January 19, 2014

"He'll be a good man someday"....

Define a "good man".

Is it one who provides?  There are many different ideas on provision, some believe it must be as close to 6 figures a year as possible, others are fine with minimum wage-just enough to keep the lights on, and still others are satisfied with somewhere in the middle.  Perhaps, he's not great at holding down the "perfect job" but he keeps his partner (in this blog, woman) steady, grounded, and focused.  Maybe he helps hold her accountable when she knows she is in fear of slipping into old easy habits.  Maybe it's the one who works an 80 hour week in a thankless job to keep food on the table for 3 littles and a grateful mama.  It could be the man who has worked 2 jobs for 20 years in an effort to maintain his home and those who are in his inner circle.  

Is it one who lays down at the beck and call of his partner?  That might read worse than it's meant.  Take the man who works himself from sunup to sundown and turns everything over to his lady because he knows deep down she is the stronger of the two in certain areas.  She, in return, takes what he gives her and turns into a home, a meal, a balanced checkbook, and healthy children.  There are others who are at their partners mercy.  Yes she takes what he gives her, but it may not always come out in meals, children, money, or a clean home.  It might be dinner out, social functions, and new cars.  

What about the man who works for 20 years in the same old job and does everything he needs to for his home?  Needs to.  Mind those words.  Any child(ren) in the house have their necessities but nothing beyond the material.  In the strictest sense you can say yes, he provided.  There was a shelter, food, a warm bed, an education, all the basic needs were met.  I guess the same could be said for a man who always has a job, any job, but it's just enough to get by.  Without the shared income of the partner, the house always hangs very carefully by it's nylon thread.  Yes, he is doing his part and for him, it's the best he can do.  Basics are met but there's no room for growth of the people within the home besides the man himself.  

Is providing always financial?  I'm sure anyone would agree that it is necessary to have any children or loved ones know they are loved and cared for.  I know a great many men who have shown this by the depth of their work ethic.  They work hard to prove that they care enough to provide the best they can, even if it means going without something themselves.  Others are very compassionate and show their love or care in a more verbal, upfront way.  Children need to know that they are valuable, that they are loved as much or more than either parents' spouse.  That goes for whole (un-divorced or widowed) families as well as split families that have multiples moms and dads.  (Please forgive the terminology, I do understand that "whole" does not necessarily mean a mother and father figure that have been married for 20+ years).  Spouses/partners need to know this as well, they need to know that their contribution to their mans life is seen and appreciated.  Two appreciative people will teach any child what it is to be grateful and selfless.  

Every woman has an idea in her head of what a "good man" is.  We get those ideas from our own family and others with whom we are raised.  We learn how to appreciate what that man does from our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, friends, etc.  I've said a couple of times that I am more traditional than most people would peg me.  Even though my own father didn't work the majority of my life, I know for a fact that when he was able, he put his all into what he did and he made sure the house was always provided for financially.  He wasn't the most affectionate man, simply because of the era in which he was raised (30's and 40's).  He did however, tell my sister and I that he loved us, and he would dote on our mom in his own little way .  Yes he had very old fashioned way about him, but for the two of them it worked.  Were we rich?  By no means.  Were we comfortable?  Yes for the most part we were.  Did we have the things we needed and a few things we wanted?  Yes we did.  My sister and I were taught to be grateful with whatever you have, period.  If all you can afford this week is a grocery store brand soda and a generic candy bar....enjoy it.  Be glad you could do that much.  We were also taught to strive for as much as we could accomplish.  Our goal would always be a Godiva bar and a high end coffee, but we understood that life happens and that is not always the norm.  The fact that it could be not be done this week is not a slight on our provider, unless he simply refused to get up and go do.  There are those in the world too, in that case, get up and get it yourself. 

There's a difference in the women who want to be "kept" and those who just want a solid home.  As much as I never wanted to be a kept woman, I do still have that old fashioned idea that men are the providers. I would have loved to raise my daughter without the full time help of daycare centers and grandparents.    I like working outside my home, but I also enjoy the knowledge that if I need to stay home for a reason, I can do that.  That was a luxury I didn't have in my previous life.  It was said once that Honey would be a good man someday, this was during his younger years when he was working full time twice over and helping raise an infant.  I don't understand why he wasn't considered good at the time...I can only assume because he wasn't making the kind of money some folks wanted.  I guess it's akin to how I felt about my own ex, I never believed him not to be a good man.  I did expect a bit more out of our living situation after I became pregnant, something I never quite got over.  Ex is a dreamer, he chases those valiantly, I am practical.  I need structure, stability, and the most reasonable solution to a problem.  

I've watched an interesting paradigm happen over the years.  I have people in my life that have very traditional gender role specific lives.  I also have those who share their household in a fair split, both financially and in child rearing.  I see young men and young women that have a very weak work ethic who are supported into their 20's by their family or others in their lives.  Others I know have worked since they were 16 years old and are chastised and beaten down by parents or father figures because they truly earned their due without parental support.  Those parents are angry and vehement that they should be rewarded for giving their child the bare minimum in love or support.  For me, that screams guilty conscience.

I guess it all boils down to this...a good man is one who tries very hard to do his very best by those he cares about the most.  The way I see it, good man = sacrifice.  That's me, I understand perception is going to change that equation.  I mentioned to Honey the other day that if our exes could see the way he and I interact if it would hit them..."Oh!  That's all he/she needed!"  He and I find it easy to interact and coexist, something we couldn't do with them.  Now each of us has someone who embodies and supports our definitions of what is a good man or woman.  His ex has her 6 figure a year man and the house in the "right" neighborhood, my ex has the financial backer to help him become the perpetual student he always wanted to be.  All the while...Honey still works two jobs, I now have a flexible schedule that gives me time with my child. I don't have a good man, I have a great man. 

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