“Oma” is what my brother and I called our mom’s mom. I think it’s German. Could be Yiddish. And my Oma was a tiny little force of badassery. Growing up in Germany she had to flee when Nazis invaded and were total dicks. She got married at 18 and had my mom at 19. She was married 3 times. On her third wedding, in what I can only hope was with a jolly attitude of pure, “Fuck it” instead of wearing a wedding gown, she wore a T-shirt that said, “BRIDE” and had tees made that said “GROOM”, “BEST MAN”, “MAID OF HONOR,” and “BRIDESMAID.” She reminded me a lot of Lucille Ball. It was the voice, the sense of humor, and the attitude. Simply put, she didn’t put up with any guff and she didn’t fuck around. Here’s three pieces of advice she passed down.
ON SMOKING: “Michelle. If you’re gonna smoke, smoke right” she said to my mom, relenting and buying her a silver cigarette case engraved with an “M” for her birthday. (It was the ’70s! They had smoking sections in high schools!)
The other day I got asked by a group of women how to respond to people constantly asking them “Why are you not married” or the equally difficult to answer, “When are you going to get married?” As someone who married late and spent my fair share of time in between relationships…I can certainly relate to the question.
You would think, in an era where 50% of people are unmarried and plenty of us believe marriage is obsolete, that the question would also die off. More people are putting off marriage or choosing to not marry at all, but the pressure to pair is still there at both 40 and 20. Even in New York City, where it’s quite common to be single in your 30s and 40s, people still feel suitor skepticism and family expectation. Dates assume you must be crazy or neurotic if you are not hitched, parents put on the pressure and older relatives quietly question… “Is he/she gay?”
One woman’s mother calls her after every date to ask…how did it go?
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