Time flies, and how. From the days you crawled out of my lap to toddle, and from the time you started to sprout stubble on your chin, I did not realize when my little boy became a man. There were times I actually wondered if the deep baritone of the voice that you now talk in was a fake attempt at appearing older than your age. I guess at your age most boys would want to look a bit older to pass off as adults and get some added privileges like watching an A-grade movie. 😉
However, there are certain prerequisites that you need to meet to qualify as a man. Not the natural ones that come with age but the qualities in you that make you a man of character. As a woman I can guide you on a few qualities that could make you the kind of man people in general look up to. These qualities probably do not match up to the ones that the society has silently pre-decided for you.
You’ve had your share of pokes from me when it comes to chivalry. These are basic feel-good etiquettes that express your concern to people around you, especially women. Holding the door for someone, talking courteously on phone even with tele-callers, giving up your seat in a crowded bus for someone who’s standing, offering to carry their bags are some of the common things that show that you care enough to make people around you comfortable. If I’d have had a daughter, I’d have probably told her to do the same things. These qualities are not expected only in men.
However, at the risk of sounding biased to my gender, I’d like to state that it is seen that to most women these things come naturally due to their nurturing instincts, but to men these things do not come naturally. It is a lot to do with the way they have been brought up and their cultural values that make them act or not act in accordance. In some societies like ours, women do not command the kind of respect for men to actually think about doing these things for her to make her feel good about herself. After all the efforts a woman makes in different areas of life, be it bearing a child or taking care of their families, a little bit of extra concern can make tons of difference to their self-worth. Most men assume that their only responsibility is to earn bread, provide and protect their families. But what makes a real man is his ability to rise above the stereotypical persona of being a male chauvinist to be sensitive, especially to the emotional needs of a woman.
As mentioned in my letter to you on independence, skills like cooking, cleaning and changing diapers are the ones that liberate you from dependency. They do not make you any less of a man. Rather to me, these are qualities I see in a man who has chosen to break the rigid mould that society has set him. These are characteristics of an evolved man. This is the kind of man who can accept the choices that his women make without dictating her on what she should wear, where she should not go, what time she should be home, whom she should mingle with, and how she should carry herself. He’s the one who believes in letting people be what they are, give them the space and freedom that he craves for himself.
Standing up for your women and protecting them comes as a second nature to most men. So I’m sure you do not need my thoughts on them. Women these days are capable of taking care of themselves to a large extent, however it gives them a sense of security when their men stand by them. In the same manner as which the society dictates how a man should leave a few things for women, there are some dictates that are ridiculously targeted as men. For example, a real man never cries. I wonder how this theory came up. That is how we all came into this world, bawling and crying, so obviously it is a natural phenomenon that occurs that a man is asked to be deprived of. No wonder women take advantage of this notion and shed tears at the slightest opportunity to get their way around! So, no, a man who cries is real. He’s not trying to be something that the society wants him to confirm to. He’s man enough to be comfortable in his skin to express what he feels, whether it is joy or sorrow. Another theory that goes is that a man is always stronger than a woman. Physically, most of the times a man could be stronger due to the way he is built naturally. But mentally a woman is far more stronger than a man. I can count the mentally strong men I know on my fingers. They are a rare species.
So far the way your mind works I can see a lot of scope for a strong man to emerge from it. Keep working on it with an open mind, and trust me, some day you will make your women proud. This comes from the one woman who is already proud of you way too much!