Friday, July 24

and so we struggle

just like all normal people, we bumble along, tentatively, honestly, with our hearts on our sleeve and our head in our hands. We are dancing our way through a patch; a patch of uncertainty, of newness, of unchartered waters. Yes we had a great holiday, a wonderful relaxing holiday, but reality bites as soon as we returned. It had been there before we departed; a sore, an itch, an unresolved nip. How does a 53 year old (retired since he was 38 year old) man reconcile his past freedoms as a well-off entrepreneur and property owner with time to himself and money to burn, with his current reality as a stay home dad, homemaker to five and 'ships cook and concubine' to a working academic.
Well, apparently he doesnt. Well he does and he doesnt, and he does and he doesnt. As a life long feminist with feminist/marxist parents, grandparents and great grand parents and parents before them, I use all the empathy i have to manouver us through the ultimately feminist/patriarchial issues i now see my male beloved struggling with.

Issues he never thought he would face ( how could he as a priviledged male of the upper middle classes?) but issues i knew he ultimately would face through the sheer nature of the job, but thought it best he reconcile them for himself when the time came. Our time has come. We had a very beautiful conversation this evening where he opened himself right up, confronted his weaknesess, his foibles, his limitaions, his maleness. He struggled, cried, mourned and asked for comfort. He confronted for himself all the feminist issues of drudgery, boredom, repetition amd emotional exhaustion that women have traditionally faced. I cannot tell you how pleasurable it was (after a day or so of pissed-offness), exquisitely beautiful in all the right ways, to use all my knowledge and experience as a mother and a woman to comfort the man i love in dealing with his feelings of inadequacy, distress and insecurity about being the primary care giver to our beautiful boy. I do understand. To reassure him that he was doing a fine job despite his perceptions about being ill equipped to do it. To have him appreciate and need my warmth, reflection, humility and empathy was priceless. Its a struggle sometimes, we went through days of uncertainty, but the other side is glorious.


elburro said...

I can totally appreciate how fulfilling it must have felt to be able to provide the warmth and empathy that was needed, having been through that same experience yourself. I think that if I had that experience, I would have found it healing, in a way, too. Giving him what I wish I could have gotten...kind of like I think I am finding healing in being the parent to my children in a way that I wish I was parented.
Only good can come of this struggle. Too bad more of us can't find a way to truly live in each other's shoes. I think you stumbled upon the secret to partnership happiness!

Julie said...

What a keeper he is. 99% of the males I know would either keep those feelings inside (and the family would bear the brunt) or would struggle to express them. How blessed you and your family are (but clearly you know that already :-).

Kel said...

elburro- its always difficult 'hanging on' to yourself and your own truth when emotions get high but its certainly worth it. and, incrementally happier after the conversation!

julie- a keeper for sure. hes quirky and talented and open hearted. but, he did get to this point after id left it for a few days after noticing behavious change and then couldnt stand waiting any longer and had to push it! lol

Jen said...

Hey Kel, this is one of your best posts.
I have been thinking about this on and off over the weekend, and wondering why it has snagged in my mind so. I have been pondering the idea that a man should experience this world of women, and come to the same point that women do: the 'drudgery, boredom, repetition amd emotional exhaustion' that women experience as mothers. He is a rare man to take on this role of primary carer.

I know and you know how it feels to be the primary (if not sole) parent day after day, year after year. It takes a toll. It creates a space between child and parent that could be interpreted as a kind of 'debt'. I read somewhere this referred to as the 'maternal debt'. The idea that the mother sarifces herself, her life (in part) to the rearing of children.

So, I thank you for sharing this thought that there is a 'paternal; version of this debt. That it works across genders.

And to Simon: my heart goes out to you cos I know how hard it is sometimes to accept these changes to who you think you are, and your role in life. I have learnt that to understand apparent 'weaknesses' and accepting change, can only be a strength.

Annuska said...

Such a lot of beautiful comments. Great post Kel! Give him a hug from me, and another one for you, of course! (I love the label: woohoo! haha)

Kel said...

jen-thanks! gosh, should post late at night more often.! Yes, the drudgery that can be present in 'people growing' is genderless, just not many men experience it trulyY
ana-thanks, will do!