Monday, February 2, 2009
I find myself thinking about men constantly.
As a mother of two young boys, I look at the men around me at coffee shops, on the street, at a restaurant and wonder about the paths that took them from sweet little boys who babble about trains; to teenagers with likes and dislikes and t-shirts proclaiming as much; to young adults with facial hair, caffeine needs, romantic entanglements. There are so many avenues from point A to point B, it's sometimes amazing that we, as mothers, all started out at the same place, growing these little guys inside of us.
Like many others, I used to scoff at simplistic gender scripts, like "boys will be boys" and the like. But then I had boys. And, as much as I would prefer to add nuance versus bromide to the age-old gender wars, I could not with a straight face say anything but: There are intrinsic, inherent differences between a 1 year old boy and a 1 year old girl. Or, ahem, boys will be boys.
Which makes me often revisit much of what I thought I held in such strong belief about men. And women. And how we relate to each other. If I really believe that there are intrinsic differences at birth, do I think they go away over time? I have never read "Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus." Despite the multivarious studies that conclude that men communicate differently from women, I refuse to chalk up disagreements I have with my husband to anything other than our own personalities and circumstances. But I do wonder: Am I kidding myself?
This post on the Motherlode really got me thinking. Entitled "Are All Moms Mad At Dad," it chronicles the seemingly ubiquitous phenomenon of--well--mothers seething with anger about their husbands. When a joke becomes an anecdote becomes a phenomenon based on gender lines, you have to wonder whether there is just something fundamental in our make-ups as men and women that is causing this.
Now that I will soon be adding a girl to my testosterone-filled home, I wonder anew about gender stereotypes, boys and girls, men and women and how they interact. Will my husband treat the little girl differently than our two boys? Will he wrestle with her in the same way he rough-houses with our boys? Will his views of fatherhood change--and will mine?
I have more questions than answers.
Why do so many of us thank our husbands when they watch the kids?
Why do so many men refer to watching their kids as "babysitting"?
Why are there so many jokes about fathers who are overprotective of their daughters while handing out "atta boys" to their sons?
What happens between marriage and parenthood, and why are women so angry about it?
Why has male-bashing essentially become an Olympic sport?
Where do our husbands' paternal instincts come from?
Who do our husbands look up to as examples of "good dads"?
Why can boys watch sports for days?
When in doubt: Go to the source, no? Next week, boys are taking over the blog. Every day, two men in different phases of their dating, married, parenting lives will be giving you a glimpse into their male minds. Hope you'll gather your gender stereotypes, pop open a Budweiser, put your hand down your pants and enjoy...!