Today, I want to share with you some of the small glimpses of good readers and friends have shared with me since I began Four Weeks of Fine Men.
These are mere glimpses–not stories, not even enough for a good snapshot view of the people involved. Some of these glimpses are of men following the example set by their communities, faith, or family. Some of them are of men who have led far-from-ideal lives and have to struggle to overcome negative patterns.
I think these moments matter, though. Whether they are glimpses of grace in a failing fight for change, or the happy fruit of the changes wrought by previous generations, these small glimpses have the potential to influence the tenor of a community.
I repeat them here as examples that should be normative. These are not extraordinary virtues–they are ordinary ones. The sooner they become the norm for all people, men and women, the better.
Guns and tampons
“My dad has some definite issues with toxic masculinity (fueled by right wing politics) but at heart, and prior to his involvement in politics, he was a wonderful example of tonic masculinity. Despite being a real “macho” guy (military, fireman, rancher), he adores flowers, cats, and babies. Growing up I had no idea that “macho” men didn’t also dote on their daughters, clean house, take us to appointments, or cook. He would take us girls hunting, and always kept a stock of feminine hygiene items in his truck because he knew that we would end up needing them out in the field. His work schedule meant he was a part-time stay-at-home dad and he was wonderful at it. He was just as, if not more involved, with our lives as my mom. He wasn’t perfect by any means…but he did a great job modeling many tonic masculine behaviors as a father.”
“My father was a really good man and a quiet and stoic example of masculinity. He died early and had poor health. But he treated my mother with respect in front of us ALL THE TIME. When I was 6 he brought me a bouquet of flowers for my birthday and it made me feel absolutely treasured. I completely went off the rails when he died and drifted from one bad relationship or affair for about 10 years. I would very much like my girls to marry someone like him—he was a man of great character. He was quiet and hardworking and praised my mother to us all the time. His own parents were unfit and he was raised by my great aunt. She lived with us—another sign of his character—his willingness to care for her after she had raised him under some rather difficult circumstances.”
Priorities under pressure
“I don’t need to rehash dh’s past. But one day I saw what he was really made of. We were at a K of C 4th of July celebration. Some of the knights were shooting off fireworks. They had built a platform to put them on that had a length of pipe on it to keep the fireworks pointed straight up as they were being lit. Well, the pipe fell over after a large bundle was lit and they were shooting straight at the group of children who were watching. I grabbed my toddler and disabled son because they were close by, and ran for shelter. Everyone began to run away from the flames. Except my husband. He was running toward the shooting fireworks, grabbing kids and tossing them out of harm’s way. All the other dads left their kids. My husband did what every man there should have done. We were still in the painful healing process at the time, but I was so darn proud of him that day.”
“You want to know what my man is doing right now? He’s helping his mother care for his dying father at home.
And you know what? His boss encouraged him to go. His boss lost his own father at 15, and he basically kicked my husband out of the office. “Go now, before it’s too late.” He’s letting my husband work from his laptop as much as he can. But said, “Take all the time you need.”
THAT is another example of how to be an awesome human.
While he’s there, he’s doing all the things his father hasn’t been able to get to because he’s been sick. Installing a new dishwasher, fridge, disposal and cleaning out the garage. All while helping with regular household duties, and caring for someone who is quickly losing the ability to get out of bed. I hold him up as a wonderful example of what a man should do and be.”
“One time Bracy went to the grocery store on a snowy day to get milk for the baby. It was only a mile away but he is terrified of driving in snow so I know what a big sacrifice it was for him.”