My parents are pretty old school. Being born in the late 1930s to very poor families will do that. As a result, they've carried some unquestioned and contradictory views on gender issues. Misogyny, whether they're aware of it or not โ€” is an underlying theme in nearly everything they say.

My mom especially has always had this notion you should be grateful for a job. Just the other day, I told her I felt lukewarm about my job now. She reminded me again that I was lucky to have a job and that I should be grateful. I bristled a bit and said, "I have my job because I was qualified. I earned it. I'm not going to be grateful for something I earned." She responded that of course it's true, but there are so many other people out there who just as qualified who don't have jobs. So I need to show up and do my job to the best of my abilities. (As if I didn't already know that at age 35.)

We then started talking about my husband and how he's going through some anxiety over work stuff. She reminded me again to be a good, supportive wife and treat him well. (Seriously?) I was sharing a conversation with her, and she started going about how I shouldn't say this or say that and then lectured me. And, yes, my own mother told me to "be nice" to my own husband. Again, she started in with being grateful and happy for what I have because not everyone does.

My brothers, as far as I know, get no friendly reminders. When one of them talked about how he wanted to aim higher at work and get more money, my parent hailed that. The next year, I said something about asking for a raise, both of my parents admonished me for even thinking such a thing in a recession and, again, I should be grateful I even get a paycheck. Then they reminded me that if I got fired for asking for a raise (the hell?), they wouldn't be helping me out.

I'm really beginning to hate that word "grateful." It just discounts everything I've worked for. To me, that's just the basic foundation for being taken advantage of and never asking for more. It's as though my parents think my brothers deserve all their rewards but I got lucky because my boss took pity on me and did me favor when she hired me.


I'll be damned if I'm going to attribute my success to someone or something else. Fuck that. I own it.

When I actually articulate all that, both of my parents say that's never what they mean. But that's sure as shit how I feel because they seem to expect the worse in me.


Am I being hypersensitive here, oh dear Groupthink?