• a.m. baker

3. How To Be a Man



Dear Joe,


Who is going to show Sol how to become a man? It cannot be me because that is confusing and it cannot be you because you are confused.


Ideally, a child is raised in full awareness of both dualities with two parents committed to daily demonstration of how to be in the world. A child would bear daily witness to the values of the caregivers and assimilate those traits. Ideally, these would the traits of two individuals deeply knowledgeable of themselves as individuals, in relationship, in work and intellect, and in community. Ideally, they would understand the interconnectedness of consciousness-that one does not have to be in oneness of mind to be conscious, but that consciousness in itself breathes life into being. They would, in the splendor of their respect for Otherness, show him the way to be an individual and to be part of.

The child—our child, any child—will flourish in the presence of caregivers who give opportunity for growth and experiences made meaningful by conversation and additional provocation.


Our son is challenged by the constraints of etiquette and culture, and yet it is very much our duty and calling to raise him in awareness of these constraints so that he may adapt to the social necessities of interaction. He may have desire for this or that gratification, and it is up to use to show him the way to be gratified or to delay gratification, always in gratitude. It is for us to calmly and lovingly show him that being in gratitude grants access to serenity in the now, even when the object of one’s desire is not or is no longer accessible.


It is our path to teach him both morals and ethics, critical thought and empathy. It is our path to nurture and foster his creativity and search for knowledge, and how to contain and make meaning of both. Our scope is vast, and we have limited time to bring up a child who is able to create, reason, give and receive and be thwarted in gratitude, empathy and acceptance.


This boy-child of ours has been drawn like a magnet to the feminine since he was a baby. Of course he would be drawn to his mother and sisters. He was also drawn to men, but particularly you. He was drawn to my daughters’ father, their godfather, our realtor. He yearns for the yin and yang because he is the yin and the yang, as most of us are.


As he came into age 2, his longing for male presence was equally as polarized as his longing to see and touch and smell the feminine. His physical response to both was equally charged but from different energies and with different manifestations in him of this duality.


In the presence of females, he was coy, alternately shy and given to noisy displays requiring our attention. His desire for comfort and quiet reinforcement belonged to the feminine.


But his desire for big play, aggression that could be fostered, contained, and directed, belonged to the sphere of men. His desire to roar and tumble and run went to men.

So it was that I began to seek the men who would shape and influence our son, because your desire to see me, hear me, learn from me had ended, and you frequently fathered out of opposition to me—not from your Wise Man place, but from a childish oppositional petulance due to your mommification of me.


It is deeply disconcerting to see a man you once thought capable of meeting you with his masculine energy become so entrenched in not giving it. It merely demonstrates a lack of maturity, grace, and self-awareness. It cannot even really be about lack of honor or valiance because the defiant demonstrations are from a very young place—they look like our son.




When I think of you this way and our evolution, I see the little boy walking away in a man’s suit hanging off him as he leaves Elizabeth Perkins in Big. Her devastation at having loved the perfect man seemed to be borne of a yearning she had in seeing the perfection in the perfect boy, not yet fettered by the weight of responsibilities and unreached goals and disappointed looks in the faces of others laid out by a culture seeking conquistadors.


How does a boy learn the skills of filling the suit in authenticity without lessening his cultural currency by being vulnerable? How do we raise a boy who is vulnerable when he witnesses the primacy of his parents’ relationship as strained, guarded, and without vulnerability?


When I think of you as a young boy, I can see your heart, your strengths, your future self, and I can love you. However, in that vision, I become part of my mommification and I realize that while we used to be lovers, you had only gone with the current in your man’s body. You do not want to be Big. Being a woman, even a woman who struggles on occasion with allowing my inner child to run the show—I do not want to be a child again. My work as a woman is too important to abandon it for a desire for greater simplicity.

And so we go on, you over there somewhere with no desire to understand my deepest longings and biggest fears, and me over here, raising a son without a partner, lover, friend, or masculine compass besides what my inner feminine tells me is right, true, and good.




Our son hangs there between us, hopefully protected in this suspension, hopefully cocooned more than split by our respective methods. We are apart and not together. We are past the moments where I could understand and forgive and you still loved me, but as Robert Smith said, “he tells no more lies.” And I struggle—struggle!—each day to find a balance between hating you and being forlorn that I was not wise. Somewhere in the middle that just says, “oh,” and moves the fuck on. I am not there yet.


Me




“Apart”

He waits for her to understand But she won't understand at all

She waits all night for him to call

But he won't call anymore

He waits to hear her say

Forgive

But she just drops her pearl-black eyes

And prays to hear him say

I love you

But he tells no more lies

He waits for her to sympathize

But she won't sympathize at all

She waits all night to feel his kiss

But always wakes alone

He waits to hear her say

Forget

But she just hangs her head in pain

And prays to hear him say

No more

I'll never leave again

How did we get this far apart?

We used to be so close together

How did we get this far apart?

I thought this love would last forever


#dearjoe #beaman #sons #sol #book #epistles #letters #motherhood #fatherhood #raisingboys #dignity #integrity #veritas

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