Yep, another post about how I wish I could do more for random people. Is it bad that I'd happily pare down my family's Christmas gifts to buy for strangers? By pare down, I mean 1 or 2 gifts for the kiddo & that's it. (Which would NEVER fly b/c my husband cannot help buying any and every little thing on our daughter's wish list. He's a sick, sick, sick man. Which is why I love him so much.)
Today the local paper featured a family who needs a little Christmas cheer. The paper actually runs this segment every year for a couple weeks leading up to Christmas. They feature a new family/individual/organization each day, give a little back story, then list the things they want/need. In the years I've been reading this series in the paper, I've always felt moved to help in some way, but have only actually pulled it off once. Now I'm wracking my brain on ways to pull it off again.
Today's family really struck a chord. It is the story of a mother who was being abused by her husband, but left when the husband started abusing the children. This story really hit me b/c that mother did what I had always hoped my mother would do when my stepdad was abusing her & us. Instead, she stayed married to him through some pretty horrific stuff, while my brother & I had a front-row seat to the dysfunction. I don't remember a time in our lives when my stepdad didn't beat us kids. For awhile, it seemed normal. But by the time I reached 3rd or 4th grade, it was obvious that what was happening in our house wasn't happening in everyone's. Once I became aware that it was wrong, I became more & more frustrated with each incident. I was disgusted that my mother would stay in that situation knowing that her children were suffering. It's why it's so difficult for me to feel sympathy for abused women who don't seek help. It's also why I feel so much affection for abused women who do.
The mother in the story wants a gift card for gasoline & a journal. Her children want bikes and a couple of little toys. I really hope the community steps up & grants this family's Christmas wishes. Those children & that woman deserve to receive everything they asked for and then some. Those kids need to see that their mom protected them and that they are safe. That mom needs to be rewarded for doing the right thing for her children. Getting out seems so simple, but it's not. In fact, most women never do. They allow their children to be physically & psychologically abused b/c it's "easier" than being alone.
It's by the grace of God that I did not follow in my mother's footsteps. I give all that credit to the few strong, independent women I am lucky enough to know, especially my Granny, my aunt Kat, and my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Franklin. They didn't turn a blind eye, nor did they preach one thing & live another. They were living, breathing examples for me to watch and mold myself after. In my opinion, that made all the difference. This could not be more apparent than it is now when you see how I turned out then see how my brother turned out. We grew up in the same household, but we're two totally different people. Which is why we don't speak.
Having a family history of domestic violence makes stories like the one in today's paper stand out to me. I can empathize with the children and what they're going through. I can also appreciate the mother's choice to leave a lot more when I recall all the nights I prayed to God and asked him to kill my stepdad b/c I knew it was the only way we'd ever be free. Those children don't have to know how that feels and their mother deserves to be rewarded for that. Sure, if you haven't seen it in real life, you're probably thinking she did what she needed to do. While that's true, you'd be surprised how few women actually leave. Which is why those who do need to be reminded that they're doing the right thing.