Things I want my son to know. Lesson #12 – Have Courage, But don’t be afraid to cry.
“Big Boys Dont Cry”is something I used to hear a lot when I was growing up.
When I was 22, my granddad died peacefully in his sleep. He was someone I loved so much, someone who taught me the art of DIY, allowed me to drive his cars all the time, sit with him and play with him.
I remember getting the news at about 3am when I heard the house phone ring, and I immediately sensed he was gone, and it was confirmed by my mum’s crying. I jumped up in bed and burst into tears. My dad walked past, knocked on the door and saw me crying and said “Let it out now, but be strong when you get to the house” but there was no time. Granddad lived 3 doors from us, so I quickly got changed and had to dry my eyes and “be strong” for my family.
“Man-Up”, “Grow a pair” are phrases heard so frequently in todays conversational dialogue, and I’ve had the same phrases directed at me on occasion, each time making me feel sick to my core. There are so many societal demands placed on modern man from all angles, from your partner, family, work, friends, off-spring etc etc, and each role, demands you to be a different version of yourself. Your partner will want someone who is strong but gentle, take charge but not too controlling, hardened but communicative, burly but emotionally aware. Your work will want someone who is confident, in control, dependable, trustworthy, and with your colleagues in the pub, someone fun, a jack-the-lad, cocky. Your children will want someone who is there to be the nurturer, reader, repairman, builder, dancer, comedian/clown, and at the same time someone strong and who never tires and so on..
We are told to be so skewed towards the angle of being strong, so much that we often neglect the fact that as men, we also have a heart that needs to be cared for, emotions that need addressing and balancing. It isn’t easy to deal with the expectations without dealing with the consequences.
If you’re sensitive, you’re classed as a metrosexual…or even gay…
I was acutely aware of all of these expectations from a very early age, however never really understood how to balance these in my life. It came to a crunch point when I went through a very private fight which I had to keep quiet about, a fight that took all my energy to overcome and win.
Yesterday I was told to “Let him play with transformers, turn him into a real boy, a tough kid” as I allowed my son to play with his minion bag… much to my frustration, I had to laugh it off, secretly wanting to throw a pie at this guy. My son loves LEGO at the moment, and loves cooking. He loves being cuddled and play-fighting. He loves the park, animals, and occasionally will play with his mums make-up, using it as paint, her brushes as paint brushes.
All of these things make him special.
Son, The most important person in your life is YOU. The demands of this world seem like they will destroy your mental stability. Take time for yourself. Your mind and emotional health are as important, if not more important than your physical health. You will be called upon to show strength when the proverbials hit the fan, but also if you need to shed your own tears, do so. Do not carry the burden of your own heartache. Boys and men all cry. I’ve not met one that hasn’t. At some point in our life, we reach a point where we can no longer handle the pressure and so we cry. The point is to try and maintain an healthy mind set and emotional balance so that you don’t reach the point where you get pushed over the edge, but manage the emotional trauma healthily.
I remember a quote shared by a spiritual teacher from India, who said – “The way to assess how strong you are (he was talking about Spiritual Strength) is to look at how often you are disturbed during the day.”. Find time to meditate, to regroup your mind and focus on the positive, the more you do this, the more your mind will veer to the positive in the world. If you want to handle the tribulations of this world, you will need to find your inner strength, your inner courage. But this comes from finding a teaching that channels your spirit to balance courage, and emotion. There is no weakness in saying “I need help” or “I need to talk to someone about something that is bothering me”. The moment you realise that YOU are important, will make it easier, to be of value and be of support to others.