HELL IF I KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MAN

BOXER

If you’ve read my blog for awhile you know I have to be both mother and father to my 10 year old boy. Often, I have expressed frustration over being at a total loss when it comes to teaching him how to be a man. But there’s no one else around to do the job, so that leaves me. I don’t claim to understand men; if I did, I’d probably be in a healthy relationship right now. Even though I write from my male character’s POV in my romances, who knows whether it’s really accurate? It may be, it may not be—ultimately, it’s a male mindset from a woman’s point of view.

Women are always complaining about how they want their men to be more emotional, more expressive and sensitive. I don’t want that. I’m already that. I sure as hell don’t need two of me blubbering over a romantic comedy. I need a man to be strong mentally, esp. in stressful or dangerous situations, and strong physically, as in they’re able to kick the ass of another man if needed.

I happen to be one of the least warm and fuzzy women on the planet. I don’t like talking about my feelings, and I sure as hell don’t want to discuss my feelings with a man. That’s what I have girlfriends for when I’m so inclined. I don’t need to know how you feel about me or where our relationship (if we have one) is going, because as far as I’m concerned actions speak louder than words. I’ve had boyfriends tell me they loved me while at the same time were screwing other women, so words don’t mean much to me.

Weakness in men makes me emotionally uncomfortable and frustrated. I know that comes across as harsh, but if you have a toothache and you’re writhing about in bed, asking for last rites to be delivered, well, in my eyes, your penis has just gotten smaller by about 3 inches. I’m pretty sure that unapologetic attitude comes from having gone through 16 hours of unanesthetized back labor, getting a cavity filled without Novocaine, and growing up with a mean, nasty father.

How does this all translate to my son? From the time he was little I was the kind of mom who, when he fell down and hurt himself, would coddle him for a few seconds, then send him on his way. (Suck it up, you’re a boy.) I don’t have a hellava lot of sympathy for him when he’s whiny with a head cold, but I’ll happily administer the Motrin and vitamin C. I don’t force him to talk when he doesn’t want to, or demand he give me a proper kiss (he gives me the top of his head to kiss). And from what I’ve seen, most people tend to act the same way with their boys, esp. dads. After all, we gotta teach our boys to be tough, right?

My son is extremely attached to me, definitely a mama’s boy, not real aggressive, slight in body, shy, anxious. These are not traits that bode well for a man, imo. Men should be confident, self-assured, outgoing, bold, shouldn’t they? In the words of my father, my son is “a weenie,” made worse by the fact that I’m a single mom.

I am embarrassed to admit I agreed with my father for a time, if only because I couldn’t get the kid out of my bed until he turned 10. He wasn’t tackling the crap out of others in football, hanging out with a pack of boys on the corner, setting off fireworks, or able to watch scary movies without becoming frightened. How in the world would he ever be able to assimilate into a society where the majority of boys are like this?

I’m reading a book called The Strong Sensitive Boy by Ted Zeff, and I realize now that my son isn’t a weenie, he’s sensitive, and trying to force him to be something he’s not will result in more harm than good. Example: I took my son to see a concert when he was 8. The Black Eyed Peas (who he loved at the time) opened for U2. He wanted to leave after the second U2 song because they were “too loud.” I was so disappointed in him. (It was U2, for God’s sake!) What I didn’t understand at the time was that he’s extremely sensitive to loud noises and I’ll never be able to change that.

It’s a shame that boys growing up in North America have a harder time of it when they’re sensitive, creative introverts—that is, until they grow up to become a famous musician or actor and the world worships them. Telling sensitive boys not to cry or forcing them to do activities they don’t feel comfortable doing will undoubtedly saddle them with huge intensive therapy bills later on in life.

Our western society thinks Bruce Willis in the Die Hard films or James Bond when they think of “real men,” or (shudder) Arnold Schwarzenegger. I don’t know about you, but I think I need to reevaluate my definition of masculinity. After all, I had to reevaluate my definition of a “real dog.” I wanted a Lab—strong, steady, reliable, but the weight limit in our complex dictated we set our sights more on little runt dogs. Well, that and my son insisting on a Chihuahua after seeing the movie, Beverly Hill Chihuahua. While the Chihuahua we ended up getting is certainly a miserable diva to the tenth degree, I’ve learned to be thankful for what we have, even if I have to grit my teeth the entire time

What’s your definition of masculinity? Do you think perceptions of men are changing?

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28 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cie
    May 07, 2013 @ 06:29:21

    My definition of a man is that he is “real.” And strong and courageous enough to be kind.

    Reply

  2. Menopausal Mother
    May 07, 2013 @ 20:41:58

    I think your son sounds like a wonderful boy who will grow up to be an amazing, compassionate man. The world would probably be a better place if there were more men raised in households like yours where it’s OK to be sensitive and caring. You’re doing a good job, Mama!

    Reply

    • Tiffany N. York
      May 08, 2013 @ 15:59:43

      The jury’s still out on that one, but thanks for the vote of confidence. I’ve been worrying about how to make my son tougher, but I realize now that might not be the best thing to do…although I still stand by my conviction that a bully needs his ass kicked!

      Reply

  3. Amy (KidFreeLiving)
    May 08, 2013 @ 09:41:21

    My mike is a little of both – sometimes he’s a real man and it’s great, sometimes he’s a real man and I want to drain the testosterone out of him. He can also be more sensitive than a “Guy Guy” I’ll take that over neanderthal any day!

    Reply

  4. Damien
    May 10, 2013 @ 13:03:46

    As I see it, being a ‘real’ man – or a real woman for that matter – is all about confidence. In particular, it’s about having the confidence to be who you are and not try to be something you’re not in order to fit in with or impress other people. I have always clashed with others because of my personality – I’m loud and witty, always wisecracking – and my lifestyle – I date younger women, drink too much and don’t want kids – but a very long time ago I decided that I was going to be who I was and if someone didn’t like it, then they could go fuck themselves.

    And you know what – this outlook works.

    Reply

    • Tiffany N. York
      May 10, 2013 @ 14:18:24

      Confidence is the key–really for anything. But how many kids have that as they’re growing up, esp. through the teenage years? If I remember correctly, it was the loud, boisterous boys who always fared better than the quiet, shy ones. They’re the ones who get bullied, shunned by girls, and fade into the woodwork. How does one NOT grow up with a lack of confidence?

      What were you like as a teen, or pre-teen? If you grew up with a father, did he teach you how to be a man? Do any of those teachings not serve you now? And while we’re at it, just how young are the women you date?

      Reply

  5. Damien
    May 12, 2013 @ 02:27:06

    Well, I don’t think the loud, boisterous ones are necessarily more confident, they’re just louder, more boisterous and dealing with their shit in a different way than the quiet ones. Just be yourself and trust your son to grow into himself, amid all the things life brings: stresses, worries, fun and quirks.

    My dad is like most other dads – a great role model in some ways and not a good role model in other ways. He’s human, after all. But if you’re concerned about your son having a positive male role model, maybe consider involving him in a group activity that 1. is in line with his interests and 2. might allow exposure to positive male role models – i.e. boy scouts, little league, hiking club, etc…

    Well, it’s not that I’m ‘into’ young girls, but I live in the Czech Republic, where it’s very very common for younger women to be with older men. Nothing ridiculous, though. My last 5 gfs have been 29, 24, 22 (hehe), 27 and 31. I am 38.

    How old are you, Ms. Accidental Cougar!? (just curious…)

    Reply

  6. Damien
    May 12, 2013 @ 10:53:25

    Aha! So, I have had this nagging feeling all day that I made a faux pas, and now I know what it was. I didn’t mean to ask you how old you were, I meant to ask how old the guys you usually date are (hence the cougar ref…). Haha. Sorry about that!

    Reply

    • Tiffany N. York
      May 12, 2013 @ 11:25:38

      Oh please–the saying “Never ask a woman her age” does not apply to me. I’m 45. 16 emotionally. I never, ever dated younger men…until my ex. He was almost 4 years younger, and to me that was monumental at the time. As I inched closer to 40 in years, however, the age of my men went lower, along with my morals. The problem I have here in Suburbia is every man around my age is married. And although they don’t have a problem with that, I do! So I only have 20-somethings asking me out. (Well, they don’t ask me “out.” They ask me “in,” if you know what I mean.)

      Reply

  7. Damien
    May 12, 2013 @ 12:17:22

    Well, more power to you if you do, indeed, go ‘in’ for it. ha. It’s the same for me. Most of the women I know – sometimes former students or their friends – are in their early 20s and like me, so we go out. It’s just a matter of my social base. And many Czech women are married by 30ish, so my selection is from the younger section.

    Oh yes, morals. What are they again?

    Reply

    • Tiffany N. York
      May 12, 2013 @ 12:58:02

      I do have some still (being a mother forces me to set a good example), but to quote the words used to describe Catwoman, I’m “morally ambiguous.” Doesn’t that sound so much better than “immoral?”

      Reply

  8. Damien
    May 12, 2013 @ 13:23:29

    Yes it does. For all my joking, I am a gentleman. Sometimes maybe too much – ha! But I am moral probably only because I can’t sleep if I feel guilty about something and I really like sleeping. So I’m good.

    Reply

    • Tiffany N. York
      May 12, 2013 @ 17:24:34

      Well, you Sir, are a better man than me. If I could, I’d sleep 15 hrs a night, wake up, eat and read, and then take a nap. Get up, maybe read, then eat just to mix it up a bit, then call it a day.

      Reply

  9. Cie
    May 12, 2013 @ 13:58:57

    Is there a room somewhere between Czechoslovakia and CA?

    Reply

  10. Damien
    May 12, 2013 @ 14:21:22

    Sure! I’ll meet you there in 1988?

    Reply

  11. Damien
    May 13, 2013 @ 00:16:45

    Ha – that’s great! Your mom and my mom should get together and go bowling. I haven’t been not embarrassed in a restaurant in two decades. “So (insert waitress’ name), are you married? No, Wow…Do you like professors? My son is a professor. And, he has a book published…and lives in Euuuuurope.

    At this point I am usually ordering two of the strongest drinks on the menu, with a whiskey chaser. And, depending on where we are, reminding my mom that the waitress also lives in Europe. And probably can barely understand her.

    Reply

  12. Cie
    May 13, 2013 @ 05:21:47

    Xsqueezzze me! I am not trying to marry (you) her off. I just happened to notice that there was an amazing amount of energy travelling back and forth in those comments (ON FB – with everyone included!) Oh, and if you knew me, you’d know I’m not the bowling kind of mom. I am the kind that says, “My daughter, the writer just published a book” but am also the kind that gets down and dirty to help her edit it. Okay, I’m out of here. Enjoy.

    Reply

    • Tiffany N. York
      May 13, 2013 @ 08:20:21

      My mom should know that any man she thinks would be great for me results in me going for the extreme opposite. Damien, your mom probably wants grandchildren,for one and the peace of mind to know you will have someone there for you in old age. Me? I’ve told my son starting from the age of 6 to enjoy everything I’m doing for him now because when I’m old he’ll be feeding me and wiping my ass.

      And Mom, we’re on WP, not FB 🙂

      Reply

  13. Damien
    May 13, 2013 @ 11:04:48

    Nah, my mom already has grandchildren, and I’m pretty sure she just wants someone that will eat half of my pizzas. So…this might sound weird, but any chance I could get in on that ass-wiping service? I’m planning on being morbidly obese in my old age.

    Reply

    • Tiffany N. York
      May 13, 2013 @ 14:21:55

      My son is a slut for money or candy. Offer him either and he’ll do it. I, on the other hand, will not. I’d make a really crappy old spouse. I already told my mom she’ll be going into a home because I refuse to do it. If you’re planning on becoming morbidly obese I don’t think you’ll make it to the “needing your ass wiped” stage. You’ll already be dead from a stroke.

      Reply

  14. Damien
    May 13, 2013 @ 14:57:21

    Amazingly, that’s the best news I’ve heard today!

    Reply

  15. Gretchen Feibusch
    May 31, 2013 @ 03:25:11

    Je suis ravi d’etre passé par ici. tres bonne discusión ….

    Reply

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