Looking for advice on how to deal with my mother, who's gotten it into her head that I should completely change my life in every way by the end of 2010 (including getting an arranged marriage.) Novella-length details inside.
posted by anonymous to human relations (26 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry in advance for a long and convoluted question.
I'm an Indian-American guy in my late 20's, born and raised in the US. I'm pretty much a typical MeFite, with far-left views, a stress-free and healthy attitude towards life and work, non-mainstream interests and sense of humor, etc. I think my job is pretty relaxed and interesting and looks impressive on my resume, with the only negative being a rather low salary. I live in a medium-sized town where I have lots of friends, play in gigging bands, go on dates from time to time, and have lots of things to do. Bottom line, I've worked to find a life I'm happy with on my own terms, and I'm reasonably content for the time being while continuing to improve my life and looking forward to some future plans. My mother, though, seems to constantly have different ideas for my happiness, justified or not.
She's turning 60 in June, and will get monthly social security benefits starting in January if she retires. So she's looking to retire and move to India in January to take care of my grandmother (who is not deeply ill, just rather old) for 4-5 years, collecting the social security from abroad. She currently has a mortgage on a house in the suburb I grew up in, which complicates things. She doesn't think she can get a good price on the house in this market, and doesn't want to rent it out to someone else, because it would be hell for her to move all her stuff out and keep it somewhere while she's out of the country for a few years (though she admits the option is there). And if she sells the house, she has to buy another one when she comes back in a few years.
Yesterday she sprung a plan on me which I'll lay out in three steps: she thinks I should 1) find a job in Big City (a few hours from where I'm living now), 2) move into her house and pay the $600/mo mortgage while I'm there, instead of or in addition to getting an apartment in the city, and 3) have her help me find a wife through an arranged marriage setup before she leaves for India. And all of this should happen in around 6 months. I was sort of stunned and noncommittal when she told me, just trying to process it all and figure out how to respond without her threatening to disown me or screaming that her sons don't care about her (there seems to be drama, intensity and guilt trips on her part whenever these kinds of things are discussed.) Then this morning she wrote an email to my brother and uncles, characterizing me as being open to and accepting of these plans. I told her I'd call her after work today. I need to find a delicate way so her feelings aren't hurt and/or she loses it and refuses to listen to any reason, which has happened almost every time we've had conversations like this, no matter how calm and soothing I try to be.
1) The job thing - I do want to move to the city and get a job there - it's been my plan for some time now, especially because these smaller towns have jobs with rather low salaries - but this is a REALLY difficult market for everyone and even moreso in a competitive city. I have good credentials but I'm not confident that I can find something I'll be happy with in a short time, and I feel like the axe of a deadline will just cause unneeded stress and hamper my job search. Also, if I stick around for a few more months I'll be able to say I have at least 3 years of experience in my profession, which seems to be a requirement for many of the jobs I want.
2) Moving into her house - I grew up in those suburbs, they're really boring and soulless and hardly any of my friends live there anymore, and it's generally an hour or more commute to the city. And for a while now I've fantasized about living in the city and having easy access to my friends, indie shows and movies and great things to do, more options in dating and making friends with cool people, etc. - I think I'm just a young guy who belongs in the heart of a city for many reasons. I also don't see why her mortgage and her possessions should be my responsibility. I'm sympathetic to her plight, but she can just rent the place out with my help, right? And does she HAVE to move to India immediately?
3) Arranged marriage. I've always been bewildered by it. Not to go off on a tangent, but much of it seems like a way to continue some racist, sexist, and materialistic traditions. At a more visceral level I would find it embarrassing to be a part of, and it's frankly terrifying to jump into marriage concerns before I even really know someone. Yet it's the norm in my parents' culture, I guess? I'm comfortable with striking it out on my own and just dating like everyone else in America, and I've told my mother this consistently, but she doesn't want to hear it. I also have doubts that the traditional-minded women who post on marriage sites like shaadi.com would have anything remotely in common with me.
So, just looking for any advice for this situation. Is her plan completely nuts and unfair? How can I handle letting her down on all of these issues, or should I? Am I being selfish? I try to respect her wishes like any caring son should, but all of this strikes me as outlandish and I'm suddenly feeling intensely trapped, like all of the good and carefree aspects of my life are in danger. If I answer honestly, she will shut down, threaten to disown me, and maybe even go into a full-on depression (or pretend to as a guilt trip? I've never been clear on that one.) Throwaway email is firstname.lastname@example.org (Again, sorry for the long and convoluted question!)