I was in Madison this last weekend to celebrate the wedding of Megan Sexton and Jeremy Wood. It was a lovely ceremony (but then I am biased) and they are a truly wonderful couple in every way, and their friends and families are great as well. I am not going to write about their wedding per se, but rather about something that happened at the hotel that Erin and I stayed at on Friday night (between the rehearsal and the ceremony).
On Friday night as we checked into the hotel we came across a mother and daughter in an argument. At first it was hard to tell it was mother and daughter. From her hairstyle to her clothing, the mother was doing everything she could to appear to be as young as her daughter – and failing, simply because she isn’t as young as her daughter. (She was, however, acting as young as her daughter.) They were engaged in a argument about a pair of pants. Apparently they were arguing over who was getting possession of this particular pair of pants. The daughter was acting extremely entitled about this particular pair of pants. The mother was carrying on about how the daughter was only 19 years old. The conversation became increasingly heated and increasingly loud – and eventually spilled into the lobby of the hotel, after which God only knows what happened.
Seems like a lot over a pair of pants, doesn’t it? There are two truths at work here. The first truth is, it’s not about a pair of pants at all. The second truth is that we all have problems with this sort of thing – “this sort of thing” being an inability or unwillingness to talk about feelings and so appearing to make a big deal about nothing. Instead of talking about how the mother is afraid of losing her daughter as she drops her off for [another?] semester at college and the daughter is feeling a need for independence and feeling smothered by her mother – and she may also be just a little bit uncertain about her ability to function on her own at college. The result is that they get into a huge fight about anything but what they appeared to be fighting about.
The point here isn’t about mothers and their daughters or anything of the sort – it’s about our inability to discuss our feelings with each other and so we project those feelings onto all manner of odd things – including “those damn pants.” It’s not just parents and children, it’s adults and their significant others, neighbors with neighbors, employees with their supervisors – in just about every relationship we can think of we avoid talking about how we are feeling like we avoid passing gas in front of our mothers-in-law. The result is that we are stressed, we don’t feel as if we are understood, we question whether or not we are loved, and all other kinds of insanity.
Wake up, take off you damn pants, and start communicating!