My husband has always referrred to me as Veruca. Of course he does so in a completely tongue-in-cheek manner. He is referring to the spoiled brat that we know so well from the countless times watching "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" with our son. And from the times we, ourselves, watched the same movie as children. I'm not referring to the new-fangled Johnny Depp mess. I'm talkin' old school. Gene Wilder, psychedelic colors that make you think you are tripping on some hallucinogenic. Green-haired, orange-skinned Oompa Loompas. That one.
I used to be offended and refute his comment emphatically. I don't even bother anymore. There is more truth behind his words than even he knows.
He has heard stories, but doesn't know the me that was growing up, just a kid. The baby of 7 children, with the next in line to me being eight years my senior. Or of the fact that while my father was out earning his six figures' worth of paper, my mother was at home squeezing the dollars among the six children they had at once. Then something happened. The youngest next to me got married and moved out when I was in 5th grade, and all of that income had to only support one child. Me. And I got everything I ever could have wanted. The times my mother did try to say no to me quickly taught me how to turn that no into a yes. I literally was Veruca. Spoiled, rotten, manipulative, demanding. A true Brat's Brat!
But where the film leaves off, after Veruca is proclaimed to be a bad egg and her father has to rescue her from the garbage schute, we ask ourselves this: What happened when Veruca grew up?
You see, this Veruca's mom died when she was just 19. Fresh out of high school but still just a baby, starting the adventure in drunkenness that was to be my first year of college, I had many lessons to learn then. Looking back, I can ashamedly tell you of being evicted from my first apartment because I spent the hundreds of dollars set aside for rent on that cute,buttery leather Coach bag I just had to have. What? Me? Evicted? Mommy couldn't just write a check then. She wasn't there. And I had to learn that the world didn't owe me anything. Veruca's first life lesson.
So fast forward to years later. Veruca met a good-ol'-boy from Southern Kentucky. She married him. They had a baby. And Veruca realized that the world still didn't owe her any favors. So she did it the hard way. With a baby balanced on one hip, she studied and studied and studied. She took 24 credit hours per semester, with a 4.0 GPA, until she had a degree completed. And suddenly she realized that she really could have the designer handbag and pay the bills. She became the provider for her family and felt empowered, and realized she didn't have to rely on anyone else to give her what she wanted. She could go after it herself.
So am I still Veruca? Well, yes and no. No because I work for everything I get. While this is enabled by having a nice salary, I have that salary only because I worked to earn my professional credentials. When my classmates were just tryng to pass so they could work, I held myself to the highest standards so I wouldn't just get a job, but the job.
Somewhere along the timeline of my life,the idea of being Veruca switched from the literal to the metaphorical sense. I never did escape my upbringing. I grew beyond throwing tantrums for designer bags or clothes, dolls and other toys. But I still want it all.
What do I mean by this? Quite simply, I am referring to the idea that society has told women for generations that we could be a wife and mother, or we could have a career. What? You mean I have to choose? What happens when I choose both? Veruca has to have it all! I love my husband and my sons. I love my career. I love that I can return to school to seek even higher degrees so I can gain even more.
So yes, I am still Veruca. My husband is correct.