. The procedures. The proper parental etiquette when it comes to being introduced to your teen’s beloved.
Frankly, I feel like I’m the one going on a first date judging by the way I broke out into a cold sweat when I thought about meeting his girlfriend in the least embarrassing way possible.
Turns out, that’s not at all possible.
Because, just by virtue of being his mother, I am, in fact, embarrassing when it comes to his girlfriends.
Mind you, I’m not trying to be embarrassing.
It’s just that I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to being a parent of a teen who dates.
Now that his relationships have moved past “We’re just texting, Mom” to “Mom, I’m gonna meet her at the movies, okay?” I find myself in uncharted territory and it’s unnerving. I can’t be the only parent who feels ill prepared to handle first kisses and conversations about whether or not girlfriends are allowed in bedrooms with closed doors (all the nopes, #sorrynotsorryson).
And I had so many questions in the beginning, questions that were answered in a baptism by fire kind of way, much to my son’s embarrassment.
So, parents of teens who are about to start dating, learn from me:
1). What does one wear that conveys “So glad to meet you and welcome to our home but please don’t break my son’s heart?”
Well, I can tell you that accidentally honing in on a FaceTime conversation while wearing a face mask, no bra and pajamas at 10p is probably not the right way to go. If you figure it out, let me know because my son is still rolling his eyes at me.
2). When is the right time to introduce yourself to the parents?
Because I like to be super awkward and embarrassing, I sent a text along the lines of “Hi! Our kids are dating and I just wanted to let you know that I’ve taught my son to be respectful and he knows about consent and I don’t want you to worry when your daughter is in our house and they’ll be supervised and feel free to reach out any time! Looking forward to meeting you soon! Maybe we can meet for cocktails? But, don’t worry: we aren’t big boozers. Omg, forgive me, I’m nervous!” after my son’s second date.
I’m pretty sure his girlfriend’s mother thinks I’m going to be a real problem as a mother in law. So does my son.
3). Is it appropriate to start a wedding registry after the third date?
I jest, I jest. Sort of. No, really, I’m kidding. But, as someone who knows far too many people who met in high school and who are now married with kids, it’s impossible to not think, “Omg, should I start picking out a mother of the groom dress?” Moms, simmer down and just let your kids date. There will be plenty of time for china patterns and catering battles. Like, 15 years from now so everyone just take several seats. But, what if……just stop it, Momzilla.
4). Where is the best place to park when picking your kid up from their date’s house?
My husband did the field research on this so I blame him for my son’s mortification. The answer is to maintain a respectable distance so as to not thwart the good night kiss or blind them with your headlights while yelling, “You ready, boy? Let’s roll, it’s getting late,” out the window. Yes, my husband is embarrassing, too. It’s why I married him.
5). When is it okay to invite your teen’s boyfriend or girlfriend to dinner at your home?
This is a trick question. One would think that a simple invite to share a meal with your family around your kitchen table would be a welcome advance. You would be wrong.
Because apparently, your family is loud and obnoxious, the meal you have planned is all wrong and why on earth would you subject your teen’s date to embarrassing stories about toddler tantrums and baby photos? Sorry, parents of teens, but your kid is pretty much never going to want to bring their date to dinner so you might as well give up.
The bad news is that my poor son will have to endure many more of my embarrassing parenting moments when it comes to his dates. I’m always going to look at him as the little boy clutching a Thomas train instead of flowers and chocolates for a girl on Valentine’s Day. It’s a process and I’m still learning.
The good news?
I’m going to be a lot less embarrassing when my daughter starts dating because I’ve learned a thing or two, lucky for her.