Saturday, February 18, 2012

boys and girls become men and women

I have two lovely daughters. I grew up with one, and then two very accomplished and interesting, intelligent, beautiful sisters. I was born to my mother, who had two sisters and one brother- who was born to my grandmother, the perfect woman by all our accounts. She jumped picnic tables as a little girl, was graceful always, smart, educated, nurturing, the best cook with the best lap and the occupied the space in our universe where everyone wanted to be. Most of my cousins are (get this) girls. We are really good at making really great girls and women. Where are the men? I have a very involved, supportive father, who has several brothers. Two traditional, creative, very intelligent grandpas. And uncles, who had sons. We like men, and love ours.
There was a lot of pressure in the previous few generations on women to be "more like boys". And then, in my childhood a lot of us girls heard things like " you can be anything you want to be" " you don't need anyone to take care of you" and " you can do anything and everything". I think many of us girls were put off by this, as apparently the anything they were talking about was anything out in the world. And anything as long as it wasn't overly feminine.  When I was growing up, I wanted to be like my grandma and run errands and care for everyone. That was not the "anything" my parents and teachers were talking about.  So I struggled with this confusion as a young women. I learned to create a life full of acceptable accomplishments and profession while still being the mother, wife and woman I wanted to be. I knew from observing the generation before me- I really couldn't do everything, or I would get very sick.
Then, my friends started getting married and having babies. And I started teaching pregnancy yoga. I heard much of the similar complaints and confusion from the other young women that I loved. And I recognized that while we as girls were being told we could do anything, without help, and that we didn't need anyone- the boys were listening. And essentially our culture was telling them they were pretty useless now. They grew up, with the same training as the generation of men before them to be husbands to different kinds of women. And we women wanted all this help and support from our husbands and many of us were trained not to ask for help, and many man were not trained how to support their women. I felt bad for our husbands. We wanted them to nurture us, to be understanding but they were raised to be needed and we were trained to not need anyone. My husband would look at me and say " do you NEED me to come" and I would say " no, I don't NEED you to come" and then we would both be hurt and out of sorts. But I do need him. I am not self-suffient. I need him a million times a day- as much as he needs me.
I thought all these things. And I was always protective of my girls to make sure no one told them they HAD to do or NEED or not need anything. I trained them in beauty and strength. I am training them in balance and showing each one that which they need as individuals. And I thought it was hard when people picked on their feminine ways as if they had no masculine balance within them. I would often say " they are very balanced, they wear dresses while exploring the creek and playing in the mud".

Then two weeks ago, we found out we were having a boy. We are so thrilled. So excited. I can't wait to explore this little person and all their specialness. I also can't wait to learn more about boys, and to help raise a man for the next generation- like I am excited to raise these little women for their future roles.
I started feeling more protective of this child right away and didn't know why.  And then I started to notice it was because of all those thoughts above. And more.
As soon as people found out we were having a boy they started asking different questions and treating him differently they they treated our daughters. It seems in our culture we would like kind boys and men, that do not show any femininity what-so-ever. We would like gentle men, but still want them to be strong and even aggressive. We are uncomfortable with boys showing any interest in anything not traditionally a masculine activity ( apparently we do not want any feminine boys or girls!). Well guess what, society? That is not going to work. Someone needs to nurture, and its okay if its everyone. Even if we are all nice and kind doesn't mean that we are not strong. Even if we need help, even if we are not self-suffient- that doesn't mean we could not be if the situation arose requiring that strength from us. But why live our whole lives like that.  And certainly my 20 week fetus does not need to live that way. Or my two week old baby, or my 20 year old son.
It is my great wish that all my children learn to love and balance the masculine and feminine within them. I pray they learn how valuable both are within us, and our culture. I pray that when they are grown they find a partner who is in balance with them, offering masculine support for their feminine qualities and feminine support for their masculine qualities. I pray that their homes are full of beauty and strength. I pray that their society and their culture embrace the strength of the feminine and the nurturance that drives the masculine. I pray they learn they do not ever need to do everything unless they are the only ones left on earth. I pray they find a way of balance. And I pray my husband and I can offer them this balance.


  1. I came across your blog through Greenberries facebook. I love this post in particular because I've been trying to explain the dynamics of being a mother in today's generation. We were told our whole lives to dream big, go to school, become anything we want. I did not realize that later in life that the exact thing I wanted to be did not require going to school or dreaming big. I want to a mother. NO one ever prepared me for that feeling.

  2. Right? And balancing a household full of chores/feeding/caring, with the demands of everyday life ( and work) might have been helpful too. It seems that some of the practicality was lacking in this presentation of womanhood. Even if I was so successful as to afford to have someone else to do these things, I just want to. I do not want to make money to pay someone else to do what I want to do. I hope that I can give the children room to explore the choices available to them AND the room to investigate how to actually make those dreams work in the world they live in.
    Luckily- I was pouring over martha stewart living when I was 12 and supposed to be dreaming of a corporate life!

  3. I love this post! I have often had similar thoughts but couldn't quite articulate them. Lovely and very powerful!