Cancer Ever After

Musings on Infertility, Adoption, Parenthood and Cancer

A Real Man

on 02/04/2015

One of the girls had a total meltdown because the bathroom door was closed the other day. “What’s the big deal? Typical toddler behavior.” And that’s true. This is nothing new, but what was new is that my husband was the one in the bathroom. The girls have decided to “pick their favorite parent” this month and they are not sharing. Hazel picked Tim.

The bathroom door being closed was the equivalent to declaring war on toddlers. Her rebel yell could be heard throughout the house. What made this incident so memorable is what I saw next. She quieted down immediately after Tim opened the door. And when I walked past the bathroom a few minutes later, I saw her sitting on his lap reading a book. I couldn’t stop myself. I whipped my phone out and snapped a picture (much to Tim’s dismay) and then solemnly promised not to share.

This is what a real man does. I’ve heard and been part of numerous discussions between women on what a Real Man is. I’ve heard and read countless complaints about how men don’t help out, or aren’t part of raising their children, and I honestly don’t get this at all.

Sometimes I think the limits placed on what men do and help out with is placed by the women in their lives. In our circle of friends, the guys are all very active and involved in their children’s lives. Maybe my circle is limited to the 10 or 20 men out there who are like this, but I don’t think I’m wrong. It’s time to redefine our collective definition of a Real Man in our society.

To me, a Real Man is a wonderful father. He shares in all the experiences of parenthood. He changes diapers (or in our case, washes every single one of the cloth diapers because I have the world’s most developed upchuck reflex). He cooks, he cleans and he gets up for middle-of-the-night feeds.

We live in an equal-opportunity household. When Tim talks to people about how we parent, he gets a lot of surprised reactions. He often hears, “But you’re the guy!” It infuriates me that men are somehow expected to do less or be less, and society chalks that up to being a Real Man.

While I agree that each couple has to find their own groove and figure out what works for them, I vehemently challenge the assumption that a Real Man is someone who does not participate in raising their own children or who would be emasculated by cooking or doing the dishes.

You can’t be a part-time parent during the formative years and then expect to be the confidante or buddy during the soccer-playing or Boy Scout-attending years. I challenge the idea that a Real Man doesn’t help with any of the care for infants or toddlers. I disagree that a Real Man doesn’t help with the cooking or cleaning.

Without my husband’s help, I would not have survived the first six months with twins, let alone breastfeeding them. He got up with me for every single feeding. EVERY. SINGLE. FEEDING. It was very difficult to juggle two babies when I was so sick from the delivery and subsequent complications. We both woke up around the clock for months. And he did it while working full-time. I didn’t go back to work until the girls were four and a half months old.

In my view, a Real Man does what’s needed to care and provide for his family. This may be repairs, this may be working two jobs, this may be changing diapers and cooking dinner. At the end of the day, a Real Man loves his children. Whether or not a guy is a Real Man is not measured by what he looks like or what his hobbies are. It’s about what he does with his heart and his time. A Real Man loves his family and, yes, a Real Man lets his daughter sit on his lap while he tries to go the bathroom.

Every morning, afternoon and evening, every minute of every day, I am so glad that I married a Real Man.

P.S. I caught the man who swore I would never hear him sing, singing to our girls last night in the nursery. I’m so in love.

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