This pretty much sums up what I learned from my mother about women and men…

  1. Women aren’t worth much if they don’t have a boyfriend/husband.
  2. Do whatever it takes to keep your boyfriend/husband, no matter how he treats you.
  3. If your boyfriend/husband doesn’t like something about you, you need to change it.
  4. If your boyfriend/husband wants to leave, it’s all your fault and you should give him whatever hewants to keep him. Cry, beg, hang on for dear life, make promises to change, sell your soul.
  5. If you keep your boyfriend/husband happy in the first place by giving him whatever he wants ordoing whatever he asks, no matter what the cost to your own spirit, you won’t have to worryabout the previous rules.

Of course, these aren’t things she told me (frankly, she didn’t talk to me about sex or boys at all), these are things she taught me by example. My dad was an alcoholic and although he wasn’t overtly meanor abusive, he was pretty much emotionally absent. My mom was absent in her own way. She was soconcerned with keeping him happy and keeping him with her, she didn’t really have the energy to be agood parent either. She overlooked countless affairs and when circumstances forced her to confrontthe truth, she didn’t get angry and stand up for herself, she was pathetic. She would cry and beg andmake promises to change…anything to keep him from walking out the door.
I was destined to make the same mistakes. An attention starved teenage girl with daddy issues and amom who was basically a doormat is a recipe for disaster. I lost my virginity at 16 under less than idealcircumstances, which started me on a long road of making really bad choices when it came to men. Thefirst serious boyfriend I had was extremely jealous and possessive, which I believed meant that he mustreally love me. He also drank a lot and called me horrible names. Throughout the years there wereseveral other boyfriends and casual relationships and I never handled it well. If they were jerks, I triedtoo hard to change them or tried to change myself in order to make them nice. If they were nice guys,either I treated them badly or I got way too attached, way too quickly and scared them off and when Iwas 22 I dated a 36 year old for a while, I loved that he took care of me(like I said, daddy issues). I wasnever true to myself and I constantly and knowingly made choices that chipped away at my own souland self-confidence. It was a difficult pattern to break, to say the least, but I did finally find my way out.
Something changed for me when I was 24. I think a lot of factors played into the shift in my thinking. Iwas exhausted from playing the games, my heart had been broken way too many times, and for somereason, I had finally learned the lessons I was meant to learn from all those mistakes. I could be happywithout a boyfriend, I deserved to be treated better than I had been in the past and if I wanted myrelationships to be different, I was going to have to change. I was going to have to behave as if I wasworth more, and that’s what I did. It wasn’t long until I met the man who would become my husband,and for the first time I understood what it meant to be someone’s partner.
Now I am the mother of three amazing girls. My oldest is nine, puberty is starting, she is definitelygetting boy-crazy and the other two aren’t far behind. I think a lot about what I can do to ensure thatthey handle themselves well when the time comes to start dating. First and foremost, I want them toknow that they are valuable and lovable and worthy on their own, they don’t need a man to make themany of those things. I want them to do things that they love and believe in and bring them joy withoutworrying about what someone else thinks. I want them to respect their own bodies. I want them torecognize that sex is something beautiful and special and should be shared thoughtfully and carefullywith someone they love, who loves them in return. I want them to understand that sex should neverbe used as a means to get love or keep love. I want them to be true to themselves, I don’t want themto pretend to be something or someone they aren’t in order to find or keep love. If and when they dodecide to get married, I want them to marry someone who truly knows them and not only loves them,but also respects them. I want them to marry someone kind, who will disagree at times and will speakup for themselves, but will never do so by cutting them down or calling them names. I want them to
marry someone who considers their thoughts and feelings equally, someone who wants a partner, not acaretaker.
Since I learned everything I knew from my mother’s example, I truly believe that the best way for meto teach my own girls is to be the kind of woman I want them to grow up to be. I married a wonderfulman. He has always treated me with respect, he’s kind and generous, and he listens to me. We bothbelieve that treating each other well and making time for our relationship will only help the girls as theygrow up and fall in love and have families of their own. I have also been known to remind my husbandand other fathers I know that they need “to be the man they want their girls to marry.”
I also really want my girls to learn that there is more to me than being their mom. For a long time, myonly dream was to take care of my family and be the perfect housewife. I believed that because I hadthe privilege to stay-at-home, it was my responsibility to take care of all the needs and wants of mychildren, then my husband’s, and then mine if there was any time or energy left. That doesn’t work forme anymore, so I’ve made some changes over the last year or so. I’ve made taking care of myself anddoing things I love a priority. I started exercising, I ran a half marathon, I do yoga regularly, I meditateevery morning, I have a therapist, and I write (and between you and me, I have even started thinkingabout getting a job, yikes!!). I have more peace and clarity than I have ever felt in my life. I am moresure of what I believe in and I’m not afraid to state my case even if it means I ruffle some feathers.Frankly, a lot of what I did over the last nine years was mindless routine, going along with the programbecause I was supposed to and I didn’t want to make waves, and I can’t tell you how good it feels to usemy mind again. My girls can see a change in me…I’m more patient, I’m more confident, I’m a betterlistener, and I’m happier, and all of these things make me a better mother. My husband sees it too andsupports me, and his example is every bit as important to them as mine is.
My hope is that my girls learn from my example as much as I learned from my mother. If I’ve done myjob well, my girls will enter into relationships with much higher expectations than I ever had, they won’tcompromise their bodies or their souls to get or keep love, and they will find a partner who is exactlythat, an equal partner, who only treats them with love, kindness, and respect.
Until later…
To read more, visit me at my blog ~ Confessions of a Crazy Mom ~ I’m a woman who also happens to bea stay-at-home mom and a wife. I’m learning more every day about how to be the best I can be. I’d loveto share my journey with you and I’m always up for advice. Hope to meet you soon!!

a bitchin feminista mama at the intersection of political quagmire and real life.

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