The Best Advice I Learned This Holiday Season to Deal With the Dreaded “Y El Novio?”
I was home for the holidays having lunch with my abuela when she asked me "Maria, how old are you?" I froze. I knew where this conversation was going. I looked at her and lied and said 22, because I knew she was going to say that by 22 she was married and had two kids and I needed to get my act together. This time around she didn't buy it. I had been using that same answer for many years because my grandma doesn't really keep track of my age — although she always remembers my birthday.
She said, "No way, you should be 24 or 25 by now." God bless her. Truth is, I'm about to be 30 in a few days. My parents, my aunt, and uncle — who were also at the table — knew the truth and started laughing. I couldn't hold it anymore and said, "Grandma, I'll be 30 in January." She froze. She didn't know what to say, but she was visibly upset. How could I be wasting my life like that? A pretty girl like me should have a husband by now.
I told her that I'm happy being single. She almost cried. I told her how awesome my job is and all the amazing things I get to do. She didn't seem to care. I told her how being a dog mom is a full-time responsibility, but this one backfired and she said she hopes to meet her actual great-grandchildren before she dies. After a moment, she asked, "Y tu no tienes ningún enamorado?" That's her way of asking, "Y el novio?"
"I don't," I replied. But I told her that right now, that was for the better. I told her how I got to go to Greece and travel to Paris. Her answer? "You should've gone with a boyfriend." At this point I just laughed it off and sneakily recorded her reaction to post on my Insta Story because I knew my friends would also get a kick out of it.
A few minutes later I got a reply from one of them, who had the best solution for these types of situations. She told me that next time my abuela — or anyone for that matter — asks me about el novio, I should reply that they should pray for it, and maybe that way I can get one faster. I thought this was genius, and it somehow puts that responsibility on other people, which they won't want, and subsequently, they leave it alone.
I knew I was going to get bombarded with the same question again during Nochebuena, because my grandma is 80 and her memory isn't the best anymore. So, exactly as I predicted, on December 24, she pulled me aside and asked the dreaded, "Y el novio?" I told her that I don't have one, and then she said that I should because I'm a great catch — gotta love your abuela for boosting your confidence!
This was the perfect set up for the answer my friend suggested, so I took my chance, and told my grandma, "Let's do something: why don't you pray for it and let's see if next time I see you I'll bring a guy home." She looked at me a bit confused, didn't say a word, and dropped the subject. That was that for the rest of the night. Simple, effective, and no need to get all worked up.
After many years of the same question, I've understood that you've got to take these things with a grain of salt. My abuela and tías are from a different generation. Generations in which women were tailored to be housewives, care for the kids, and keep the household running. We've come a long way in redefining women's roles, and we're making a lot of efforts to become equal to men. Unfortunately, some folks from past generations haven't really evolved with the times, and they'd rather stay in the comfort of what they know and what they've accepted.
Change is not easy for everyone, and while I try to break it down to my abuela, she just can't process some things. So, what I do is try to find common ground with her, engage her with topics she likes like literature, philosophy, or current news. She also loves beauty, and more often than not, I recommend her or get her new products for her to try and suggest little tweaks to her routine so she can "look younger" — she loves that.
It's about llevar las fiestas en paz, because I don't get a lot of moments where I can be with my whole family, so I'd rather focus on the good things and let the little uncomfortable questions slide. There will always be *that* question, whether it's el novio for the single ones, "When are you getting married?" for the couples, "When are you having children?" for the married ones, and "When are you having another child?" for the new parents. The questions won't stop, so it's a matter of choosing how you'd like the time you spend with your family to go down.