Mrs. Bredin’s train of thought was interrupted by the sound of a car in the driveway. She could always tell if the date had “gone well” by the amount of time it took from when she heard the car till the sounds of car doors opening and closing. If Leah had enjoyed her date, it would take several minutes.
Pacing near the front door, Mrs Bredin felt her heart rate increase as the minutes ticked away. Finally the door opened and a glowing Leah practically skipped into the hallway.
“Oh Ma, he’s the one. After 10 minutes of talking, I felt we had been old friends for years. He…” Leah’s chatty jubilation quickly faded as she saw the familiar disapproving scowl on her mother’s face.
“You’re actually thinking of going out with that meeskeit a second time?” she asked shaking her head in disbelief.
“Ma,” Leah asked with trepidation, “What do you mean meeskeit. Shimon’s not ugly! He’s got so much chayn!”
“Are you blind?” the older woman retorted with scorn. “Maybe I should make an appointment for you with an optometrist. Maybe you need glasses.”
“Ma, you know I wear contacts. Just what is so ugly about him?”
“His nose. It’s so big I’m surprised birds haven’t perched on it.”
“Oh, come on. It’s not that bad. It is a bit big… so what?”
“Where are your brains, Leah? You want your future daughters to look like Pinocchio? Getting a good shidduch is hard for the pretty girls like you. Why would you want to ruin your future daughters’ chances, giving them such a yerusha – a big nose?”
Knowing from bitter experience that she had lost this battle – as she had all the others – Leah tearfully yelled as she ran up to her room, “At this rate, I won’t have any daughters – nor sons either.”
“I’ll never get married Matti,” a despondent Leah moaned, as she accompanied her very pregnant best friend and her two toddlers to the playground the following Shabbat.
“Of course you will,” Matti insisted. “You are an amazing person. Be patient, the right one will come.”
“I think the right one came a long time ago, except nobody is good enough for my mother. I bet if Moshiach came knocking on the door, my mother would find something wrong with him. ‘What, you’re taking my daughter out on a donkey? You couldn’t afford to rent a car!’”
The kids looked up with curiosity as the two women convulsed in laughter.
As they watched the kids play, Leah looked sadly at her friend. “I just don’t understand why nobody is good enough. Almost all the boys I went out with have gotten married and to great girls. Obviously their mothers thought these boys were ‘worthy’ enough. Why is she so hypercritical of each and every guy?”
Leah was to ask herself this question many times over the next few months. The answer came one day while she was in the shoe store. An elderly woman accompanied by a graying, middle-aged woman had walked out of the door just as she came in, and Leah realized that she had seen the pair before, had actually seen them several times shopping in the neighborhood. She had assumed that the younger woman was a caregiver or companion. She was stunned to hear one of the older shoppers in the store comment, with obvious envy, how lucky Mrs. Rotgerber was to have such a devoted daughter attending to her constantly.
“What else should she do?” one matron dryly commented. “She never got married.”
“I wonder why not,” another asked. “I remember she was a nice looking girl. A shame she never found anyone.”
“Ah, she had plenty of opportunities,” sniffed another lady as she examined a shoe. “But you know how it is – she was just too picky.”
“Ah, picky, smicky, it’s just an excuse. Some kids don’t want to leave the nest. So many mamma’s boys, and momma’s girls too.”
“Hey, it’s not a one way street. There are plenty of momma birds who don’t want the chicks to leave the nest. They find ways of keeping them from flying off.”
“What are you talking about? Every mother wants her kids to get married, to give her nachas. They are on the phone with shadchanim day and night.”