Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fathers mother too

Yesterday, I saw part of the solution to our current imbalance of feminine and masculine - the first was a man carrying a baby on his hip, at the door of a garage where mechanics were fixing his car; the second was another man with a baby on his hip (two in the same day! must be a message there), reading books in a mall. They looked completely at ease and natural.

Feminists have written books about this, Nancy Chodorow I think, that when men learn how to take care of children, not only will it give the mothers a needed break, it will teach them about empathy, compassionate caring, communication - when you have to find out what a crying baby needs it brings out all your non-verbal communication skills, as well as the verbal ones when the 2 year olds try to tell you what they want - my son's first words were 'ba'ketball' and 'papa' . That last one floored me, cause I wanted him to say 'mama' first. But Dad had been walking him up and down the hallways during his first six months of colicky evenings. And changing his diapers and giving him baths, and getting pooped on.

I love watching my almost 16 year old son, 5'10 and a voice as deep as gravel, playing with his 6 year old cousin, teaching him how to dive off the diving board, or letting himself be splashed in the hot tub by the little imp. This was beyond the call of duty, and it lasted almost a week during their visit last summer; although I'm sure he found it irritating to be on call for his cousin, he never said no. He always went swimming with him. And ended up laughing and having fun, too.

What I am grasping at saying here, is that it's a human thing - not a monopoly owned by women - to be caring, loving, and caretaking. If more men took care of their elderly parents, their toddlers and children, and more men probably are, then we will uncover the deepest secret - fathers can 'mother' too. It's a human capacity we all possess - some of us just need more practice at it. Some of us, even women, need to mother ourselves, too. Get good at the softening up, the self-love that allows us to love others.

Hey, I'm just learning the power of this stuff. Mid-life is forcing me to soften before rigidity breaks me into pieces. My body is a great teacher, my kids are great teachers, life is a great teacher. Earth is a great school.

It's not a feminine thing, it's love.



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