The words tripped off his tongue easily, but hit my ears like a jackhammer. He’s my 21-year-old, college-senior son. Okay, I know, that’s plenty old enough to have a serious girlfriend. But I wasn’t ready to hear the word “girlfriend” spoken quite so easily. This wasn’t, after all, a high school prom date. This was college: two consenting college seniors living hours from home in two beautiful townhouses with summer jobs and money to spare. This was practically adulthood.
I wasn’t ready.
I know. You’re judging me already. To be fair to this middle-aged, not-quite-ready mom, he had dropped the bombshell a bit too casually, and waited until I drank two glasses of wine at a family wedding just a few miles from his college in Washington D.C. I had finagled an invitation for him to be my “plus one” at the wedding because my husband couldn’t make it, and had been hoping to snag some quality moments.
And now, here was this interloper, whom he was planning to bring to the post-wedding breakfast the next morning, to meet me along with the rest of my family.
Why didn’t I know about her sooner? Why hadn’t either of my other two children told me about her? I was feeling very betrayed and out of the loop.
“Of course, I’d love to meet her,” I lied.
I couldn’t figure out whether to take solace in what he said next: “And by the way, Mom, when you meet her tomorrow, please act as though you’ve known about her a long time.”
“How long?” I wondered, but didn’t ask.
That would have to wait until I got home, when I could grill my daughter to find out exactly how long was a long time. (A year, I later discovered.)
In the meantime, at least he wanted to introduce me at all. Mothers have to take comfort in such things. Meeting the girlfriend is never easy, when our sons are everything and we want to make sure they are everything to someone else as well. As I waited for her to arrive, I realized: It can’t be much easier for her.
“Just don’t hurt him,” I wanted to say as I extended my hand across the breakfast table and introduced myself.
“I am so glad to finally meet you,” I said instead, a broad smile on my face. And this time, I wasn’t lying.