I have to go buy my mother a present. Once in a while when my kids were growing up & making my CRAZY! I would buy my mother a present. You see, I was a horrid, horrid little girl. Whenever my children were difficult, I would think "Wow, my mother put up with this shit and let me live????" So I would buy her a little something. After a few presents, I remember an occasion where I handed her a wrapped gift...a book I think...and she looked at it and laughed "What did they do now?"
Like those episodes I am now thinking how well my mother prepared me for other things in life. I was already well aware of how lovingly I was raised. I know people whose parents rarely had a kind word for their children, much less praise. I am so very lucky. My upbringing was totally different. I was constantly told I was smart and funny and pretty and could do anything I wanted to. My mother, my father, Mama Kelley (my mother's mother who we moved in with when I was 11), my uncles were all a Greek chorus sounding a constant hum of approbation. And not just for me, but Grace and Frankie and Jennifer. I often heard my grandmother relay some success on the part of my cousins or uncles with an added "...well of course, my children/grandchildren are so smart!"
So let's just say, low self esteem was never my problem.
But just in case there were any doubts on my part as to how I should be expected to be treated by a man, there was a talk the night before my wedding. My mother, my grandmother and I sitting in the living room. Mama Kelley said "If John ever hits you..." I interrupted to protest, but she just held up her hand. "...if he ever hits you, don't fight back, don't argue...." Now I was completely bewildered. These were two women who didn't take guff from anyone and had raised us in the same way. "Then when he falls asleep, take this...." at this point she reaches down and pulls up a cast iron skillet. This is like the Twilight Zone, how did this skillet, that I have never seen anyone use, get in the living room? "....and whack him in the head as hard as you can! Then call your father to come get you."
Then we all laughed. My mother, father and grandmother had known John all his life and loved him. They were very happy about the wedding. But this was an important lesson, no matter who the groom was.
So, why am I bringing this up? Well I just finished reading the story of a woman who endured 15 years of spousal abuse. For a long time she felt she deserved it.
I know that the way I was raised saved me from that danger. The men I have had relationships have all been wonderful. They might not have been right for me, but it was never *bad*. That wasn't possible because I would never have accepted even minor abuse. I joke that no man has ever looked at me cross-eyed and it's true. If you don't think I am the greatest thing since sliced bread.....well then...I have no time for you. I have never understood how anyone puts up with anything less. I have always thought that the first time someone hits you, you should have my complete sympathy. But the second time? Not so much. However as time passes, I see that it's different for so many people. While the first time would surprise anyone....the second and third and twentieth could actually be a surprise for someone if they weren't raised as I was.
So....what should we get for Muriel?