When Mom Puts You in Your Place
Originally published 6-3-12
So the last time my mom was in town after the Holiday Wine and Liquor photo shoot, I was feeling low and acting cranky -- she gave me all day to feel it until I just couldn't hold it in anymore and I just let go and cried. I told her how I felt so guilty about how I treated my college boyfriend. Huh? It had been at least 10 years!
I told her how no one at the time told me, “this is what men are supposed to treat you like,” or , “this young man exhibits qualities that you should want in a mate,” or “when a guy knows how to iron his own clothes and does it on his own,” these are great things!
No one told me what to look for in a partner and I was so young that I thought all guys are good guys, it will be no problem to find someone like him.
And it’s not that I miss that him, I miss the way I was treated. I miss being treated well.
While I was crying she gave me a pep talk about how I was a 9 ( on a scale of 1-10) and how these boys that I have wasted my time on are looking for 4s. She also said I should tell potential boyfriends that when they're ready for a 9, and a respectable relationship with one, then they could call me, but not until then.
I argued and told her she didn’t know how it felt to be me, to be young and have worked in jobs where women aren’t always respected and to have encountered men who wink at your and send you emails when it’s clear they are committed or worse married.
She told me to zip it, stood up from the couch and stood over me as I sat in the living room chair and with conviction in her voice ( I have never heard her talk to me with such strength and confidence) continued to tell me that I held the key to how men treat me, that I set the tone from the start.
No one had ever told me that before, or maybe they did and I never believed it.
No one is calling Kate Middleton at 4am for a ride because they’re drunk.
I told my mom I thought I had to mold myself into the "cool girl" or what the flavor of the week wants at the moment.
She said she could tell that I act like a woman who has been abused (I had been) and who take crumbs so to speak, and steps on eggshells for fear of rocking the boat, when I should be expecting a lot more and I should be able to be myself. (How’s that for 3 maybe not so coinciding metaphors in one sentence).
No one ever told me I should expect and deserve respect, honesty or kindness. Isn't that weird? I guess everyone thought I would deduce that. Also - to be in a good relationship - I needed to give those things.
Since my last relationship I have casually dated, I have shared drinks and meals with guys who give me so little or nothing at all, or worse disrespect me.
Intellectually, I get that me seeing these types of guys is silly at best and sad at worst.
I hear great praise from really generous people in regard to other areas of my life, so I get that some people believe I'm special in some ways, but when my mom was talking to me - I didn't really believe I was special.
To make matters more complicated, I'm not sure if finding someone happened, if I would even want to commit to someone. It's kind of like what came first the chicken or the egg?
What came first, my unwillingness to commit or the inability to find someone to commit with? I am whole heartedly unsure.
It has been easily 5 years since I have had a back and forth with someone I trust with my well-being. And 5 years will do a lot to take you out the dating game and make you feel uneasy.
This almost feels like a growing pain. Like I'm shedding my skin or breaking through a wall, and there's something really cool on the other side. But I'm not exactly sure what's on the other side.
Cory Booker ( the mayor of Newark) when asked how he stays grounded he said, " I have major insecurities." HE has major insecurities but leads groups of people into a better life. Many people think he is great, but he may not even believe it. Isn't that strange and sad?
So moms and dads out there, do your kids a favor, let them know that they are 9’s. Tell them everyday that they are special and that they should be kind and respectful and they absolutely deserve for someone to be kind and respectful to them. If you accept (and give) anything less than kindness and respect you are shorting yourself.
It’s lovely to hear praise and encouragement from friends and co-workers and family, but when it comes from your parents, it just sticks more, holds more weight. The positive words sink into your soul a little deeper, they hold you steady as we walk through this beautiful life.
Thanks for the talk, Mom.
PS. I followed my Mom's advice and 4 months later met my husband. It works!