Earlier this week, I posted a conversation between me and my grandmother. I have revisited her words in my mind over and over again. I believe we stayed on the phone well into the next day. What always stands out to me in our talks are her opinions on men. The title or the right to be called a “man” by her was saved for very few individuals in my life. The respect that she encourages me to have for my husband comes with the knowledge of who he is. Needless to say, she has never believed that every male should be afforded the same respect one gives a man.
I started to think about how many times that lesson is lost by women. I remember I was dating a guy once who was a chest beating, self proclaimed “man”. He made a point to let me know that he was the leader and he deserved respect. These exclamations came when he was acting in a way that was unbecoming of what I had learned a man to be. That relationship didn’t last very long, but I would be lying if I didn’t write that his chest beating was the reason. I thought his words were correct. At one time, I believed his gender alone garnered my respect on all manners, even though he was a faulty individual.
I believe women are taught quite early that their position is less than a man. Some of us are taught that men are natural leaders, providers, and protectors. (A few weeks in a co-ed military bootcamp will show you that all men aren’t able to lead) We are taught this sometimes without a concrete example of what a “man” looks like. We are sold this idea to be martyrs for our relationships and our children, without realizing that that behavior will continue the cycle of accepting less than what one is worth.
I remember when I first moved in with my husband. I had this perception that I needed to cook for him, do his laundry, and figure out any and everything that made him happy. After about two weeks of that, my husband told me that he was a grown ass man and to relax. He didn’t want a maid. He wanted a partner. Unfortunately, the concept of not being everything this man needed left me lost for a bit. I had this thought that if I didn’t do everything he needed, then what was I there for. The reality was that I had met someone who did not need to beat their chest or put me in a place that was lesser than him to believe or feel like a man. I have yet to hear him say that he is the leader of our household, but he very much is. He leads not in words, but in his actions.
Some of the best leaders I have met in the military and in the public sector were individuals who didn’t need to remind you that they were above you. Likewise, the worst leaders were the ones who constantly had to prove that they were in charge. I believe we need to start teaching our daughters to throw away these archaic ideas about men. We need to teach our daughters to be mindful of a persons actions and how they make them feel. We need to teach them that every man does not deserve your honor, respect, and unconditional love. We need to teach both our daughters and sons to be their own leaders and when looking for love, they should choose a partner, not someone to follow or lead.
This week, I chose to concentrate on being thankful for all things in my life. As I’ve gone throughout this week, I have made a point to take a moment to acknowledge all that I have and the people around me. It dawned on me today that I have yet to be thankful for myself. I have come a long way, physically and mentally. I should always be thankful for myself. When I wasn’t thankful for myself, I allowed people to mistreat me, like in the case of the “chest beating man”. The moment I stopped to concentrate on my inner healing, I found a man who wanted me to love myself more than he loved me. Let’s teach our children to always appreciate themselves first.
So…I honor you. All you men who go throughout your days tirelessly putting your family’s wants and needs before your own. The men who consider their spouses/partners as equals. The men who let their egos go for the happiness and cohesiveness of their family’s. The men who had no examples, but are breaking the cycles of abuse and fatherless homes. The men who’s children run to the door to greet him. The men who play barbies or sit in school parking lots to help with homework. The men who never have to say how much of a “man” they are because they left their insecurities at the door. I honor you. I thank you.
Love and light y’all.