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Can You Be Single and Please Your Mother?


This sculpture, Work No. 1092, by Martin Creed is a motor-powered, spinning inscription, which speeds up and slows down inside the gallery.




25 comments for “Can You Be Single and Please Your Mother?”

  1. Trixie says:

    My mother is 81, I am 47. I am successful and make a good living, always have, am financially independent (meaning I do not have a second income in my life and do not need it to live comfortably).

    And yet my mother ALWAYS, ALWAYS insists I consult with some man, whether it’s my brother (who has occasionally been destitute and has absolutely no savings at 58 years old) or my boyfriend about any type of financial issue. Whether to buy a home, sell a home, what to invest in, etc. It drives me NUTS, and is so insulting.

    She has also been telling my daughter, now 21, that she needs to “marry rich” almost since the moment she was born. It infuriates me. Such backwards thinking, that you have to have a man manage your finances, that you have to marry to be happy/live well.

    And from a woman whose husband left her after 27 years of marriage and who lives on a government pension because she never worked or learned a skill or had a profession, and my Dad’s business went bankrupt.

    I know that was her generation, but why advise the women in your life to take the same path that did absolutely nothing for you?


    Sorry to rant.

    • wendy says:

      The cultural paradigm is so fierce. It’s hard to swim upstream. But, together, we will help change the world. I really believe that.

  2. Juliet says:

    If you mother dislikes men and marriage, the answer is yes. This is just as unhealthy being pushed into marriage.

  3. JoDa says:

    My mom is finally learning to celebrate my achievements. It was a long, hard battle.

    I was super-bitter when I finished grad school only a few months after my younger brother got married. They got THOUSANDS of dollars from my family for their marriage, on top of the family paying for parts of the wedding bill…I got a combined total of less than $100 from my family for getting a f’n MASTER’S DEGREE (I paid for both undergrad and grad school on my own), NOT EVEN A CELEBRATORY DINNER AT SOME CRAPPY CHAIN RESTAURANT. Not to mention that my brother and SIL were doing okay financially at that time, while I was struggling to come up with the money for a security deposit on an apartment in an expensive city after securing a good job. It wasn’t until I told my mom and grandma that I was going to have to take a cash advance on a high-interest credit card to pay my security deposit that they finally stepped up and gave me a LOAN for the just over $1000 I needed.

    Nowadays, my mom does talk positively about me being successful, and has largely given up on the “when are you getting married” tripe. She even recently commented that I shouldn’t let a man at my money. My grandmother, before she died a few years ago, saw me buy my first home on my own, and when she offered me some down payment help (that had always been in her will, but she was offering to give it to me then), when I told her I didn’t really need it, she sent me a FAT gift certificate to buy some new furniture.

    Progress, slowly and steadily.

  4. Beth says:

    I feel fortunate to have a mother that has never pushed me to be in a relationship. I’ve had many women in my family never marry, live divorced for many years, or live widowed for many years. So it’s always kind of been in my mind that I need to be independent and happy with myself before worrying about a man. I know my mom would be happy if I found a kind man and could share a life with him, but she’s never made an issue of it. Whew, after writing that I am even more grateful for my mom this Mother’s Day!

  5. Jen says:

    I think mine gave up hoping for it years ago, if she ever cared.

  6. bitterbabe says:

    My mother has had several unhappy marriages and once told me that if she had to do it over again, she wouldn’t have had children. And yet, she was one of those mothers who would ask if I was dating anyone during every phone conversation.

    I do think I have disappointed her, although she probably would have been critical of any man I would have married. I think mostly she is bored and lonely and a wedding and in-laws and babies would have given her something to do and something to brag about to her friends.

  7. Jalina says:

    My mother did not pressure me to marry. She used to field questions from other women why her youngest daughter had not married and had children (this when I was in my early 20s and still in college).

    My mom’s own marriage was quite rocky and my parents eventually divorced. My mom did not have the self-confidence to go it alone and my dad ended up back in our lives until my mom passed away in 1997. A couple of years prior I enlisted in the Army to find my independence and figure out what I wanted out of life.

    I’ve always believed that life does not happen in linear fashion. Too many people, however, do believe that you’re supposed to do x at age x and then y at x age. And yes, it is hard swimming against the cultural paradigm.

  8. stacey says:

    My older sister came of age just as the women’s movement of the 70’s really took hold, and my mom raised her to think that she needed a man in her life to take care of her. To this day, even after being married and divorced, my sister never seems to be without a man in her life.

    I am 8 years younger than my sister, and I came of age after the deadline for ratifying the ERA had come and gone, but my mom raised me to believe that I can do anything I want, and that I don’t need a man in my life to take care of me. More often than not in my adult life, I’ve been without a man in my life.

    To this day, my mom is still worried that my sister’s current significant other hasn’t popped the question yet. And she believes that if I ever get a man in my life in any sort of permanent or semi-permanent way, that he’ll be little more than an extraneous appendage to me.

    I have no idea why my sister and I were raised so differently by the same woman. It’s just weird…

  9. wendy says:

    When my brother and I talk about my mother, it’s as if we’re talking about a different person. We’ve had such different experiences.

  10. Richard says:

    Do some mothers believe they have failed their adult single children? Feel guilty?

  11. Kelli says:

    This is one of very few areas of my life my mom keeps her nose out of. If she wishes that for me, she keeps it to herself and I appreciate that. Part of me wishes I’d been able to give her a grandchild. My brother has kids, but there is often a different dynamic between a mother & daughter than mother- & daughter-in-law.

  12. Petra says:

    Boy, am I ever fortunate! My Mom NEVER pressured me to get married, even though she got married relatively young (21) and was a suburban housewife with 3 kids. She revels in my accomplishments and my successes. I honestly think that she might have been a single woman had she been born a few years later (or at least single for a considerably longer period of time). To his credit, my conservative-in-outlook, traditionalist father also never goaded me to get married. He, too, brags a lot about my successes, almost to the point of embarrassment (he was bragging about my Ph.D well before I’d actually completed it!) Thanks, Mom and Dad!

  13. wendy says:

    It’s really great to have parents who get it. Makes a big difference.

  14. Tracey says:

    Unfortunately my mother tries to live her life vicariously through me and feels I will never meet the right man. Grant it I have dated men who have not been the right one. But, she criticizes everything I do and everyone I date. She refuses to meet my current boyfriend because she does not approve. He has not mistreated me in anyway, she just disapproves.

    • wendy says:

      That’s tough to have around, Tracey. My mother was very critical too, but she was so desperate for me to marry that she loosened her standards.

  15. Mark says:

    I don’t remember my mother ever pushing me to get married. She did cry a bit after I told her I was getting divorced and she said, “You two would have had beautiful children.” I never heard anything about it from her after that.

    After that, when I would ask her if she thought I should have kids, her response was always, “Kids are a lot of work.”

    Looking back now, I wish someone I respected had advised me when I was in my 20’s and 30’s. I mean, I have to accept the reality of where I am now. Still, it just seems like I missed a natural part of life. Science says we are programmed to mate and propagate. So far, I have been unable to stop brooding about it.

  16. Chris says:

    If my mum had wanted me to end with a decent partner she should have done a better job of raising me to ensure I’d be successful in the area of romantic relationships. But like a lot of people she was a lousy parent because she wasn’t prepared to put her kid ahead of herself. Thanks for nothing mum.

  17. Daira says:

    I’m a Bolivian woman who comes from a strangely matriarchal family. My mom, grandmother, aunts – you name it. They all make considerably more than their husbands, and hold more authority over family decisions. They are also all miserable in their marriages, so my mother is always glad when I tell her that I don’t want to marry and plan on not doing it for any foreseeable future. What really grinds her gears is my refusal to have children, adopt -maybe, but I have an intense fear of pregnancy so nope. No children for me.

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