In defense of good men

There has been a lot of girl-power floating around the internet these days. In light of current events, I of course feel it is warranted and would add that I fully agree with the message of “women and girls rock. Don’t let anyone put you down.” But today I want to shine the light on some people who are not getting a lot of attention right now—good men.

I have always been a huge advocate for women and feel a deep passion about just how awesome we are. With all the trash in the world aimed at destroying women and distorting men’s views of us, I have always felt very defensive of our sex and have never shied away from opening my mouth when I felt women were being slighted.

The strong women in my life have in large part made me who I am. These women have taught me to fight for what is right and good, to reject the status quo and create something better, and to be true to the higher qualities within me, no matter the cost. I hope to honor them with the way I live.

I suppose a hefty dose of girl-power has always run through my veins. But the more I have matured, the more I have come to recognize that there is another essential character on the stage of maintaining civility and decency in this chaotic world. It is the good man.

Media and cultural voices would have us believe that the good man is dead. Or that he was really just wishful thinking in the first place and never actually existed. The “typical man” portrayed in today’s culture is too often sketched as a self-absorbed, simple-minded creature who is incapable of seeing the whole picture. And he doesn’t care because all he really wants to do is watch sports and eat Cheetos. Oh, and of course, today’s man is a complete slave to his sexual appetites and has no need to cultivate self-control or discipline. And give him a break–he can’t help it, he is just too-simple minded to think of anything else—why would you expect more from such a creature?

I hope I am not alone in SHOUTING that these archetypes offend me. Deeply. They outrage me in fact. These false and shallow portrayals of men are just as offensive to me as are the terrible portrayals of women we see in today’s world. If we are going to preserve some degree of sanity in our society, we must revive both the good, strong, and respected woman as well as the good, strong and respected man.

Now, I know that there are men you know who seem to fit these stereotypes in many ways. Some of these may be good men with bad habits, and I have seen determined people make huge changes to improve themselves and the lives of those they love. Everyone is capable of change. I know, however, that there are countless men who have inflicted terrible emotional and physical pain on others, so often women and children. There is no excuse for such ugliness or for the men who create it. They are a disgrace to their breed, which is capable of such dignity and strength. Seeing and hearing of such behavior grieves me. But the men I know well are not these men.

The good men I know they are not looking for a spotlight. They don’t seek to broadcast their virtue. Or mark every good deed. Or publicize every sacrifice. No. The good men I know are quiet about it. So quiet about it that sometimes we forget they are there. They aren’t shouting down the world for portraying them the way it does, or for completely ignoring their sacrifices for others, their genuine efforts in building good families and communities, and the ways they are investing in building relationships. No, these men aren’t shouting about it. They are too busy doing it..

The good men are I know are absolutely consumed by the deliberate lives they are leading. They  work towards the positive vision they have of themselves and of others. These men sacrifice selfish pursuits and often hobbies to make the lives of their loved ones better. They work hard at investing in the relationships that are important to them and are doing the absolute best they can. They are intelligent, deeply respectful of women and children and are fiercely loyal. These men make mistakes, as we all do, and try to be better. I have seen men do these things every day for my whole life. Their influences have shaped my identity and my life’s path in immeasurable ways.

I know that these good men I know are not abnormalities, they are not exceptions to the rule. They are members of a vast army of good and brave men everywhere who quietly do the daily work of building goodness in this world.

Many of you have known men who were abusive, self-absorbed or clueless. Such men destroy hearts and homes and leave havoc in their wake. Such behavior is deplorable and inexcusable. But you have to know that these men are not every man. Today’s good men can no longer be ignored. It’s time for us to shine a light on them. To thank them, to show our appreciation for them and to encourage them to keep doing what they are doing so well.

Ladies, we cannot save this world on our own. The preservation of human decency and dignity will require good women and good men to reject the world’s toxic messages about who we are and to show children, by the way we live every day, who they can become and what this world can be for them. We must be deliberate in the messages we send to the rising generation and make sure they know what is true and also what is false and demeaning. Men and women must work together, respect each other and our efforts, and never give up.

I have great hope for humanity because of good men and good women who quietly build goodness all over the world. Let’s believe in ourselves, and let’s believe in each other.

How has your life been positively impacted by good men? Please comment below if you would like to share 🙂

Photo credit: Ana Gabriel, Unsplash.com

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Changing perspectives: A new metric for success

*This blog is designed to uplift others through sharing insights I have had on my journey as a mom. I do not suggest that all women should stay home and be moms, but rather that all women and men should search their inner selves to find their life’s greatest calling, and then give themselves entirely to it.

 

At the time I got pregnant with my son, I was into a lot of things. I was loving young married life and working full-time as a professional conference and event planner. In my position, I supervised dynamic teams, and partnered with community organizations to plan and carry out events for groups upwards of 7,000 people. I loved my job. It was exhausting but exhilarating. My professional trajectory was beginning to take shape—I would continue in my job, attend graduate school (I had been accepted to a couple of programs) and work towards my dream of someday starting several non-profits that would affect positive change in the world.

When I found out I was pregnant with Henry, I had some big choices to make. Was I going to continue on this trajectory that I had felt so excited about and focus on accomplishing my professional dreams? Or was I going to put that world on hold and stay home to be Henry’s primary nurturer, teacher and caregiver.

I knew inside what I felt. I had always known I wanted to stay at home to raise my kids. But part of me, a big part of me, also wanted those other things. With the support of my sweet husband (who would’ve supported me in either decision) I decided to put my other dreams on hold and focus on the dream of being a mom. I notified both my employer and the graduate program of my plans. Both my employer and the university were very supportive and kind towards me in regards to my decision.

And so began my journey into motherhood. I left everything I had known and threw myself headlong into a completely new world. As my delivery neared, I readied the nursery, packed my diaper bag, cooked meals to freeze, and did everything I could possibly think of to be prepared. But as all parents know, there is really no way to be entirely prepared for parenthood. It is a learning journey. It is a growing journey.

Both my husband and I were absolutely enchanted with our new little son. I was so in love with this tiny little peanut, I had no desire to do anything but snuggle him and look at him. That lasted for a long time.

But then, after several months, something inside me started to grow restless. I began to yearn for some of the things I had left for this child. It was not that I missed my job specifically, no. I missed the validation I got from it. The validation I had had my whole life through school, or sports, or music. You see, we grow accustomed to evaluating ourselves based on very exterior factors. When we perform well it is easy to measure both effort and success. We also often receive praise for our efforts or performance and can tell ourselves “I did a good job. I am having success with this.”

Motherhood is not that way. No one tells you at the end of the day, “Wow! I noticed you changed eight diapers today and prevented your baby from getting a diaper rash. Good job!” or “You did it! You cleaned the kitchen!” You know why? The visible accomplishments of child rearing and housekeeping appear simple and mundane. However, the outside indicators of the work of motherhood are not accurate reflections of the real work that is going on. The real work of mothering is not easy to discern when looking for immediate results. For example, it is impossible for anyone to know how you are shaping the development of your child’s brain by reading and talking to him or listening to music and dancing in the kitchen together. There is no way for anyone to know the emotional wellness you are helping build in your child by treating him with genuine love, compassion, and patience or how you are building in him a positive self-image with your words and actions all day long. No one can know the diseases and health conditions that may be avoided throughout your child’s life because you taught him how to be healthy.

You see, parents are agents of becoming. A parent’s success has absolutely nothing to do with accomplishment. It has nothing to do with outside praise or recognition. It has everything to do with your heart and your effort. And you are the only one who knows how well you are doing in those two areas.

I realized during that period of restlessness that I needed to adopt a new metric for evaluating success. I knew there was no rubric for me to measure myself up to, no boxes I could check to know if I was doing “OK.” This new method would require regular and honest evaluation of my heart (my motives, feelings and attachments) and my effort. I have learned that this type of internal self-evaluation is much more difficult than measuring success based on external expectations. It is more honest, more self-revealing and in my experience more powerful at effecting real change when change is necessary.

Since I took this intuitive approach to self-evaluation, I have found that I am better able to recognize when I am doing my job well. I am able to feel great satisfaction when I am giving my all to my family, regardless of whether my kitchen is spotless or the laundry is done. Rather than judging my day (and myself) by how much I “got done,” I now examine how well I loved, listened to and interacted with my kids.

Perhaps the greatest contribution we can make to this world comes in the form of the next generation, those booger-faced kids who right now are pestering you for more peanut butter and jelly. If you and I can facilitate the “becoming” of intelligent, honest, compassionate and hard-working people, then we have truly changed the world for the better.